One of the biggest mistakes many graduating student leaders make is not looking at their position as an opportunity to mentor rising student leaders. Furthermore, student leaders often fall victim to a “do it all myself” attitude. One of the best ways to mentor rising campus leaders is to help them gain experience. If your mentees are not given an opportunity to lead at some level, how can they become effective campus leaders? A leader’s legacy is sometimes defined by what they’ve done when they are no longer present not what they accomplished while they were there.
Although the next administration may have their own ideas about how to lead the campus, your challenge as the incumbent leader is to help guide and nurture future leaders of your organization or campus. This is critical because this will define your legacy. I believe the reason why systems in the world don’t change very often is because the ideas were put in place by great thinkers and leaders. Ideas rule the world not people. So what ideas are you putting in the minds of your mentees? If your mentees adopt your best and brightest ideas, you are sure to have a lasting legacy.
Some ideas to help give peer mentees an opportunity to lead:
1. Give them a chance to run meetings and give them feedback after the meeting is over.
2. Give them a chance to work on a big project. Don’t give them all of the responsibility but allow them to contribute and observe what you are doing. In doing so, they will not feel overwhelmed and this will allow them to stay engaged in the process.
3. Give them “what-if scenarios.” For example, what would you do if a member is not giving 100 percent to the organization or what would you do when you have two members that refuse to work together? Allow them to present their ideas and answers as well as offer insight on how to handle certain situations.
4. If you cannot attend an important event, allow them to go in your absence. This way they get the experience and they know how to conduct themselves the next time around
5. Help them find their personal leadership style. Ask them questions about how they plan to run the show and why they plan to run it that way.
Implement these ideas and you’re sure to cultivate a leader and leave a legacy all at the same time.
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