I had the very fortunate chance to speak to 50 high school students this morning. They are part of a mentoring program where they'll help freshmen get acquainted to life at a new school. We covered a lot of ground about leadership and social impact, but here are four quick takeaways I shared about leadership:
- Leaders tell stories. Inside every great leaders is a story to be told, whether it's about equality, the way things could be, the way a business should be run, or how people should behave. Lots of people have stories to tell; what makes someone a leader is that they actually tell it.
- Leaders look for what else can be done. If you're given an assignment and you do it, you're not necessarily a leader; you're just good at following orders. Leaders instead look for what more needs to be done and do it. They see opportunity and create structures, organizations, and mechanisms to make that opportunity an actuality.
- Leaders take all of the necessary steps. There's no shortcut to true leadership. Every step - big or small - must be taken in order to bring about real results. Seemingly infinite challenges and tasks become achievable because a leader is willing to start taking the small and incremental steps towards accomplishing something.
- Leaders think about their legacy. Let's face it: negative leaders are still leaders. Those who lead well consistently think about what kind of people their followers (and their followers) will be. Taking time to think about the impact one is making helps shape great leaders. What will you be known for?
I told some funny stories to illustrate these points, mainly about when I was in second grade. In the end, I hope these high school students will be the kinds of leaders for these freshmen that inspire those freshmen to want to be mentors in a few years' time.