If a student leader starts out well, it increases his or her chances of having a great year. There’s a lot to learn as we go along, but preparation on the front end will pay off big during the harder parts of the year.
This is the first in a series of posts called, Just Starting Out! 7 Priorities For New Student Leaders.
In this series, I want to focus on seven important actions a new student leader needs to take to start well. I’ve seen a lot of student leaders struggle right out of the gate because they didn’t take the time to establish themselves and make these priorities…a priority. At the beginning, they often wonder what types of things they should be working on. They know the tasks that go along with the position, but they want to know what actions go into becoming a leader. This series will offer seven ways to answer those types of questions.
The first priority is to learn your position.
It seems obvious doesn’t it?
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard comments throughout the year that were all different versions of this: “I didn’t know that was my job.”
Right here, right now, at the start of an exciting opportunity, let’s take some time to get to know what your position is. Here’s some ways I encourage you to do that:
1. Read the job description. The job description will contain the most basic expectations of your position. You will go on to add your own personality and giftedness. You wouldn’t believe the number of students who put their name in the hat for a position that they don’t really know much about.
2. Talk to the student who currently holds the position. This person can tell you what a job description can’t. You can learn about the position from this person’s experience. One of the best questions you can ask this person is, What do you know now that you wish you knew just starting out?
3. Meet with the advisor to the position. One of the benefits of most student leadership positions is there is an advisor who oversees it. Talk to this person about the position as quickly as you can. Find out if there’s other expectations that aren’t listed on the job description. Find out how the advisor views the position.
4. Find out the people this position will interact with. If you’re goal is to be an effective student leader, then you’ll need to build relationships. Learn names.
5. Learn the systems. Learn how money is processed in your organization. Know the chain of command. Find out who you need to go to when you face difficulties. Familiarize yourself with any paperwork that’s required of you.
In the end, I would encourage you to have a good, working knowledge of your position. You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to know where to look when you have a question.