Lessons of leadership: It starts with “yes”

Graduation is quickly approaching and it’s hard to believe that the confident, kind-hearted outgoing leader I am today was once a nervous, awkward, and reserved freshman three years ago.

So what changed?

Early on in my career at the University of Central Missouri, I decided that I wanted to use my time in college to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. In the years following, I said “yes” to taking on numerous leadership roles I believe molded me into the person I am today. Before my time here comes to an end, I want to share some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about being a leader.

#1 Leadership fuels personal growth

Deliberately volunteering to be in a role of influence can often be scary; nine times out of ten you may not feel qualified. Yet, this is the most important lesson I’ve learned as a leader. Stepping into various leadership roles exposes you to new opportunities that push you to try new things.

During my junior year of college, I was nominated to attend an Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC) for Sigma Kappa with five other girls in my sorority. The conference taught me about what it means to belong and how to spread a sense of belonging to others around me. I met amazing members of Sigma Kappa from all over the United States which allowed me to learn about how other chapters deal with different situations. It allowed me to gain confidence in my position as Vice President of Standards and Values and made me excited to attend other leadership conferences whenever the opportunity arose.

#2 Leadership provides a foundation for building relationships

Having connections is what will set you apart as you strive for that next goal or job opportunity. My time as a member in Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) taught me that relationships are the key to success. It is important to not only make connections but to continually nurture them. It is important to stay in constant communication, ask questions, and build rapport – basically just have a conversation. Taking on the leadership role of president of PRSSA allowed me to connect with many alumni from the University of Central Missouri, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) members, and other chapter members of PRSSA. These connections have helped me figure out what I want to do as a career in the future.

#3 Leadership grants experience

A common question when it comes to interviewing for a job is what experience do you have? Leadership has allowed me to answer this question with confidence and ease. My experiences of traveling to leadership conferences, connecting with others, and coordinating events have given me topics to talk about when this question arises. These opportunities have allowed me to share what I have learned through the diverse groups of people I have worked with and how those experiences have better prepared me for the job.. I have grown a lot from when I first became a leader, and I am eager to continue to grow. Leadership experiences have made me hungry to learn more about how I can help others lead and how I continually create experiences for myself and others.

As I approach the start of the next chapter of becoming a professional I realize how far I have come by saying “yes” to new opportunities and through all the people I have met along the way. Leadership has given me the growth of confidence, relationships, and experience, and I will be forever grateful for my time at the University of Central Missouri. Three years goes by fast, but I would not change it for anything in the world. My memories have been made by saying “yes,” so I challenge you to do the same. You never know where the road will lead.


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