Leadership is one of those concepts that is referenced constantly but often misunderstood. I have always believed that leadership extends beyond titles, and my experience this summer has confirmed this even more. Through my placement in Planned Giving, I have had the privilege of meeting with development professionals across campus and at peer institutions. Some of these people are working in “leadership roles” and many are not, but I have seen time-and-time-again that there are leaders in all positions.
In my classes during the school year, we talked a lot about the difference between a leader and a manager. I am pleased to say that most of the people I have talked with this summer fall into the leader category. These leaders empower others to flourish around them. They meet failure with curiosity and innovation instead of criticism, and they are always looking for ways to make things better and stronger.
I have the privilege of working in a team full of leaders. From the associate directors to the administrative assistants, everyone on my team carries themselves with strength and humility. They build each other up and encourage one another, and they always search for opportunities to grow. It is especially interesting for me to hear stories of how much this dynamic has changed in the past year with new leadership. Having a strong leader heading the team, as opposed to simply a manager, allowed the rest of the team members to bloom into their full potentials as well.
I hope to take this new understanding with me into the future as I enter the work force. I can be a leader in any position, and the extent to which my leadership potential can flourish will also depend in part on the people around me. Now that I know what to look for, I can be more intentional in how I approach different opportunities.