Developing Your Leadership Skills as a Student
Earlier this year, we looked at some of the skills that will be most in demand in the business workplace by 2025. According to the Future of Jobs Report 2020, so-called ‘soft skills’ such as good communication, creative thinking and ideation, as well as personal resilience and flexibility will be just as highly sought after as technical know-how. One highly-rated skill that those established in the business world will be looking for is good leadership.
The ability to influence and lead others may seem like an innate quality, a trait that comes naturally to some. However leadership is a skill that can be honed in the same way that you would learn new information or develop a practical skill. Moreover, it’s a skill that you can start to develop while you are still studying. With an increasingly competitive jobs market, it can only be a good thing to highlight your unique leadership qualities. Showing yourself to be a good leader through the actions you take as a student will show future employers that you have more to offer than other graduates.
What do we mean by leadership skills?
Being a leader doesn’t simply mean holding a position of authority. Equally, being in a position of authority doesn’t automatically make you a good leader. Leadership is a broad set of skills that incorporates both the practicalities of managing people (that is, giving them jobs to do and seeing that they are done), and the development of other skills and qualities such as creativity, adaptability, problem solving, communication, perseverance and emotional intelligence. A good leader not only brings out those qualities in themselves, but also in those around them.
In our recent interview with Camille Cadua, the outgoing President of the UBIS Student Council, she highlighted how those in the Student Council have shown leadership. She highlighted that the Student Council members have had a positive impact on students because of their shared values. Camille told us that she considered the Student Council as ‘the face of the university…the face that students can look up to, depend on, talk to and be friends with’.
In her perception of herself as a leader, it’s clear that Camille wasn’t thinking about simply being ‘in charge’ or about her role’s title. Instead the Student Council members demonstrated their leadership through their ability to relate to and understand the student body, taking their cues from the needs of their peers and building strong relationships.
Maintaining good relationships was at the heart of Camille’s advice to future members of the Student Council, too. Her advice to help one another as a team, to be approachable and encouraging. ‘Be that role model that the students can look up to. Teach them to be the next role model’, Camille advises.
Developing your leadership at university
The Student Council is a great way to demonstrate and enhance your leadership skills as a student. But it isn’t the only way to do so. There are a number of ways that you can develop your skillset – many of which we are sure you’ll already be doing!
Good leaders are also good team players. Even when most courses have moved online, there are stills ways in which you can ensure you still have the opportunity to collaborate with others. These include putting your name forward to lead on a group presentation or project, or taking responsibility for a set role within in a task. Why not take the initiative to set up an online study group for your classmates? Leadership involves taking action and there are lots of opportunities to show yourself as a proactive individual.
At UBIS, we offer our students hands-on, practical experiences of working in the business world. These opportunities are a perfect way for you to develop your leadership skills. Take the initiative, ask questions and show yourself to be a motivated candidate. Think about how you can stay connected to the network of contacts you will start to build up. This also applies to any interests or experiences you have outside of your course of study. Perhaps you volunteer with a charity, or are part of a sports team? What about your part-time job? These are all opportunities to demonstrate your commitment, adaptability and interpersonal skills – all of which are key to good leadership.
Take yourself out of your ‘comfort zone’
Holding on to perceptions of leadership as something that is only relevant to those in high-profile or traditionally ‘powerful’ roles is unhelpful. In reality, developing as a good leader is something that we’re sure you’re already well on your way to doing. What is most important is that you continue to develop – and that may mean doing things differently or trying something new. Having this positive and proactive approach is what will help to set you apart both as a candidate for a job and as a leader in other areas of your life.
Employers will be looking for those who are not afraid to take themselves out of their comfort zone. Be prepared at interviews to talk about the ways in which you are already doing this; from taking the lead on a group presentation to following up with the company you did a work placement with. Moreover, reflect on the positive impact your action will have on others. Your leadership will help to foster new working relationship and boost the confidence and focus of your peers. As Camille mentioned, you can role model good leadership for others.
As we go into the new academic year, consider the ways in which you can continue to develop your leadership. Ask us about the forthcoming opportunities and courses we have at UBIS and consider how these will have a positive impact on your future as a leader in the business world. Take action now and set yourself up for a great year ahead.