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Leadership: NOT one size fits all

Leadership. Growing up, we may hear rumblings of it here and there. But it becomes ingrained in our minds as we enter the “post-summer camp” era of our lives and begin to see the world differently. Suddenly, we are learning about these front-facing figures who make a major impact, such as CEOs, politicians, and social justice activists. These individuals are presented to our young minds as “leaders.”

As an adolescent with a mind like a sponge, I couldn’t help but assume that to be a leader, I had to fit one of those moulds. Off I went with that perception of this new, cool, and exciting person. A person who I told myself I wanted to become one day. For some time, my brain thought of these leadership stereotypes when I considered the concept.

Around this time, I was in high school. I was directing and choreographing my school’s musical production and was an active member of my student council. Both are causes that I had an enormous amount of passion towards. Through personal coaching and inspiration from my teacher at the time, I discovered I was already practicing leadership. At that moment, I realized what makes a leader isn’t necessarily doing something on a large scale. Instead, it is finding a cause that you are passionate about, listening to your peers, and building a community/team that makes an impact together.

Why is this important for me to share? Because I want to end this stigma that we have to have a certain leadership position or act a certain way to make an impact as a leader. Rather, one can become a leader by finding a cause they’re passionate about and tying it back to making an impact on people.

If you are reading this and don’t see yourself being a visionary and making an impact for the reasons I already outlined, please take a moment to reflect on who has made the most positive impact on your life to date. Often, those individuals are the leaders who inspire our endeavours the most.

We all have leaders in our life. Teachers, parents, coaches, community champions, and even friends. If you are interested in the science of leadership, I encourage you to sit down and reflect on who these leaders are for even five minutes. In doing this, I noticed that we are actually exposed to leadership from a very young age.

Upon reflection, I found a particular draw to my theatre/dance coaches and teachers. As I continue to build out my leadership skills, I find the best growth in myself in similar environments as those influential figures. I am currently a Dance Captain for my local theatre company and love being able to bring my authentic self to both my Theatre Space and the Smith Commerce Society in leadership capacities.

The commerce program offers many opportunities for traditional student leader positions (Sponsorship Director, Advisor, etc.). However, I encourage you all to not only seek these valuable positions but also seek leadership opportunities in areas outside of your university’s club societies. Our world depends on our authenticity to bridge gaps and make people find their purpose. I always like to say authenticity is what colors in the world. So, if you want to pursue leadership in a space that you see as “different,” DO IT! I did, and I owe so much of who I am to what I’ve learned through that process.

One day, I hope to lead research efforts in the space of leadership. I want to use research to prove to the masses that science proves authenticity in leadership matters. In the words of a leader I look up to, the Lorax, “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” *

*If anyone wants to continue this conversation, I would love to hear your take on what that quote means when you think about leadership. My inbox is always open.


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