It’s a weird concept for me to learn how to be a better leader while studying leadership theories. Before taking LDR 200L, I would have thought that the only way I could become a better leader was though experience and action. I shouldn’t have to sit in a classroom and listen to classmates do a presentation about a theory that there were assigned. The only thing I’d pay attention to would be the gifs in their slideshows. How would I learn anything valuable from that? But, as I participated in my TA’s theory workshop about skills and traits, my feeling towards this new concept shifted.
It may have had to do with the fact that my TAs are fantastic people or that they really know how to capture my attention, but I found myself intrigued by their theory and even able to apply it to my life.
The Trait Approach and Skill Approach theories are opposites of each other that describe where/ how leaders originate. The Trait Approach claims that leaders are born not made whereas the Skill Approach claims leaders are made not born. Based on the experiences I’ve had this past year as a part of LAS, the Leadership Institute, and other organizations, neither one of these theory approaches are entirely true. Rather, an effective leader is bits and pieces of each approach.
To apply this theory to myself as a leader is quite simple. Because I have learned so much about myself this year and how I want to lead, I now understand that my skills and my traits both hold great value in my leadership style. One thing I’ve always prided myself in is listening. For some this is a learned skill, something to be practiced and does not come easily, but I thrive in listening. Not only is it a necessity to being a strong leader, but it’s something I love. It is the best way to understand where a person comes from and how you can effectively work with them. However, a skill that I’ve had to learn this year is time management. College is not easy. I had new friends, RSOs, a job, and intense classes that I had to learn how to balance. Having the ability to find time for all of these things strengthened me not just for my college years, but my years to come in the so called “real world”. These are just two of the factors that make me the leader I am, but without the skills and traits I posses, I never would have made it through my first year of college.