I attended a workshop on leadership in medicine and medical education yesterday, so I got to thinking about what constitutes good leadership for undergraduate students still finding their way.
DISCLAIMER #1: There is no evidence base for my remarks besides my own personal experience. Obvs if you are a mature-age student this is all old hat to you. Go read my guides to EndNote instead. Or read this and chuckle.
DISCLAIMER #2: This is very disjointed, I will edit it later.
I think at the stage of early undergraduate study you can make the mistake of:
a) jumping at every opportunity available to you, or
b) just ignoring everything outside of your book study
c) forgetting that you have responsibilities outside of drinking at the Tav and clubbing all weekend
3/3 choices are poor ones- instead try to thread the needle of pursuing things you are interested in while still maintaining academic integrity and some semblance of a social life.
I think it’s important understand what issues motivate you the most, and try to marry that up with your academic studies. There is no point in randomly compiling a CV with experiences you did for no reason other than to, well, look good on paper.
What does this have to do with leadership? Well, I’m not sure coming out of high school that most uni students are strong in the following areas:
- assertiveness- this includes knowing when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’
- keeping to deadlines
- planning/ goal-setting
- good old-fashioned communication
FYI- it’s okay to have deficits in these areas! At some point you have to start addressing them though, if you want to be accountable for yourself, especially so if you want to lead others.
To work on these you need to have broaden your experience by taking on tasks/positions you haven’t encountered before, you need to continually evaluate and refine your approach to study, and learn how to be a good team player.
You can also lead by taking a stand against inertia. What I mean by this, is that being prepared put your hand up and lead a discussion in a silent classroom, or even being brave enough to not sweep a problem under the rug, are far more enriching than pretending that doing nothing/avoiding things is okay.
Even if you are a first year student, every day at least one time, you’ll have that choice.
Try to remember that leadership DOES NOT EQUAL being shouty and obstinate. Really it’s about being able to inspire the people you work with to get behind what ever you + your organisation’s mission and vision are. It’s about getting the best out of others. Not berating them or making them feel insignificant in your presence. If you can get people on-side, then meeting deadlines and targets become much less fraught.
So to conclude those are my incomplete thoughts about how you can put yourself on a path towards being the kind of leader people are willing to get behind, and a leader that gets results.