Leading By Example

Joshua - Houghton, Michigan
Entered on April 10, 2013
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“The point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, and to use yourself completely – all your gifts, skills and energies – to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader).

When I was younger, anytime someone would ask who wanted to be the team leader of any kind of group, I was never the first to jump out of my seat. In fact, before my second or third year in college, I rarely held that kind of position in a group. I was not someone who enjoyed being in the spotlight, not that I couldn’t have done it.

When I started college I was still very hesitant on volunteering for leadership positions in any kind of group. I always carried my weight, sometimes even more than I probably should have. I joined a fraternity my first year, and I started to see a different take on leadership roles. Obviously there are many types of leaders in large fraternity, but what I noticed was who I saw as the best of the group. It wasn’t the president, vice or other high ranking officers. It was a couple brothers who, despite not being in charge, were able to put together great teams and events.

One brother, Andy, was able to organize a sexual awareness presentation, performed by an acting troupe from Central Michigan University. It didn’t seem like a very exciting event but to my surprise, and everyone else, it was great. So good, in fact, that Andy was highly praised, by brothers, other students and faculty. Up until that point many people had no idea how much was going into the event. I saw, however, because I helped, not that it was something that absolutely thrilled me, but I saw his passion for it when we talked about it.

From then on I started brainstorming ideas. Events, chores or whatever else I could do to contribute to benefit my fraternity. I never made a big speech, or openly asked for a bunch of volunteers to help me with anything. Sometimes this meant working on something by myself, this was fine though. I was making a difference.

I am now one of the oldest members in my chapter. I have held multiple officer positions and started annual events that will continue for many years. Most of this didn’t come from me forcing teams and committees. It simply happened because I took pride in what I was doing, people saw my passion, and were inspired to join in. To me, the best leaders are not sitting in an executive chair, or speaking in front of crowds. They are the people so dedicated to their cause that people can’t help to notice. This I believe is leader I’m striving to become.