Leadership skills you need to advance your career

5 Leadership Lessons They Should Teach You in College

The next few weeks are huge move-in weeks for colleges all over America.  With so many of my friends talking about sending their kids off to college for their first year or back to college for their sixth, it seemed fitting to share some ideas and advice that go beyond the standard “be safe, study hard and please don’t get arrested!” conversations.

Inspire others

Good leadership begins with the ability to inspire and motivate others. College is a big transition period for most people and everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time.  Take time to notice the little things and use everyday moments to inspire and energize your friends and classmates.  It’s a good habit to get into and a great leadership skill to perfect.

Be fearless

College is all about learning and pushing the boundaries so you can see just how far you can go. (I’m not talking about how many shots you can take and still stand up; although that is definitely part of the learning process).  This is not your time to play it safe.  Try new things, succeed and fail, fall in and out of love with subject matter and always do one thing that scares you every day.

Challenge authority

You have been told (more or less) to follow the status quo. To dress, act and think like the masses so you will fit in and survive high school; not to challenge authority, do as you’re told and don’t break the rules.  Your college professors, advisors and deans have a wealth of knowledge that you will learn so much from, but they’re not perfect and we all have biases.  This is your time to think for yourself, come to your own conclusions, do your own research and learn how to respectfully and successfully challenge the status quo. With so few people who are willing to do this, mastering this skill will set you up for success no matter what your future holds.

Build your network

You’ll hear people say that college is going to be the best time of your life.  I certainly hope NOT! If everything after college is a gradual downhill slide, that’s a pretty sad proposition.  You are at the beginning of something amazing, some of the deepest, most meaningful friendships and relationships are formed in college. Broaden your network, diversify your friends, and find new interests to share with people very different from you.  You’ll learn a lot and set up a powerful network as you venture out after graduation.

Learn how to collaborate

Everyone knows that group projects can be difficult.  Guess what? All the things that make group projects challenging in college are the very same things that make work life challenging after you graduate.  Very few professions have one person doing absolutely everything from start to finish.  Be sure to practice leading through influence, anticipating problems and communicating effectively. It won’t only result in better grades; it will help avoid unnecessary frustration when you land your first job.

What will your college aged kids remember?

This is the first year I won’t be sending my daughter off to college.  She’s off the payroll and on this wonderful and terrifying adventure called adulting.   I’d like to think these five leadership skills are deeply engrained in who she has become during her time in school and I’m so excited to see what comes next – not just for my daughter, but for our next generation of leaders and innovators.