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Leaders should empower others every day

Leadership can often start in the classroom.

I’ve been involved with leadership starting at a young age—being involved with the Cub Scouts, then progressing to Boy Scouts, and finally achieving Eagle Scout status. This involvement has made me an experienced leader while in elementary and high school. In college I learned more about leadership. I would always ask myself, “What does it mean to be a leader?” Here I will explain what that means to me and what I have learned.

Being a leader is a multi-faceted task. There is more than one type of leader.

“People think that leadership is ‘one-size-fits-all.’ The best leaders understand the situation and their followers and can adjust as needed,” Dr. Kristie McHugh, Assistant Professor of Management at the Dicke College of Business Administration said. Dr. McHugh teaches Ethical Leadership.

There are many ways to be a leader. Since there is not one specific type, there is flexibility to how a leader can take on challenges, which allows parts of their own character to shine. In the book “The Student Leadership Challenge,” Authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner discuss the five key aspects for leadership:

1.      Model the way. Leading by example is one of the best ways to lead a group.

2.      Inspire a shared vision. Imagine what the future could be and enable possibilities to make it so.

3.      Challenge the process. Challenge is the first step for greatness. Search for opportunities and ways to improve.

4.      Enable others to act. Encourage collaboration by building up trust and starting relationships.

5.      Encourage the heart. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for the work people have done.

These five practices are key aspects to being a good leader. They are not specific in any way, which means that they are flexible enough to adapt to almost any situation.

The first, and probably obvious, place where leadership can happen is in the classroom. Group projects are a great opportunity for this. You can use this time to learn how to be a leader. It also gives great experience for all of the group members to observe leadership at work

Leadership can occur outside the classroom as well. It can be with extracurricular activities and on the job. Campus organizations give great opportunities for this to happen. You can lead the group in its whole, or you could lead a part of the project. On the job, you can use certain situations to help boost your leadership skills may it be leading a project or figuring out the best ways to help customers.

A fine example of outstanding leadership is Henry Solomon Lehr, the founder of Ohio Northern University. Lehr, a Civil War veteran, got off a train in Ada in March of 1866. In 1871, he created the school that would eventually become Ohio Northern University. Mr. Lehr not only taught leadership in the classroom but also lived it as a lifestyle. Henry Solomon Lehr continued being a leader despite having to overcome many challenges. He is a fine example of an excellent leader.

To me, a leader is someone who is always willing to do what is right and to listen to their followers. There are many opportunities in everyday life to be one.

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