What makes a good leader? Sure, you’ve heard this question asked in all kinds of places. It’s been asked by your teachers, parents, and even inspirational TV ads that interrupt your favorite show. But there’s a difference between knowing about leadership and being a leader, and it won’t be until you step outside of your comfort zone that you will learn about true leadership.
When you start participating in leadership opportunities (for example, volunteering with a program or raising awareness of important causes) outside of the classroom, you will learn some valuable things about leadership. You will learn to project a vision that others will believe in and support. George Washington Carver once said, “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” Good leadership lies in the skill of helping people see and love the dream that you have, and you can use this skill to lead people of all backgrounds, poor or rich, young or old. Seeing (or envisioning) is believing.
You will also learn to work with others. Good leaders have good people skills. You will learn to work with others as a team, listen and respect other people’s opinions and ideas, and delegate tasks. Consider your favorite athletes. Most likely they do not push their team members around and bash them. Instead, they support their team members and know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. They know how the team works best together. You will learn this skill quickly as you step into a leadership role. For example, if you work with one of Global Leadership Adventure’s service programs, you will have to learn to work with your friends and team mates while in an unfamiliar setting, in order to help the international community. Good leadership equals good team work.
In addition to these skills, you will also learn more about yourself. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true. You will learn that you can do things you didn’t think you could do before. Melissa Faraci, one of my friends, has traveled all over the world. While she was volunteering in Mexico during her teen years, she had the opportunity to get to speak to a group of children and lead them in games. At the time, she thought she couldn’t do it and was afraid she would be awkward and incapable, but the adventure forced her out of her comfort zone, and she was able to go above and beyond what she originally thought she couldn’t do. Melissa testifies that this experience helped her grow as a leader and as a person. Leadership will do the same for you.
So do you want to lead? There are plenty of leadership opportunities for high school students. Consider volunteering locally, like at a nursing home or community center. Start an internship with an organization that you love. Or volunteer with a leadership program for high school students. Global Leadership Adventures has lots of programs to match your interests and talents! Their Service Learning Adventures give you opportunities to lead and help others, while having a blast at the same time. Through GLA, you will meet people from all different backgrounds, and you will gain experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Oh, and did I mention you get to travel? Bonus!
Leadership isn’t just telling people what to do, and it can’t simply be taught. It’s about creating a vision, working with your team, and pushing yourself to grow. True leadership is a valuable skill, one that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Now, are you ready to become a leader? Let’s go!
Contributed by Addie Davis