“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric.
Some people naturally gravitate to leadership roles, while others grow into successful leaders by believing in themselves, overcoming their fears, and expanding their connections. I believe that I am carving my way to become a successful leader: I am climbing the leadership ladder one step at a time.
The first step on the leadership ladder is to believe in yourself and to believe that you can be an effective leader. Never tell yourself that you are bad at something before giving it a try. You might fail the first time, but if you are persistent enough, you will achieve your goal. Believing that you are a leader is an essential first step towards becoming one.
The second step on the leadership ladder is to conquer your fears and give yourself a chance to be what you want. You will not be the President of your favorite student organization if you do not run for the position in the first place. You will not be able to deliver a proper speech in front of a crowd if you do not try it. And the list goes on. Getting out of my comfort zone helped me overcome my fears, like overcoming my fear of public speaking, and encouraged me to try things I have never imagined myself doing. Was my first speech perfect? No, but I am sure that I learned from my mistakes, and I believe that I am a better public speaker as a result. With time, you will improve at doing things you were once afraid to do, and you just may grow to like them.
The third step towards leadership is developing and fostering your relationships and connections. Your connections will not only support and motivate you, but they will serve as a reference for you when needed. As a leader, you will have to make major decisions when faced with certain issues. Seeing these issues from only your perspective, without consulting others to gain a broader perspective, will limit your sight and may facilitate a weak decision-making process. Be participative: value the input of others, but at the end make the final decision and be responsible for its implications.
Although this is the step I am currently at, the ladder does not end here. I am sure that I still have many steps to climb to be a better and more effective leader. Always remember that it starts with the first step, and believe in yourself. Along your way up, never forget to lend a hand to those who have the potential and need a push.
Clint Saidy is a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering and President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA).
This blog is part of a series of blogs on leadership written by graduate students during Carolina Leadership Week 2018.
Questions? Contact us at GRADprofdev@sc.edu.