“This is a stream of consciousness on some leadership tenants that even this endearingly awkward geek can abide by.”
*This post originally appeared on higheredgeek.com.
My journey to considering my self a leader has been a long one. I was always a pretty shy and humble kid (and still am to some extent) who never wanted to be the center of attention or take charge. It was only once I went to college, found my niche, and was able to have the pleasure and privilege of attending leadership workshops as well as take some awesome courses on leadership, did I build my confidence as someone who had something to offer as a leader. We all are unique and our leadership will take equally unique forms. That being said, there are some general attributes that I feel make for good leaders, which can be adapted and interpreted in their own ways, creating your own mix of how to get things done and work towards the common good for your institution.
I also use the word leader pretty loosely. While I supervise students, I also see myself as a leader in my campus community, working to forge ahead with projects that will benefit all students, prospective, current, commuter, and residential.
A lot of this connects to another post of mine about how to maximize the best of geek culture for building community. Check out that post too to learn more of my geeky revelations!
A big thing for me is being authentic, genuine, and real. I never want to seem like a phony to my students or some one I’m not to my friends and colleagues. I share my geeky passions regularly and have my office decorated with all my toys and posters. I also let my colleagues know what I think about what we’re doing, especially if I don’t agree with it. I have gotten great feedback on this, with people appreciating me speaking my mind in a thoughtful and respectful way. Being a leader means being someone people can connect with and speak to about whatever it is they need. You shouldn’t ever seem inaccessible or uncaring. I am human, I have thoughts, feelings, opinions, interests, and needs. I don’t try to hide this from anyone. I have found it has been very beneficial to let my geek flag fly and to be a genuine caring person to those I work with. People know what I’m into when they want to collaborate (more on that later) and my work comes to be connected to my passions. It all coalesces to make work a more fluid part of my life, where I don’t have to hide who I am when I clock in. I do the things I want to do and can do well, which ends up being better for everyone.
I enjoy working on a college campus since it encourages (most of the time) collaboration. We’re all working towards the same goal, and we all have limited resources. Work constantly flows in and out of different offices for different efforts like orientation, homecoming, and other large scale events. I also appreciate the opportunity for me to connect with particular offices I want experiences with and that I can just jump in and help out. When people know what I’m genuinely passionate about, I can take the lead on projects that connect with my interests. On this topic, being open to helping folks with anything they might need is another great aspect I’ve learned over the years. I have become a resource for folks to collaborate on starting podcasts, helping with blogging, and getting rolling with social media efforts. Being open to helping builds good rapport and capital in your organization. A lot of the time, your reputation proceeds you so it is good to be helpful to folks when you can manage it. At the very least, connect folks with each other if you can’t help them or don’t have time. Each person will be appreciative and you’ll have done your good deed for the day!
Something I’ve continually read in leadership books and articles is the importance of gratitude. It helps us be happier, it helps other feel good, and it is a generally positive thing for anyone to do, especially leaders. Appreciation of the work we do everyday is something that is tragically missing from a lot folks’ lives. As a humble leader, I’m very gracious for anything people to do to help me out. I feel like I don’t deserve it but in the end, it’s just positive thing to do to value the contributions people put in, no matter how big or small. It goes a long way to building a solid foundation for relationships to give honest, genuine thanks (especially in handwritten thank you notes). Rarely do we ever actually tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them and what they do. Start doing it today!
This is a stream of consciousness on some leadership tenants that even this endearingly awkward geek can abide by. They’ve transformed how I view leadership and my confidence in being able to put my unique spin on it. Hopefully it is helpful to some folks out there, even with how you might inspire your students to be leaders in their own ways.