Leading While Young | #5

I have held leadership roles in different organizations before, such as on my sports teams or for group projects, but being a supervisor here is very different from these past positions for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I do not have a lot of experience or preparation for this role, so I am having to constantly rely on help and guidance from more experienced supervisors. It is a struggle to find the balance between acting like I know everything when of course I don’t, which would cause errors by leading me to make uninformed decisions, and acting like I know nothing, which also would slow us down because I would have to wait for someone else to make every single decision for me. I am striving to present myself to my team as someone who is capable of leading them so they can be confident in my decisions, while still showing that I don’t know everything and am open to input.

The pressure to find this balance is increased by the other major difference between this and other leadership roles I have had, which is that the people I am leading are much different in age than me. All three of my team members are older than me and one has more years of experience than I do. The only reason I am the supervisor is because I am familiar with how this specific dig operates. This makes it extra important for me to find the right balance in how I present myself, because there is less natural reason for them to trust my decisions and work with me.

Being put in a supervisory position on this project is improving my leadership skills by forcing me to check how I’m presenting myself and actively consider what leadership style I need to adopt in order to best achieve what I’m trying to achieve. It is also teaching how to lead while not being an expert, which I think is a valuable skill to have.

Featured image: my daily spread of paperwork, involving two laptops, two notebooks, and stacks of context sheets.

One thought on “Leading While Young | #5

  • July 31, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Hebe –

    1) congratulations on being promoted! I think you made the right decision by saying yes. Your supervisor needed the help, you have 2 years experience, and it’s a huge opportunity for you as you apply to your MA programs. That kind of leadership experience is huge.

    2) You are right, how lucky are you to have a mentor in Katherine. She sounds patient, kind, and smart. Have you given thought to how you will thank her at the end of the summer (or now), and how you might stay in touch after this experience? Sounds like she could be a valuable relationship to hold on to while you’re in graduate school, and beyond.

    3) I absolutely love this reflection on the fine line you have to walk as a supervisor. It sounds like you’re doing a fine job both co-creating a process with your team, and showing leadership as much as possible. As I said earlier, I think this kind of leadership experience will really set you apart as you apply to graduate school. How you tell that story in applications, personal statements, cover letters, interviews, will be important!


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