Next Level Leadership

by Ryan Brown Philadelphia University School of Architecture 2012 Campus Student Leader

Over time you have been told by others what leadership is. That's nice, but it only tells half of the story. Leadership is an attitude and a mindset. Leadership is the inward confidence in your own personal abilities and the abilities of those around you that emanate through you and onto others. It isn't something that can be defined with words in a dictionary, but is instead an inward intangible force that radiates from you in all that you do.

As people we are in a constant state of looking for answers and find comfort in knowing direction. It's identifying this direction which causes uneasiness or uncertainty. As the role of the leader, we must find this direction by analyzing situations, not only holistically but also on the smaller scale of the necessary steps that need to be taken. Action Plans, as an example, are one of the least used, but most effective tools that student leaders have at their disposal for understanding the specifics of how to get things done. They allow us to envision the end result, and work backward to identify which steps need to be taken and when in order to achieve the desired outcome. It allows us to have a unified focus and direction, a check list and a roadmap.

It is when confidence of success and its logistics are paired that the real magic begins to happen. It's easy, in fact it's almost contagious, to follow a strong leader who knows where they're going and why they're going there. We feed off of the confidence of strong leaders, and strong leaders feed off of the confidence that comes with having a strong plan.

People live up to the expectations put on them. If the group as a whole has a positive mindset and sees the objective as achievable, it will be. There are those who are self-driven and those who need a spark. You are that spark. Once the team buys into the ultimate goal and the way to get there, the team is able to easily and effectively work towards this now unified goal. It is at this point that we change roles from being the visionary to the facilitator and energizer. We empower and become the motivator.

Leadership is a multi-faceted and ever changing art based on the situations that arise and the dynamics of a team. It is because the issues of a team are organic and ever changing that true leaders need to be able to handle nearly all situations that may arise with confidence, intelligence and poise.

There's an old phrase, "You don't know what you don't know", meaning that we aren't aware of all of the different options that are available. We don't know something exists if we've never been exposed to it. It is for this reason that I challenge you to look deeper into your own personal understanding, and identify topics that you know only very little about and look into them. Success is achieved through lifelong learning. In today's world, stagnancy is suicide. We may make decisions based on past experiences but must never forget keep one eye open towards the future. It is when we feel comfortable in a process that we stop critiquing and improving; never stop questioning. It is when we feel a sense of safety that we stop taking risks; never stop exploiting your creativity. In today's global economic environment where only the fittest survive, accept nothing less than yourself a top the food chain.