Are you comfortable being, or becoming, a leader? As a Jaycee, and many of you reading this are, have been, or will soon be Jaycees, I hope that you are at the very least comfortable with the idea of seeing yourself as a leader. One of the common themes, or mottos, of Jaycees is “We Build Leaders,” and that theme carries through year after year with Jaycees around the world. If we are in a room together, a room full of Jaycees, and yourself included, and I ask the question “Who here is a leader?” would you raise your hand? My hope is that in a room full of Jaycees every hand would be raised. If you would have your hand raised, then that is great… you’re already comfortable knowing and accepting your position. If you wouldn’t have your hand raised, then I hope after reading this post, you will realize that leadership is not something above your, or out of your reach, and you probably are already doing some leadership-title-worthy things. I’ve been a leader in many situations, organizations, and in businesses. Today, I want to share with you some things I have learned or noticed during my short time within the Mississippi Junior Chamber and Hattiesburg Jaycees. I hope this will change your perspective on what leadership really is, and help to realize your own leadership potential.
As I said, I’ve been in other leadership roles, but Jaycees brought a new perspective for me in the way that it is not just about being a leader, but building new leaders – and that comes instantly after you take office. I noticed it the very first time I was in a conversation with my local chapter leaders. I noticed how the experienced members would say things like “we should ask _____ to be a project manager,” or “I have talked with ____ about leading our next meeting.” At first, I’ll admit… I thought it was weird. I wondered why they delegated everything if THEY were supposed to be the leaders. Then, I was one of the ____. They asked me to lead a project. The Hattiesburg Christmas Parade. I’d never even attended the one they had hosted for over 50 years (I live in a neighboring town). I didn’t know anything about running a parade. There was no PMG to reference. It wasn’t a simple project, but I knew I was capable. It felt good to know that they not only believed in me, but trusted me to do it. Of course they helped and nudged me along the way, and everything went really well. What I didn’t expect though, was that during that very first project, I was already building leadership, too. I was following their example of looking for and targeting people to lead a certain area – putting my trust in them to complete the tasks at hand. Asking people to step up to the plate and go to bat with you, I believe, is the first small step to becoming a leader.
How many of you have been asked to help on a project or program? How many of you have asked others for help on a project or program you were in charge of? Do you remember the first time you were asked to assist on something? How did it change you? the people you have asked, they will usually start becoming more involved, lead their own programs or projects, maybe join the board of directors, and in some cases move up in their personal life, such as a promotion or complete career change. All of it may be just because YOU took the time to invest in them, believe in them, support them, trust them, to ask for their help. Better yet… help leaders build more leaders. Surely there is someone who is already helping and doing a lot. That person who is always there, ready to do whatever needs to be done. Go to that person, let them know what a great leader they are; the example they have set. Then, teach them how to pass that on. Give them a project to lead, and make sure they are asking for help instead of doing everything on their own (even if they are perfectly capable).
Now, think back to the beginning when I asked who would raise their hand and say “I am a leader.”? I hope those who initially wouldn’t, are now rethinking that. If you’re the person who is asking people to be involved, and then they do… you’re a leader to that person. You may be the person who engages the next President. Now, whether it’s a local chapter, US Jaycees, or the USA – the potential is there, and it has already happened to other jaycees, in all of those areas. Yes, we have built more than one POTUS!
It may be scary to think of yourself as a leader, because of the power that comes with that title. Knowing that you were the person responsible for engaging people, that you have the power to change a person’s life in a major way, it may seem like something too far away, unreachable, but it’s not. If you think of it on that smaller scale though, as just getting one person to become involved with one thing. It makes leading easier. Bringing it to a daily platform, where you can really make a difference every single day. You don’t have to change the world. Learn to value the smaller impact. Just one day, just one person. Help that person understand what they are capable of. Plant the seed of leadership… and don’t forget to nurture and watch it continue to grow. Plant as many seeds as you can, and encourage them to do the same. That is all it takes to be a leader. You are probably already doing it. I hope this helps you to recognize the leader you are.
About the Author: Sabreya is the 2016 State Liaison for Mississippi Jaycees. She served as the 2015 Chapter President for the Hattiesburg Jaycees. She is currently a student, pursuing her dream of becoming a 3D artist of computer animation and CGI elements.