The Importance of Leadership in College

Building Skills in College

Smart college students soon realize that there is more to college than getting a degree and the social activities that surround it. Regardless of how many years you will be in college, eventually you will move into a career you want to be successful in. How successful do you want to be? Do you just want a “job” that may remain stagnant, or do you want to thrive, get promotions, gain more challenging and rewarding work, and build a resume that can help you land new opportunities?

While the required curriculum you learn in college is very important, you should evaluate if there are critical skills you didn’t take a class in. Skills such as verbal communication and public speaking. Strong written skills that are adaptable for different audiences and grammatically correct. Ability to work well in teams. And of course, leadership skills are essential and build upon these skills.

Leadership is what gives you the edge in life, brings more happiness and allows you to achieve more goals.  Leadership is more than knowledge, it’s personal development and something that takes many years to develop.

Why is Leadership Important?

Leadership is a key skill that gives you an edge over other people. People who may be competing for something you want, or people you may want to influence in order to achieve your goals. In most areas of life there are leaders and there are followers, which do you want to be? Being a follower is easier, however it can lead to frustration when someone else makes decisions you disagree with, not to mention they may have greater rewards in career and life.

Leadership is not something you simply choose to do, you have to be a leader. You need to make people want to follow you. Certainly, a job position such as a manager will force people to follow you, however if they do not want to follow you, you are not a true leader nor will you be as effective.

Traits of a Good Leader

An important trait is to lead the way to solutions and better ways. Have ideas, goals, and objectives and be able to communicate what they are, and why people should follow you towards them. A follower typically complains about problems but has no solutions. Or they just stay with the status quo, with no desire to make things better, let alone share their ideas with others.

Another key trait is building trust. You must be a person of integrity; you do what you say, without deception and truly care about helping those that follow you. A follower may put a lot on the line by following where you lead them. The moment they lose trust in you, you are risking failure as a leader. Word may get around that you’re not a person to trust. A bad reputation can stick with you throughout your entire career so think carefully about the type of person you want to be. This includes trying to ensure your followers are successful in their own goals; if not then why would they follow you?

Last but not least, walk the talk. Set an example in your own actions. How can you expect followers to work hard if you aren’t working hard? How can you expect followers to show up on time to a meeting if you don’t?

How to Become a Good Leader

Reading a few articles like this online is not enough. You want to read books, listen to audios, or watch videos from effective leadership trainers. Some well-known trainers include Brian Tracy and John Maxell however you can find many more great trainers by searching online, or browse your local bookstore.

Also build up the key skills needed in leadership. Verbal and written communication skills are essential and take work. A great way to build verbal speaking skills is through Toastmasters, there may be groups local to you. To build written skills, always have someone highly skilled at writing review and edit your work. Study their edits carefully and learn from it. If you don’t know someone with the skills to help you, there are online services like Brainy Bro that do proofreading and editing.

Another important method is modeling successful leaders you admire or who have achieved what you desire. Study their traits and mannerisms and copy the ones you like. It may feel fake for awhile or “not you”, however sometimes you have to choose between how you like to act and what is effective. Just don’t be fake about it, have fun with it and consider it personal growth.

And have the personality traits that people like. Famous trainer Jim Rohn said it well: “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”