The ability to lead is a skill that is valued and sought after by an increasing number of employers. You might think that you are not a leader, but like most things in life, you can learn effective leadership skills and what better place to do it than while at university?

What Is Leadership?

The official definition of leadership, as per the Oxford dictionary, is “the action of leading a group of people or an organisation, or the ability to do this.” Although defined as leading, leadership entails much more than just that. From my experience, I have concluded that leadership is also about providing vision and direction, motivating others, and helping them be the best they can be while achieving the so-called impossible.

Kurt Uhlir, the CEO and co-founder of Sideqik has a great addition to the description of leadership: "Too many people view management as leadership. It is not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role. Being open and authentic, helping to lift others up and working toward a common mission, build influence. True leadership comes when those around you are influenced by your life in a positive way."

Is It Worth The Effort?

In one word: definitely! You might not want the big corner office or the responsibility of having your own team, but don’t let this deter you from developing these skills. In university, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The skills that you learn are invaluable and you will benefit from them for the rest of your life.

Putting yourself in a position to develop your leadership skills will help build your confidence, give you a platform to discover new talents, and give you exposure to developing numerous other skills such as negotiation, communication, problem-solving, strategic planning, and networking to name a few.

Where Do You Start?

One option is to join a student organisation at your university, debate clubs, possible mock UN organisations, or even Business societies.  Click here to read our blog about how joining a student organisation can give you an edge.

  • Volunteer to be a class representative. The extent of how much you will have to do greatly depends on the lecturer and what they require from you. This will help you build a good relationship with your lecturer, and learn numerous skills.
  • Participate in class activities. Not only will this make the class more entertaining, but it will also help build your confidence as a public speaker and make it easier to voice your opinion. Don’t  be shy to raise your hand and ask a question about something that is unclear, or to give your opinion when the lecturer asks a question.
  • Volunteer at a charity, or consider finding a job. Adding some responsibility to your life has a lot of benefits , and in this case it will give you a space where you can take initiative, solve problems, and learn to work well with others.
  • Another great way to help develop your leadership skills is to take a quiz to determine your leadership style, so you can understand what type of personality you have and work towards developing the right set of habits and traits. You can also start reading books about leadership or find a mentor.

The general consensus is that leaders are made, rather than born. You have the potential to become a person that others depend on and listen to, you can make a difference in your university, community and one day organisation. And all the opportunities to develop these skills are available at your university. Exploit these opportunities while they are at your disposal and you will reap the benefits long after you graduate.

For more helpful advice, you can visit our blogs page.

About the Author: Lizan Gray, an adventurer at heart, is originally from South Africa and currently a copywriter in Dubai. She is busy finishing her degree in Business Administration.