“How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference” — this is the first statement you read when reviewing the cover of Mark Sanborn’s book, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader. My partner gifted me with this book after I received rejections from multiple institutions for positions I was applying. During this process, I constantly got anxious and reflected on my career in higher education, sometimes even doubting my contribution to the field.
After reading this book, I have been refueled and am more motivated than ever to go above and beyond in my workplace. This book truly made me see the bigger picture. I currently work in an amazing place with some pretty awesome people. I mentor and advise students who care about doing better on campus and in their communities. During this tough time in my career, I can say that it was one of my mentees who made me think, “Wow, my job matters to those younger than I am.”
“One of the greatest compliments you can be paid as a leader is to have someone say that you helped them be better than they thought they could be” (Sanborn, 2006). I can be a leader on and off campus without a title. Being in residential life, I have the opportunity to do it all. This experience is what has helped guide my vision and helped me create my goals. Regardless of your position, whether entry-level or seasoned, stay motivated and continue to be a leader!
1. Sanborn wrote in his book, “You don’t need a title to be a leader.” I am telling you, “You don’t need a title to do what you love. You are enough. You are important. You do amazing work!”
2. Do what you love and focus on the positivity. I can honestly say this took some time for me to find. It was that positivity from my mentee telling me how much he appreciated me for me to see the big picture. Our work in student affairs is valuable. Focus on what makes you happy in your workplace and you’ll realize that you are doing more than you think for our students.
3. Look for developmental opportunities. This will help you grow, succeed, and achieve your goals. This will help you keep focused on your long-term goals. By taking initiative even when things seem difficult, you will stand out from the rest.
4. Connect with students whenever possible! With a recent promotion in an independent living complex, it is sometimes hard to see students. I have to go out of my way to make sure I am building as many meaningful connections as possible so that I can impact as many lives as I can on my campus. That is why I choose student affairs and residential life. If you positively impact students, then you are a leader. Sanborn says, “People do things for their own reasons, not for yours. To be an effective leader, you need to know how to motivate others.”
5. Do something fun and take care of yourself. Get a hobby! Taking care of yourself helps you be great at work life balance. Do things for you, so you can better serve others.
6. And lastly, accept what you cannot control. This was and continues to be a hard lesson for me personally and professionally. I can only control what I do in my current role and the initiatives I take to be a better student affairs professional. I now know not to rush my success, but dive into the growing process and it will blossom into something great.
“Everyone makes a difference. The choice we all have is whether we want to make a positive difference or a negative one.”
– Mark Sanborn
Choose to be great and help others be great too.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Kathryne Auerback on Values Based Leadership and The Social Change Model