College and university aren’t just about academia and getting the grades – they’re a crucial rite-of-passage, where students can enhance a multitude of other skills that are coveted by employers.

Among these skills is the ability to be a leader – to take charge of a group, to be the figurehead for a project, and to be responsible for a team’s failings and successes. But how can students develop leadership skills while concentrating on studying? Here’s how…

  • Join a group, team or society
    • To develop leadership skills, first you need to put yourself in a situation where you might be considered a leader. Join one of your college or university’s many societies or clubs – it could be the debate team, it could be the football squad, or it could be a small study group.  Make it known to those running the group that you’re happy to take the lead, and demonstrate to them that you’re confident and in control when you’re spearheading a group chat, giving a pep talk or leading a session.
  • Make targets and goals for yourself
    • The best leaders know that creating targets and working out how you can reach those targets is a crucial part of being in authority. Think of your long-term targets, then work backwards to your short-term targets – what do you want to achieve in five years, three years, one year, six months, by the end of the week?
  • Work on your communication skills
    • No good leader ever had a problem communicating their best ideas to groups. Always strive to improve not just your verbal skills, but your listening skills too. Learning to listen to others is just as important as being able to vocalise ideas when you’re trying to communicate.
  • Serve as an intern
    • Find a place on an internship – your university or college should be able to help you out with this. Here you’ll have the chance to observe real leaders in action, whether they’re running a small local business or a branch of a multinational firm. Ask them for tips and advice, and learn first-hand what it takes to be a successful leader.
  • Appreciate the importance of teamwork
    • What good is a leader without a team to lead? To be a strong and successful leader, you must learn the importance of teamwork, and continue to appreciate the work of any team that you’re in. Rather than trying to run with a project on your own, delegate tasks to your team and watch how the entire group thrives when working in harmony.

 

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