Wow this is amazing! Spain, traveling, new experiences, meeting new people! This is something else! Being abroad has changed my view on so many aspects of life, one of which is leadership and what it means to be a leader.
Ever since I was a young kid I had an innate ability to win people over and eventually lead them. I don’t know where or who it came from but my time in highschool and early college has reflected my leadership skills. Freshman year I was selected by the teachers and administration in the school to participate in a leadership retreat. In Junior year I was again selected to not only participate in the leadership retreat but be the instructor for the younger guys. Senior year I was elected by my peers and coaches to be the captain of the swim team. Freshman year I completed the strengthsfinder questionnaire in BUS110 and I saw that leadership was my second strength behind Winning others over (WOO). Sophomore year I was elected by my fraternity to be the recruitment chair. Through all the previous experiences I have seen my leadership experience broaden and improve with each opportunity.
My leadership style is a unique one, I never practiced how to be a leader, people just saw a natural ability in me. I believe what makes me such an effective leader is treating people with respect and being honest with others. I always try to make good relations with people before I get to know them, first impressions are the most important. A friendly face goes a long way when you are making a connection for the first time. I allow people to open up themselves to me and trust me on a personal level. I do not do this to have leverage on them, but rather make them feel comfortable being around me. Once people trust you, they are able to look up to you for advice, direction, and as a leader in general.
Leading for me comes with ease, but there is a huge reason for that: being comfortable. I am extremely comfortable in my own skin and my environment. School and home are the two places I spend most of my time, therefore, I am most comfortable in those environments. When I am in a place that I am not too familiar with, my leading abilities become impaired. I will always be comfortable in my skin, but the environment is hard to get used to. For instance, here in Spain they obviously speak a different language with different slang. Not being able to speak SPanish fluently really hinders my ability to lead. I am able to communicate on a higher level than most, but I am not comfortable enough to ask people about the nitty gritty details of their life or ask them to open themselves up to me. I am still able to put on a friendly face but I am not able to communicate the way I am able to in The United States. In Spain, I need to adapt and expand my comfort zone.
Becoming a leader abroad is difficult if you cannot communicate with everyone perfectly. In my opinion, every instance of discomfort you have is another situation you are able to then feel comfortable in. I have learned here it is essential to make the person comfortable speaking to me, I must tell them about myself and what I am doing here in their country. Once I make them feel comfortable and have them going I use the little slang I know to begin to win them over. I have never had to really be a leader outside the workplace but in the workplace I command the respect of my superiors.
The experiences I have been through here in Spain will certainly benefit me in the long run. Like I stated earlier, each uncomfortable instance I have, just expands my comfort zone by that much more. I have learned so much and been uncomfortable so many times resulting in a new heightened sense of awareness and comfort. When I head back to the States I will bring my new found comfort and will be a better leader for it. One cannot be a leader and not have confidence and comfort in themselves and their surroundings. I am now comfortable in almost any situation I am thrown into and will be able to lead no matter the circumstances. The experience has broadened my horizons and made me appreciate the different kinds of styles of communication, culture, and interactions in general.