What it Means to be a Leader

Today’s blog post is written by one of the newest interns on the SOS Leadership team, Monique Moreno. Monique is a student at St. Edward’s University.

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.
Roy E. Disney

Growing up the eldest of four definitely gave me my fair share of opportunities to demonstrate leadership growing up. My absolute favorite line to hear was, “I don’t care that he did it too; you are the eldest and you should know better.” Seriously, the highlight to my day.

Should age necessarily translate to the assumption that we should know better? I believe that we should know better with age, but not all people seem to follow this logic. Looking at some of the celebrities these days shows that not everyone matures at the same speed.

But none of us ordinary folk that grew up in ordinary homes have valid excuses to not be leaders. (Though, to be honest, none of those bad celebrities have valid excuses either!)

In order to be a good leader, you first have to be well aware of what values you hold dear to your heart.

The other night, I attended a manifesto workshop. We had a blank piece of paper and a pen, and our task was to write our values, things we want to accomplish, things we want others to see in us, and dreams we are too scared to acknowledge.  Although it was awkward at first, the more we wrote, the easier it became to see what made us who we are.

This exercise was of much value because I was able to clearly see what composed me. Writing a manifesto is one of the most helpful things to do because it was like reading a map of who I was. With my manifesto in tow, I am able to easily reference a physical paper to see what it means to be me when I am having a bad day. On paper, these things are promises to myself. One of the phrases: “I love bacon and I love shrimp and would be incomplete without them in my life.” Even with a statement like that, it can be read as a subliminal promise to myself to never stop savoring the lovely things life has to offer and that I fully plan on always being one of those moms who has dessert on the table after meatloaf night.

Being a leader means never being afraid to be who you are. Being a leader means leading an ethical life and sometimes sucking up your pride for the sake of what’s right. Being a leader is something all of us can aspire to be and it shouldn’t be seen as something that is intimidating.  With a clear view of what our values are, we can all become leaders.

“Leadership” in today’s culture is seen as a heavy word, a word that demands responsibility, honesty, and leading a life that your mother would be proud of. It’s not that hard to do these things – in fact, we should all be striving to do these things. Not once have I had someone tell me, “You consider yourself a leader? Go home and take a nap because that’s not going to take you anywhere in life.” On the contrary, I have been praised for my ability to take charge, lead an honorable life, and simply avoid the drama.

Leadership to me is not a loaded word. It’s not a trait. It’s not something only those in authority should feel the need to have on their resume. Leadership is a lifestyle we all should strive to live.

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