Recognizing student leadership on campus and beyond

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 11/13/17 12:09am

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Throughout the month of November, the Office of Student Life is accepting nominations for the annual "I Am Grand Valley" leadership recognition program. The goal of this campaign is to honor a wide range of students at Grand Valley State University who display exceptional leadership skills.

Initiatives like the I Am Grand Valley campaign make it clear that leadership and teamwork abilities are valued at GVSU. While there is a time and place for individuals who thrive at working independently, most graduating students entering the workforce will need to be equipped to spend a significant portion of their time working with teams and in focus groups to brainstorm ideas and crank out complex projects. 

The ability to collaborate with coworkers and lead team members is important precisely because so many projects simply cannot be completed by one person: They require the insight of multiple individuals who can alternately praise and challenge each other's ideas. Being able to recognize someone else's potential and bring out the best in their work is an important leadership skill that students develop in team settings and one that invariably proves useful post-college. 

Developing leadership skills in college is incredibly important because, at some point or another, every student will find themselves in a position of authority where they will need to lead others. There are plenty of opportunities for students to cultivate their leadership skills at GVSU, whether through participation in a student organization or in the classroom, or through work as a resident assistant or student employee. Finding a niche to develop their leadership abilities helps students build a sense of confidence and sharpen their problem-solving and communication skills.  

What many college students may not even realize is that you don't have to be a boss to be a leader. In fact, you don't even need to hold a specific title to be a leader, as the label often does not refer to a position so much as a mentality. The opposite also holds true: There are plenty of people in the world who hold positions of authority who have no real leadership ability at all. The bottom line is that no matter their title, every GVSU student will find themselves in a leadership position at some point or another, so developing those skills now is crucial.

GVSU understands the importance and relevance of cultivating tomorrow's leaders. That's why campaigns like I Am Grand Valley exist and why just about every class at the university requires at least one group project (which, although the bane of most students' existence, is still a valuable experience precisely because of the transferable skills students develop as a result). 

Having the opportunity to nominate their peers for the I Am Grand Valley campaign, students at GVSU are able to recognize and celebrate positive leadership. Students who are nominated are given the chance to reflect on what they have been doing right and where, and then build off of that. Having that type of feedback from different GVSU community members serves as an advantageous reinforcer for students, encouraging them to carry forward their leadership skills beyond campus. 

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