Leaders are creative innovators and pragmatic decision makers. They offer a bounty of new ideas, but also the ability to tackle challenges while sometimes working with limited resources. In addition, they have to support a cohesive business structure for workers at all professional levels.
Leadership is defined differently in various sectors. But in general, great leadership compromises many combined traits and skillsets to make an long-lasting impact that helps secure a vision or mission. Communication, action, and vision can inspire, motivate, and challenge those who work with leaders.
However, these skills don’t necessarily need to be perfected before you get a job or start a business. In fact, many leaders build upon these skills every day to become the best versions of themselves. However, it’s never to early to start practicing. Budding entrepreneurs can build professional skills while still in college with a number of activities.
Here are six ways you can build your leadership skills while still in college:
1. Organize and Lead Community Projects
Organize and lead a community project to help you focus on your leadership goals while supporting causes for which you’re passionate. Find a community project and organization where you can help organize and support their efforts. Or if you’re passionate about a charity or organization that doesn’t yet exist, try to start and chair the initiative. Many college students don’t have a lot of time to assume a leadership position during the length of their academic careers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help out in some way. You can help organize even a short-lived event or project in honor of a holiday or event. This way you can gain the experience to plan, organize, and actualize a major event without taking all of your time during the semester.
2. Run for Student Government
A student government position could help leverage your leadership abilities. Although many students set their sights on becoming the student body president, students can build their leadership capabilities in different student government roles. Consider running for a smaller position in our residence hall, a on-campus cultural organization, or become a representative of your fraternity or sorority! Even if in a position that requires less responsibility, you can see first-hand decision-making during meetings.
3. Join Engaging Clubs
Strong leadership can be developed through teamwork. While in college, take advantage of the opportunities you have to join clubs where you can meet people interested in the same hobbies. For example, you could join a entrepreneurship club. Plus, it allows you to focus your efforts in a specific niche while learning leadership skills and working with other leaders in the club. Offer your ideas for the direction and engagement of the club and make them a reality.
4. Find a Campus Job focusing on Student Leadership
If you want to learn how to become a leader from the sidelines, consider working in a campus office that supports student leadership efforts. Offices like Residence Life or the Department of Student Activities are great places to learn what you need to know about leadership initiatives, events, and skills. The full-time can also help you see what structured leadership goals look like in a professional, behind-the-scenes setting.
5. Take Leadership Courses
Your college most likely offers some sort of leadership course. It could either be a for-credit class in the business school or a class just where you can learn skills. Learning formal leadership skills with the support of a teacher and classmates can give you the inspiration to take on a leadership role outside of the classroom!
6. Connect with Professors
When you think “leadership skills” you might not immediately think of connecting with a professor or mentor. Working with a professor on research or a project can offer many opportunities. You can highlight your will to learn and your intellectual abilities. Showcasing your determination and desire for a project and following-through with it can help building the skills you need to become a leader. After graduation, you won’t only benefit from these newly acquired skill sets, but you may build lasting professional connections and a project that helps solidifies your experience or reputation in your field.
College is a great way to invest in your leadership skills as you experience new strategies and ways of thinking. If you make mistakes, you can learn from them easily, especially with guidance from others. It may take time to build your leadership skills, but pushing yourself to take on responsibilities helps many people get out of their comfort zones. Using these tips can allow your leadership capabilities to blossom.