Lead On – Develop Leadership Skills For Life
Today, buying shoes online is as commonplace as, well, buying shoes at a mall. But back in 1999, when 25-year-old Tony Hsieh and his partners conceived of the idea, it seemed almost foolish. After all, there wasn’t any proof to suggest that it would work: Would people really buy shoes without seeing them in person and without trying them on?
But Hsieh (pronounced Shay) had confidence in his idea, and he persisted, finding and convincing a backer to support him in his endeavor. Ten years later, his company-Zappos-is one of the most popular online shopping sites and an innovative leader in customer service with $1 billion worth of sales in 2008.
When most people hear the word “leader,” they associate it with a position or title: boss, CEO, team captain. But leadership doesn’t have to be “official,” and you don’t have to be an outgoing extrovert to lead. Hsieh didn’t set out to be a leader (he’s actually rather shy). He simply believed in himself and his idea, and the rest followed.
The fact is, you can develop leadership skills in every realm of your life and in any type of situation, from the mundane to the heroic, without being a formal or elected “leader.” These skills are important because they will help you achieve both personal and academic success in college and beyond.
So, how do you become a leader, big or small?
- Have confidence in yourself. Are you making your own decisions or are others always doing that for you? Are you striving to become your own unique individual or are you just copying others? Leaders come in all shapes and sizes but most of them have a pretty good sense of who they are and what their goals are.
- Take initiative. What are you doing this weekend? Try something new: Plan a day of volunteering for you and your friends. Or simply organize a trip to the movies. Take-charge social skills will come in handy when you’re trying to meet new people in college or network for a job.
- Get more involved. Most leaders are passionate about something. What do you care about? Extracurricular and community activities look good on your college application but they also allow you to gain more expertise in an area that’s important to you. The more confident you are the more appealing you are to others-and the more likely you are to get what you want out of life.
- Speak up. Again start small. If you disagree with a comment made in class offer an opposing viewpoint. Even if others don’t agree with you they’ll respect you for voicing your opinion. This skill will be especially important in the workplace when earning the respect of your coworkers and supervisor could send your career soaring.
- Show some respect. This may go without saying but treat others the way you’d want them to treat you. Be honest and fair and people will not only be more willing to hear what you have to say but they’ll also seek out your opinion and insight.
Even if you don’t have plans to run a company or govern the country developing leadership skills now will benefit you more than you know.