Finding the leader within

By Catherine Dilworth
April 11, 2002

Competence is one of the attributes that transcend all cultures. For instance, being competent as an administrator means you can be counted on to do things correctly. While administrative competence may not be the stuff Hollywood uses to portray a charismatic leader, in real life competence counts.

Responsibility also counts. Regardless of cultural differences, people want leaders who are trustworthy, exhibit high levels of integrity and handle matters justly and honestly. In fact, responsibility is especially vital for the transformation and charismatic leader- having a leadership style that inspires followers to look beyond merely making more money and looking for the feeling of accomplishment. Roosevelt and Hitler were both transformational and charismatic leaders. They both inspired millions to follow their vision for the future and they both implemented monumental change. One did so responsibly, the other murdered millions of his own people.

Therefore, teaching students how to increase their charismatic power by helping them communicate more persuasively in writing and speaking does not alleviate the need to teach competence in accounting, finance, marketing, information systems, and management. Many students wonder why they must take core classes. For instance, why the heck must I take a calculus course if I plan on being a journalist? Because people around the world expect administrative competence from their leaders. I feel even more emphasis should be placed on the responsibility aspects of leadership in college.

Practically everyone seems to think they know what good leadership is. Unfortunately, opinions differ widely. Not all varying opinions can be correct. What I may be telling you may be a crock as well, I just know it works for me and everyone must find the leader within and lead themselves before they can lead others.

Some skilled authors and persuasive public speakers are getting rich promoting their personal opinions about leadership. Am I, as a college student going to call up the guy with question marks on his jacket to buy a book on leadership? Should I call upon Miss Cleo, who is actually a Floridian bum with a good accent, to see if I am a good leader? The answer is a resounding no. Leadership is something within.

I also remember Marine Corps leadership traits by this acronym; JJ DID TIE BUCKLE. Judgment, Justice, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Endurance, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Enthusiasm and Loyalty. Applying this to being a leader and taking on new responsibilities makes it less scary and gives you more confidence.

I found out a long time ago that I am a leader. Not because I always took initiative and ran with my instinct, but because I hated to be under someone else’s rule and I always thought I could do it better. I view leadership in many different aspects. I follow certain traits when involved in a leadership position. However I always know that I need to know myself and seek self-improvement all the time.

I make sound and timely decisions. I try to set the example. Most importantly I take responsibility for my actions. Ever since I messed up a project real bad because I was afraid to ask for clarification, I ensure assigned tasks are understood and accomplished. You must also not get in over your head and knows your capabilities.

You must want it. It is scary to be out on the edge with people depending on you, but it is the best view.

Is there any hope for preparing competent and responsible leaders? Can colleges help students who aspire to become leaders with high authority? The answer is a resounding yes!

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Catherine Dilworth

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