One day when thinking about the definition of leadership, I decided to open my laptop and search: “What is the definition of leadership?” As you may have guessed, I scrolled through many different definitions of leadership before finding one that caught my eye: “Leadership is about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It's about equipping others with the right tools and strategies not only to maximize the success of an organization but also the lives of individuals.”

True leadership is selfless and does not focus on the success of the individual in the position, but highlights how the leader is able to influence others. 

Leadership is best developed through experience. To do so, you have to put yourself in situations that force you to test your leadership skills. My freshman year of high school I decided to step out of my comfort zone and run for a student government position. It was a scary move, and the long campaign process created the potential for failure in my life, but despite my fears, I ended up winning the election – and serving in that role all four years of high school.

If you would have asked me my freshman year, I never would have thought I would be speaking at assemblies in front of thousands of people or leading committees of students by the end of my high school experience. I stepped into this leadership role, and many after, not knowing what the outcome would be. By putting myself out there and stepping up, I developed leadership skills I wasn’t aware I had.

Besides the workplace and in school, you can develop leadership skills within your community of family and friends. The definition above defines a leader as someone who helps others be the best version of themselves that they can be. To develop your interpersonal leadership skills, start by actively listening to others around you and getting to know them on a deeper level. Being a leader to your friends starts with intentionality. How are you able to give advice to someone you barely know?

Looking back on my time at George Fox, I realize how many opportunities there are on this small campus to practice leadership skills. My first thought is getting involved in residence life as an RA (Resident Assistant) or an AAC (Assistant Area Coordinator), and working on campus, such as in the library or as an intern in the marketing department. You could start a Bible study, get involved with spiritual life and help with chapels or Life Groups, or even use your knowledge of anatomy to tutor nursing students.

Whatever your gifts are, however you like to serve, there is an opportunity to exercise those gifts on campus. God has made each and every one of us in our own unique way, with gifts tailored to who we are, no person the same. How you lead will look different from how the person next to you chooses to lead, so why try to copy someone else?

Lastly, when looking to develop your leadership skills, it’s wise to find someone you look up to, and understand what it is that makes you view them as a leader. However, the ultimate leader you should study and emulate is Jesus. He is the definition of a selfless leader who always puts others before himself. He was outspoken and practiced what he preached, but did so in a way that was respectful to those around him. If you are leading like Jesus in whatever you are doing, you’re doing it right.

John 13:12-17

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

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