By Camden Ege, Assistant Coordinator of USM’s Veterans Services
Stepping foot on a college campus provides a variety of leadership opportunities for anyone. There are many different clubs and organizations, work-study positions and moments to shine. But leadership is also an ability that requires practice, and for many students this is their first opportunity. However, USM is home to over three hundred Student Veterans who have already practiced leadership in a wide array of scenarios. Here are some tips that we all can learn from our student veterans:
Lead by example
The first thing that comes to mind are some of the worst leaders I’ve ever had. A couple of Majors from the military come to mind that I’d like to share some thoughts on how to lead. These are people that sit in their office and tell everyone how to do their job, when they have no understanding. However, Major McMahon, one of my past commanders, comes to mind as a shining example of a successful leader and who had a profound impact on my life. He was a real “boots-on-the-ground” type of leader who was accessible by all. He would never ask someone to do something he wouldn’t do himself.
Everyone in the military has been screamed at and done more push-ups than imaginable because they did something wrong, or were affiliated with someone who did something wrong. Having someone correct you isn’t a negative thing; it’s an amazing opportunity for growth. That feedback can be tough to hear, but it’s also tough to give.
Be on time
The military drills into its members the importance of punctuality. The idea of arriving early to a scheduled meeting is crucial. This is also extremely helpful for preparing what is to come and giving yourself time to gather your thoughts and materials. If you can’t make it early every time that’s okay, just don’t be late! It is as important to value someone else’s time as it is to respect your own commitments.
Work hard, but know your limits
This may seem like common sense, but it’s more important in a leadership role. Hard work is infectious and can motivate the right team to excel. The other side of this coin is making sure that you take care of yourself. I’ve led a student group at USM and understand that participation can be challenging. However, you’ll become a lot less effective if you burn yourself out.
In summary, the only thing possibly holding yourself down could be yourself. There’s a good chance the only difference between you and the leader of a group is that they volunteered. Be the type of leader you want to be remembered as!