How To Make An Impact Series #2

I recently posted a comment to an online discussion. The question was, When did you first realize you were a leader?

In my response, I stated that my first leadership role was eraser monitor. “The job of the eraser monitor was to take the erasers from the chalkboard (do we still use chalkboards?) outside and bang them together to get the chalk off them. The monitor always returned to the room a bit pale.”

As a child, and well into adolescence, I viewed leadership as a role or position that someone filled. You were a leader if you had the title, the t-shirt, and the nametag. If you didn’t have a position, you weren’t the leader.

The Impact Graph

The Impact Graph (click on image to see full size)

This brings us back to the Impact Graph. There are two measurements in the graph. One distinguishes between leaders and followers, the other between impact and no impact. In the last post, I describe those who fall into the follower-no impact category as “spectators.” In this post, I want to address the leader-no impact category. A group of people I like to call “figureheads.”

I see the figurehead group quite a bit on our campus. Every year we will go through an election and selection process to fill the “leadership” positions for the following year. These include such positions as student government, resident assistants, class council, club leadership, peer mentors, etc. All of these positions have responsibilities and tasks that must be accomplished, as well as people to be guided throughout the year.

Unfortunately, some students — once selected or elected — don’t do anything. They are…figureheads.

A figurehead has the following characteristics:

  • Holds a “position” of leadership (which is the lowest form of leadership) but doesn’t do anything to lead within the position.
  • Does the least required. Perhaps focusing on the perceived benefits of holding a position (power, prestige, resume’ builder).
  • Fills a position for the wrong reasons (typically selfish).
  • Works alone in accomplishing the tasks of the position with no effort to engage or involve people.

It is very tempting to think that you only need a position and then you’ll be recognized as a leader. While many people are elected or selected to a leadership position because they’ve demonstrated skill and abilities in a certain area, a student doesn’t become a student leader by position alone. You have to actually lead (move to the left of the graph).

If you are currently in a student leadership position, there are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you don’t fall into  “figurehead” status:

  1. Are you getting other people involved through your position?
  2. Why did you run or apply for this position?
  3. What have you accomplished through your position and who’s helped you accomplish it?

Don’t settle for being a figurehead. In the next series post, I’ll move to the impact side of the graph and talk about what it takes to be a “go-getter”.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “How To Make An Impact Series #2

  1. Dear Tim,I think your web site is great! I asked God to use me for his will and he did!I have been a leader for many years in the Public School system.I am an Elected School Board Member for a City and a County.I feel Christians need to get out there and take a stand for our God.If we don't who will?Thank you for what you do to help people like me.May God keep Blessing You!!!!

    • Holly.
      Wow. I'm honored and humbled by your comment. I am grateful to hear that God is using you in your city and county to effect change for the education of our kids. That is a big responsibility and it sounds like you take it very seriously. Way to go. I hope that God continues to bless you and use you for His Kingdom in the days ahead.

      • when we went to Leffingwell Christian together,( Holly Reed) I Always thought you would be a great man of God one day.I was right! Keep up the good work! God and I are very proud of you! Is There any way I can get your info on my reg.email site so I can read them and pass them on to others? ECKESCA@AOL.COM Thanks!!! 🙂

  2. Holly:
    If you click on the envelope icon at the top of the page, it will take you to a quick form where you can type in your email address. Then, whenever I post here, you'll receive it in your email account. Thanks for your encouraging words and for reading. It makes it worthwhile!