One of my goals this semester was to get as involved as humanly possible. I think I can safely say that I’ve achieved that goal. A few days ago, I squared away all my Beta Alpha Psi points, with plenty to spare. I wrapped up being Director of Wednesday Technical Meetings for the Accounting Association and have heard rumblings that I’ll be Director of Student Development for the upcoming Spring semester. The Saturday Seminar led by Diana is officially on hold as far as class sessions go, but it’s constantly on my mind.
Last of all, there’s the Ernst and Young Leadership Seminar. For those that don’t know what the seminar is, it’s a weekly session facilitated by Ernst and Young professionals (for the most part). The topics range from how to have useful conversations (“fierce conversations”), trying to figure out what drives you, to diversity and much more. There’s only so much that can be accomplished within a two hour weekly window and the topics tend to move pretty quickly, so it’s difficult to point out any one particular thread or topic that the seminar covers.
While there’s no homework involved in the class, there are two assignments. One is a community college outreach program – for me, it involved heading back to Moorpark College and presenting on the ACCT/IS program at CSUN (as a side note, I attended one of these presentations myself three years ago, it’s one of the things that solidified my Accountancy major choice). The other assignment is developing a “leadership board” – a board that defines what we learned about ourselves and how we see ourselves developing as a leader. Sounds right up my alley, right?
The only problem is, it’s really not that easy for me. I mean, my view on leadership is such a hodgepodge collection of different ideas that it’s hard to distill down to an essence. I view myself as a newborn when it comes to leadership. I’m trying to get as much exposure to it as I can, but I haven’t had much chance to practice it. It’s rather like accounting or IS: I have a theoretical background, but I have little practical experience.
I remember my first job out of high school as a customer service coordinator at HomeGoods. I looked up to my manager, Gary, because he seemed like a good leader. Now, I look back at his petty nature and underhanded dealings and wonder how the store managed to do well. It’s interesting to think about how my views on leadership have changed. It used to be that, like Gary, the people I looked up to were the ones that had power granted to them by their title. Whether it was manager, professor, or CEO, the title did it for me. That was all I needed.
Then, I figured out that a title doesn’t mean all that much. There are good leaders that have no official title. There are terrible leaders that have the highest titles. In fact, I would almost say that there are more leaders of the latter kind than former. The more I learn about leadership, though, the more I realize that it doesn’t matter to me. It reminds me a lot of one of the sayings my dad went through the trouble of printing out and handing to me: “Leadership is in your actions, not your title.”
So, with these conflicting ideas of leadership rattling around in my head, the question still stands: where do I see myself going?
I think the answer for me, right here, right now, is this: I see myself being more like me.
That sounds weird, right? At least it looks weird to me when I read it. However, I think it’s true. I don’t think the me that I am right now is really me. There’s too much of other people, of my past experiences, of my unknown biases for it to really be me.
As a good friend and mentor once explained it, it’s like a pencil: take all your biases and thoughts about a pencil away, remove the past and future of the pencil, and it’s still a pencil. I don’t think I’m to that point with myself yet. I still think of myself as a product of my actions, of my experiences, of even my biological background. I know appallingly little about me.
So, I see myself becoming more like me. And, as I get to be more like me, I think my own style of leadership will develop. If I had to predict, I think it’ll incorporate a lot of elements of other successful leaders, but it won’t be because I’m really trying to emulate or be them. It’ll be because I’m me.