Be the Captain

Every group project I have I get placed into this position of leadership. I never ask for it, I sometimes do not typically want the position, yet I always get in the position. For a while, I was concerned about this. I mean I have no training in leading a group, I am bad at confrontation, and I can get nervous taking initiative sometimes. But it took me until oh about an hour ago to realize those are not the only traits of great leaders. So here is a small list of what I look for in leaders and what I believe a good leader should be:

Do not ask others to do what you are not willing to do.

Although many of my teammates have said I ask a lot from them, at the end of projects they always say I end up doing to much by myself. I am always willing to put in the long hours of work and if I have to I will revamp everything the night before because I do not want to seem that I just “bossed people around.”

Be organized.

To do list, sticky notes, gantt charts, timelines, goal sheets, weekly updates and reminders. That is what I look for and what I strive to do for every group. While sometimes things fall between the cracks, I can see my improvement with every group I get into.

My work desk and task list for my Biomimicry class while studing aboad in Lacoste, France.

Accept that you do not know all of the answers.

I struggle with this sometimes where I think my way is the right way. and I think everyone struggles with this at times. But a good leader knows when to back down and let others take the lead to create the best outcome.

Be Available.

I need someone who is going to answer my questions. and if I am up until 4am working and I have a question I think the leader should be able to answer. Especially on school projects. I try to always stay awake when I know team members are working. I think if we are all striving for the same outcome we should all be working together.

Teach not Tell.

Holy manoli. I really struggle when my mentors give me a riddle to answer my questions. Sometimes I want a straightforward answer but then I realize I learn so much more when I am not given the direct answer. This past winter quarter was a crazy one, I would get soooo incredibly frustrated when my professor would not email me back to answer my questions. But after the class, I realized that he was not ignoring me because I was the one student in the class that asked a million questions and he was annoyed, but he wanted me to come to the outcome by myself. (or at least that is what I am going to say to myself so I feel better)

See Skills and Distribute Accordingly.

One of my small but powerful skills is that I can see everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and distribute the tasks so we all can accomplish great things. This makes for higher productivity and less stressful environments.


I know I am not the best leader. I have a lot of room to grow and learn. But the great thing is I keep putting myself in positions to grow. This upcoming year I will be President of the Service Design Network Club, President of Gulfstream School of Design Student Relations Committee, and Vice President of IDSA. I will be in my second Collaborative Learning Class and I will be in many other classes where my skills will continue to grow.

I love to surround myself with many leaders of different skills, different fields, and different processes. Good leaders never want to lead they want to make a change. I get inspired every day by my professors and mentors to make a change, to hone my skills and to never stop learning.

Thanks to everyone who has been on the journey with me, who has taught me the skills I know, and to everyone who will continue on my journey and growth!

-M.


Originally published at www.mpreiss.com.