Mathew Van Noten
Why I Am A Leader
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it” -Andrew Carnegie. There are many ways to define a leader, I think a leader is someone who stands by his values no matter what opposition he faces. This means you have to come up with your own definition of what a leader is, and find what you truly believe in. Compare your actions to your definitions of what you think a leader is and act on your values. So before I can convince you that I am a leader we must first define what a leader is to me. There are some general traits that great leaders in the past have demonstrated, and for this essay, I will be discussing the 2 major traits that have been present in well-renowned leaders throughout history that I try to embody in my everyday leadership.
“Good Business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” -Jack Welch former CEO of GE. The first trait that I try to embody that is present in great leaders is a vision. It is important for a leader to have a vision and have an idea of where they're at and a clear idea of where they are going, this allows the leader to tap into the emotion of a group of employees and get them motivated to work towards a common goal. Currently, in my life, I demonstrate vision when leading group meetings at Ceder Ridge around the student lounge and the landscaping of the building. I have a clear objective in mind of what I want the student lounge to look like and I use other’s perspectives to add to the idea, then consult the group and make a final decision. Another example of when I demonstrated vision was the Osgoode rugby team. As the captain of the team I had the vision to take us to the city championships, I saw the flaws in our game style and set some new drills in place that focused on our weak points of play and relentlessly did them. We ended up winning city championships that year for the first time in Osgoode history. I think we shocked everyone when our Osgoode 7s rugby team who no one knew about prior to the season ended up beating the former undefeated Sacred Heart squad. This goes to show how vision in leadership can take a country bumpkin school of people who had no idea how to hold a rugby ball, to beating a school almost 3 times our size.
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them, they stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions life presents to them.” - Jack Canfield Creator of Chicken Soup For The Soul and the world renowned success coach. Another highly important trait that leaders repeatedly have is Focus. It is very important that a leader has the ability to make sure that everyone is concentrated on the most valuable use of their time, which allows them to be highly productive and achieve a common goal more efficiently by not getting distracted by petty things. I think that I embody this trait in my everyday life. You may remember the consensus game we played at Red Pine camp, this game was a perfect demonstration of my struggle to assert focus on the group as a leader. The game has a simple objective; come to a unanimous consensus on who lives and who dies, that was how you won. Although my attempt to get the group to focus on the simple task of winning the game failed, it showed that I try to get the group to focus on how to achieve the end goal, because it really doesn't have any impact on our lives which fictional characters live or die. Yet it is consuming our time which could be spent doing other things that have an impact on our lives. As you witnessed I got a huge backlash of people arguing and rebelling against the system I tried to set in place, so I decided that that was not a productive use of my time and because everyone was so opposed to my idea of completing the game I left early. This example shows how unproductive a group can be when there is no focus on the main goal (agreeing on which fictional character lives and dies) and people getting distracted by the petty things (arguing “what ifs” and “the grey area”). Although the activity was unsuccessful in my opinion and left people feeling hurt, I think it was a prime example of me trying to assert focus on a group.
In conclusion, I demonstrate the two aspects of a great leader that I think are most important in successful leadership, (vision and focus) and although there are many more traits that I think great leaders embodied I have gone well beyond the word maximum of 500. I think is is crucial to define what attributes a leader exemplifies in your own mind and let those traits manifest in your personality so that you can use them to become a successful leader in your life.