I believe that everyone should experience a leadership role, no matter how small, at least once in their life.
As students, as citizens, or as group members, we often like to complain about our instructors, government officials or team leaders. When they err, we jump on their mistakes as an excuse to decry their incompetence. When things don’t run as smoothly as intended, we point fingers at the figurehead by default.
To be fair, this sort of judgment is to be expected of any leadership position. After all, with great power comes great responsibility, and with great responsibility comes great scrutiny when power appears to be ill-used or when duties were not carried out to the fullest.
If you have never planned a large scale event, take some time to think what might go into the process; let’s say, for an on-campus networking event with an attendance of 200. Simple, you may say. Reserve a space and invite a bunch of people on a certain date and time. Oh, but don’t forget that there are only two large event spaces on campus and they’re usually booked up on Wednesdays, the most convenient day of the week for most people due to common hours. You’ll have to reserve the room well in advance. Be prepared to make some people unhappy because of conflicting plans they must choose between. Don’t forget that long events make people hungry and thirsty, especially if they’re going to be conversing at length, so go ahead and place that food order. Hosting the event in the middle of winter? Form contingency plans for cancellations due to unavailability of the event space during snow storms or people unable to travel in harsh weather conditions. It may just so happen that the only appropriate date for rescheduling your event happens to be an unofficial holiday – get ready for disgruntled attendees who resent having to come in. I haven’t even touched on logistics, advertisement, the schedule of events or interpersonal relations yet.
I’m not trying to dissuade you from criticizing those in positions of power – in fact, the ones whom you lead can often be your greatest source of insight. I simply want to highlight that if you’ve never overseen a group of people, you cannot truly understand the burden of leadership.
Don’t get me wrong – leadership is an amazingly fruitful experience. Remember that you are not superior to the ones you lead – you have simply been entrusted with a greater level of responsibility and privilege. Through the right balance of authority and affability, you’ll gain the satisfaction of watching your charges thrive as you too grow alongside them. And the best part of it? You can be doubly satisfied that you made a positive impact in someone’s life.
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