Leadership is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization, but we all have our own definition of what that looks like.
This Spring, my friends and I were hit with devastating news: we were going home for Spring Break and not coming back. At first, of course, we were elated at what seemed like an extended Spring Break, but that was until Commencement was cancelled. I already wasn’t scheduled to graduate until December 2020, but I was looking forward to supporting my friends as they walked across the stage in May, which turned into liking pictures on Facebook and Instagram.
The worst was yet to come as stores began closing down and jobs became scarce. At the time, I was working as an Office Assistant and in a bookstore as a cashier, both on campus. With campus shutting down, I was out of both jobs with bills due and began to panic. After finding a new job, I developed a new skill set and came to the realization that what I saw as leadership wasn’t the only form it can take.
At my current job, I’ve worked with new, and returning, employees, unruly customers and flexible policies but it has only molded me into someone that I never expected to meet. I used to walk into rooms feeling uneasy, or uncomfortable, with my lack of presence. I always saw a leader as someone who can take the room by storm with their ideas, position and power but that isn’t entirely true. Yes, that is a form of leadership, but I learned that I am an empathic leader, and you probably are too.
I’m not sure if there is a textbook definition for what an Empathic Leader is, but I think it’s a common trait that people in positions of power forget to take with them. Often if you ask someone to define what a good leader is, they’ll use words like: harsh, unwavering, and controlling, when we rarely ever hear nice, forgiving, or patient. A leader should be able to know time and place, when it’s time to be steadfast in decisions but, also, when it’s time to be flexible and patient with a team.
As of now, I serve as President of an organization on campus. At the beginning of the summer, I was hesitant to step into the position because I know I’m not similar to the examples I’ve seen, but I’ve come to learn that we are all leaders in our own way.
I say all this to show that everyone has the potential to lead. In fact, we are all probably leading someone without even knowing. There is always someone looking up, so it’s best not to look down. We shouldn’t even look to our left and right. What you do as a leader, will likely be different than what others will do, and that’s okay. All that matters is you have a drive to make a difference and lead the team to your fullest potential.