A common assumption is that one’s idea of leadership grows and evolves as they do. To test this assumption, I spoke to a few students from different years about their views on leadership. Even though they all had similar ideas on what leadership was, they all seemed to be at different stages of their leadership journey.
Shivam Mittal (MIE Year 1) said he had been gaining valuable skills and more perspective on how he worked as a leader through his involvement on various teams such as the need to be more patient and decisive.
Iris Yu (MSE Year 3) reflected on how she thought a leader needed to be loud and commanding, but now understands this is not the most effective way of leadership. Instead leadership is about acknowledging and leveraging your teammates’ strengths.
On the other hand, Tobi Edun (ChemE, PEY) recounted how his leadership journey started from a place of self-awareness: learning how to utilize his strengths and values to work better within teams. He is now at a place where he wants to make an impact on his community: “Along the way, I have unraveled a desire within me to help others reflect and learn about themselves, their goals, and values.”
Sami Alkanafani (MIE, MASc) said that “leadership can and does come in many forms. You do not have to be a manager or a politician to be called a leader. He added that it’s important to tackle your own biases and deeply understand “your perceptions of self and interactions with your environment.” Sami is looking to explore leadership beyond clubs and organizations at SkuleTM by volunteering and engaging with his local community.
Robin Sacks, an Assistant Professor at ILead, defined leaders as, “I think the best leaders are masterful at leveraging everyone’s strengths and talents to achieve a vision.”
These perspectives show that there is no right or wrong way to see leadership, and that everyone can be a leader in their own capacities. Even when a person starts leading and influencing their communities, there is still space to learn. As Professor Sacks put it: “a lot of her leadership learnings have been by chance.”