1. Excellent Communication Skills Are Necessary For Academic Leadership
Far and away the most important academic leadership quality that a person can have?
The ability to both communicate their own ideas effectively, as well as listen and prove engagement with the ideas of others.
Let’s say you’ve been nominated by your classmates as the leader of a large group project.
It’s all about good — and usually, frequent — communication.
Start by asking people about what they love to do. Once you get to know their strengths (and even their personalities) you’ll be able to delegate in a way that satisfies everyone. Then, be sure to check in throughout the process.
Additionally, proactivity is all about planning ahead and anticipating problems. It means always having a Plan B in place so that you’re not scrambling when something unexpected happens.
You might create a study schedule for an upcoming exam, in order to prevent cramming the night before.
You might start researching and applying to summer academic programs months before the summer vacation actually starts so that you can be sure to pick the best one for you.
Of course, being proactive means that you’ll also have a list of other possible ways to spend your summer, just in case you don’t get into the program of your choice.
Proactivity means having the ability to recognize which tasks are the most essential, and creating a prioritized list of what needs to be accomplished first.
3. Knowing When To Take Risks
Strong academic leadership is not about playing it safe.
Of course, there’s a difference between knowing when to take risks, and acting in a reckless manner. The quality of a good leader is knowing which risks are worth taking.
This means that you’ll need to evaluate the potential losses and gains of each risky decision you’re considering making. What is the worst thing that could happen — and are those worst-case scenarios something you can recover from?
Alternatively, are the possible positive outcomes simply too great to pass up? And do you have a determined team of people around you that can lessen your chances of failure?
Remember, leadership (and life) is all about getting out of your comfort zone.
People aren’t going to like your ideas. You’re going to make some missteps along the way. Your proposals will get rejected, you won’t win every election, and you won’t ace every exam.
What matters is your ability to learn from your mistakes, and to appreciate the errors you’ve made as an opportunity for growth.
Adopting a resilient attitude won’t only prevent you from talking down to yourself and underestimating your abilities. It will also inspire those around you to dust themselves off and get back out there.
Embrace rejection, and count every failure as one step closer to a success.
5. Passion For What You Do
Whatever you’re passionate about, think about how your academic performance and even extracurricular activities will help you to feed that passion and improve your skill set.
If you love what you do, you won’t think twice about staying up late to get things done. Staying in to study as opposed to going out with your friends to a big party won’t feel like a sacrifice because you know you’re on the road to a larger goal waiting down the line.
Once you figure out what makes you tick, stick with it — and share your love with others so they can be inspired by your passion.
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