In the Spring of most academic years, we elect and select our student leaders for the next year. We run campaigns, hold elections, and celebrate with those who won and encourage those who didn’t. We start to dream and plan for the next year.
Then summer happens.
Summer is a giant hole in the student leadership year. It’s like a big pause button.
Congratulations…you’re in. You get to lead. Now hold that thought for the next three months…
I know that most students see the summer as a chance to take a break from learning. Unfortunately, these types of breaks don’t exist in the world you’ll graduate into. Most positions don’t give you the summer off.
I’m writing this post to encourage all of those “soon-to-be” student leaders out there to take advantage of this time away from the rigors of academic life. Use this discretionary time to enhance your leadership capacity.
1. Choose a leadership book to read through and reflect on.
Keep feeding your mind with thoughts and ideas that focus on leadership. Most people get their best leadership inspiration and ideas from leadership books. I recommend you choose one and immerse yourself in it. And I’ll even recommend one to you: The Leadership Challenge by Kousez and Posner.
2. Practice leading over the summer.
The best way to learn to lead is to actually lead something. Whatever environment you’re in – summer job, summer school, summer vacation, etc – is an opportunity for you to develop your influence. Even if you’re not in a leadership position, there are ways to demonstrate leadership from right where you are. Need some ideas, read this post: When Will The Leader Emerge?
3. Don’t wait until August to start planning for your year.
There are things you can start thinking about and doing right now to give yourself a running start in the Fall. Take a look at my ebook, Just Starting Out. It will give you seven different priorities leaders focus on right at the start. Take each one and begin to put your plan in place. Keep in touch with your team over the summer so that they’re on the same page as you are when you get back together in a few months.
4. Relax, recharge, get healthy.
You want to be at your best when you head back to school. Take the time you need to restore your energy. Stay physically fit. Get good sleep. Develop some healthy habits. Feel free to be lazy for a couple of weeks. Don’t be lazy for three months. Look for ways you can lead yourself well over the summer.
The summer may also be a good time to review some of the posts and articles on the site here. Go back through the archives.