When I hear outstanding student leaders being described, there's one adjective that always catches my attention.
He's a STUD! (STUD-ETTE for you fabulous women out there)
This descriptive word has come to mean some very positive characteristics:
- The GO-TO student in a situation.
- The GET-IT-DONE student.
- The student who does everything with EXCELLENCE.
- The student who gets AMAZING results.
- The student who inspires POSITIVE thoughts and actions in others.
Do you know a student leader like this?
Are you a student leader like this?
It's easy to become just another student leader who goes through the motions and does what's required. But every once in awhile a student leader shows up who rises above the rest. A student leader with "stud-like" characteristics and capabilities.
I guess the question is: If you're going to be a student leader, don't you want to be a GREAT one?
I'm going to spend the next five posts sharing some ideas and practical ways that a student leader can distance himself or herself from the mundane, mediocre, ordinary, standard, run-of-the-mill students that miss out on the opportunities for greatness available to everyone.
Here's the first seven...
1. Find Your Zone and Zone In.
People recognized something special and unique in you when you were elected or selected for your student leadership position. You have a "gift." Now it's time to work with that gift and use it for the benefit of others. You have strengths and talents that are wonderfully yours. Don't worry about those things that you're not good at. Find someone else to do those things. You need to be intentionally adding value to your organization and others through those things that you do best. You'll know when you're in the zone. You feel energized. You enjoy your work. People think you're better than you actually are. Focus on your zone and it will make others turn their head and say, "WOW!"
2. Listen - "Can You Hear Me Now?".
The greatest communication skill of a leader is the ability to listen. You already know what you think, how you feel, what your own opinion is. Now it's time to tap into the perspective of someone else. When you listen well, people think you're more intelligent, more caring, more knowledgeable, and more friendly. One of the greatest needs that people have is the need to be listened too. It calms conflicts, it reduces tension, it helps people heal, and it makes someone feel like they're significant.
3. Do FEW things really well.
Which is better: to accomplish 8 things that people would consider a "3" on a scale of 1-10; or accomplish 3 things that people would consider an "8"? People are impressed by excellence. Mediocrity is so average that others don't even recognize it. A great illustration of this is juggling. I can juggle 3 balls pretty well. People watch me juggle 3 balls and they think, "Wow, he's a good juggler." But the moment you throw that fourth ball into the mix, there are balls all over the floor. Over and over, I drop the balls. When people see this they think, "Man...we need to find ourselves a new juggler." It's your call. You can say "yes" to a lot of things or just a few things. But the more you carry, the more you dilute your chances of being excellent.
4. You're dead if you miss deadlines.
When you, as a student leader, agree to a deadline, you are making a promise. When you miss your deadline, you aren't keeping your promise. Deadlines are typically necessary because other people are relying on the work you are doing. Deadlines are expectations that work will be done. If you want to impress people, get your work done before a stated deadline. The time to negotiate a deadline is when you're creating or accepting it. Push it out a bit further and then turn your stuff in early. People will think you're amazing, organized, disciplined, dependable, and a valued member of the team.
5. Make sure people are "in the know."
For most people, the ability to predict the future with 100% accuracy is only a wish that will never come true. Life has a way of happening. Circumstances mess up the best strategies and plans. When you find yourself with an unforeseen obstacle, let somebody know. If you're going to be a little late - tell someone. If you've got a problem, be honest about it. When your list of "If's" starts growing...make sure you're communicating. The worst thing that a student leader can do is to withdraw, thinking that she can handle everything on her own. When people are kept in the loop, then they're not surprised. People like surprises for birthdays and holidays. But they don't like surprises when all of a sudden you've blindsided them with your inability to meet expectations or commitments. The rule of thumb is: as soon as you know let someone else know.
6. Think about your thinking.
You might be saying, "I think all the time." But that's not the kind of thinking I mean here. I'm encouraging you to reflect, meditate, evaluate, and learn from your thinking. One of the roles of a student leader is to solve problems. But it's not easy to solve problems if you don't take the time to think about the problems. Thinking allows you to view things from a variety of perspectives. It helps you to consider multiple options. It actually makes you smarter. Don't think (ha!) for a minute that your first impression, your first response will always be your best response. Sometimes, those student leaders who fly by the seat of their pants find that they have to kick themselves in that same seat because they didn't take time to think. Build thinking time into your schedule. When people ask you a serious question, tell them that you need time to think about your response before giving it. They'll appreciate the effort you're putting in to give them a significant answer.
7. Prepare like you're going to perform.
Preparation is vital to a quality performance. When people see an athlete perform at a high level, they applaud, cheer, and hold the athlete in high regard. What they typically don't see is the time and energy the athlete spent in preparation for his performance. The excellence displayed on the field or on the court is the result of training and practicing with excellence in mind. A student leader can't expect to merely show up and perform at a high level. If a student leader wants to deliver an excellent speech, than he must prepare for that. If a student leader wants to oversee an excellent meeting, then she must prepare for that. If a student leader wants others to buy into the guiding values of the team or organization, then there must be time spent in preparation. A quote by Benjamin Franklin is appropriate here - "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
In the next post, I'll tackle the next 7 ways (#8-14) you can put the "stud" in student leader.
Flickr Credit: kensaviation