What is leadership?

Leadership has been described as being able to organize a group of people to attain a common goal. [1]

This is a much-needed skill for any individual becoming an entrepreneur, especially a student entrepreneur. Usually while still a student, you have limited funds or experience to back your venture. It is important to be able to enlist others in your vision. Whether you are working to get a loan, gaining employee support, or trying to get people buy into your idea. Leadership is an essential ability when learning to succeed in business. Why not get a head start while your learning all the other necessary skills in post-secondary and test out your unique leadership styles.

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Why is it important?

As soon as you take on a leadership role within your school, many more opportunities open up.  Do you want to stand out when you graduate? Of course, who doesn’t? Everyone who graduates in your field can showcase the same accreditation on their resume; they can talk about the same courses and same experiences within.

The only thing that is going to separate you from your fellow graduates is your answers to:

  • What else did you do?
  • Where did you spend your extra time when others celebrated the fact it was a weekend?
  • Who did you help when everyone else was helping himself or herself?
  • When everyone else decided it was time for a break, did you decide it was time to make a difference?

Those are the things that will separate you as a leader when you graduate, the experiences you created that allowed you to generate opportunities for yourself and others. While most only concerned themselves with their present, you were working for the future.  You don’t have to be President or a CEO to be a leader; you just have to take the initiative to motivate others to do something they wouldn’t have done without your support.

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Tips on Leadership

Nobody is born a leader; nobody is born with the ability to engage others in a common goal.  Just like playing basketball, baking a cake or driving a car; it all takes practice.  For me, I can try to pretend it came naturally because I don’t like claiming my strengths as it makes me feel conceited, but it took many years of practice.  There is no one event that made me decide that it was my turn, there is no easy fix to become a leader. I always Google the stuff I should just be doing, especially when I’m suppose to study, but just like when you’re trying to get fit, watching a video about tips and tricks to being more fit isn’t going to cut it.

Here are some ideas of where and how to get practice gaining leadership skills:

Research club opportunities:

Student clubs are the best way to gain experience right away. They are always looking for more volunteers, especially those with an enthusiasm to help wherever they can.

Set a schedule in order to find time:

Time management is key to even beginning to gain the skills necessary to be a leader. It is a battle for almost everyone. If you can learn to manage your time, and even plan time for the unplanned, you will be successful.

Attend meetings:

Don’t ever underestimate the knowledge gained from sharing ideas while brainstorming or sharing information. The power of one person to generate an idea is great, but the power garnered from the support of a whole team of minds working together is incalculable.

Join a club:

The opportunities opened from club membership is usually infinite.  It provides an accredited source of the projects you are working on. You will meet like-minded individuals passionate about working towards similar goals.

Face your Fears:

I can’t stress this enough. Fear is the largest obliteration of goals.  Without trying to get over your fears, you won’t be able to realize your potential.  You’ll need to identify them first and figure out where they stemmed from. There is no expectation to get over a fear immediately, but instead take the small steps necessary to open new opportunities.

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The Student Leadership Challenge textbook  talks about five practices for exemplary leaders.


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[1] Leadership – Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership (Oct 2010)

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Jessica is currently attending her second year at BCIT in the business management option of the school of business and is the President of the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) organization at BCIT.

Prior to attending BCIT, Jessica worked in both the hospitality and real estate industries as a project assistant. After realizing that she needed to go back to school to continue to advance in her industry, she jumped at the chance to turn her job into a career by attending the BCIT Business Management program.

Jessica’s goals at BCIT were to quickly finish her diploma and pick up her career in the real-estate industry. However, after attending orientation day at BCIT she learned about SIFE and decided that it was the perfect opportunity to learn the real world skills to accompany here studies in the classroom. After attending a few meetings she quickly signed up as a project manager for the first ever, Fuse Gala. Strategically utilizing her connections in the industry, Jessica and a team of SIFE members successfully hosted the largest student run networking/fundraising event that BCIT had ever seen.

At the end of her first year at BCIT Jessica decided that she wanted to be apart of the team that would lead the BCIT chapter of SIFE to success the following year. She was elected the president of SIFE BCIT in May of 2010 with the goal of taking SIFE BCIT to greater heights through more student involvement, increased partnerships and an increase in support from community leaders.

Upon completing her year as SIFE president, Jessica will continue her education at BCIT in the Bachelor of Business Administration degree program and remain an active member with SIFE BCIT as an alumni.

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