Throughout our busy days, we run from meeting to meeting which often involves giving reports and listening to updates. All the while, we let our minds wander to the next series of meetings and events. At the end of the day, we reschedule the same series of meetings for the next time. It can be quite an exhaustive cycle. This segment of our lifestyle is a testament to our leadership duties.
With all we have on our agendas, have we ever given thought not only being present but also to having a positive impact? Not to be engrossed in the number of meetings but engaged in the level of our effectiveness? What can be said about the quality of our leadership? Let me address three simple steps that we all could employ to improve our leadership capabilities.
As leaders, we should always allow for moments of reflection. There is a growing need to push past the fog of ego that comes with the trappings of positions and titles. Moments of solitude, when we get them, should allow us to recognize direct or indirect challenges with our style of leadership. To become better leaders, we must work on our shortcomings that make us ineffective.
In addition, part of making progress is to evaluate those skills that we need to improve on. Maybe there is a need to better connect with people and to become more open and vulnerable. There could be the circumstance where we should have a better understanding of parliamentary procedures. Or, as is especially my case, the act of public speaking terrorizes you to the point of being paralyzed. Regardless of the condition, it is always best to seek a healthy cure. In my own case, I learned from public speakers whose style that I admired to instruct me on the art of oral pontification. Now, I love public speaking, and I’m an introvert at heart.
Lastly, we improve through education and instruction. There are a multitude of leadership training classes and courses that will reinforce the development of constructive habits and practices for not only the new burgeoning leader but for the established, seasoned leader as well. These programs exist online, but they are also available through local colleges and professional conferences. They vary in costs, but can you really put a price on your personal development? It is an investment worthy of time and resources.
One of my heroes is John H. Johnson, the founder of the Jet and Ebony magazines. Johnson started his business after using his mother’s furniture as collateral on a $500 loan to start his publication company. He made a statement that I used often in my speeches. Johnson said, “Make yourself indispensable.” His point was that you should be of such high quality and talent, character and reputation, leadership, and scholarship that society seeks you out for knowledge and wisdom. The active pursuit of leadership education may not make you perfect, but it will make you improve as a leader and a person.
Alex DeJarnett is Coordinator of Greek Life and Community Involvement at Florida A&M University and a member of the National Advisory Council.