Learning to lead


Before I left on my internship , I didn’t understand what kind of leadership style I had. I wouldnt have considered myself a leader going into this experience so I did not have a concept of what a leadership style for me would look like. Though I still don’t know exactly what kind of leader I would be in a true leadership position, I have a better idea of how I work with people and the kind of leader I would be.

Prior to this internship I had not had many experiences as a leader. I had been on many teams in a work environment but never really took charge of those teams. I was used to sitting back doing the work I needed to do and leaving the control to someone else. When I was in a situation where I was confident enough in my skills to lead, I found that there was still someone else in charge. That was a scenario I had found very frustrating as I felt that I could have done the job better. I tried to lead in all the ways I could from my position but still wonder what that team could have looked like with me at the helm. Looking back on that in hindsight though, I realize that I hadn’t been looking at that team in an effective way. I was right to lead as much as I could but I believe now that me fighting for a position that wasn’t rightfully mine was a mistake. I should have been able to accept my position and do the best from there.

Going into this internship I had no expectation of leading anyone. As an intern my plan was to be at the bottom and learn as much as I could from those more experienced above me. Though I have had a lot of opportunity to learn I have had a surprising amount of opportunities to be a leader. I have observed two different kinds of leadership styles in my time here. One of my supervisors is about as hands off as one can be. They leave the team to their own devices to complete the task and I found that this left the team confused. This allowed me to step up and try to direct us as best as I could. Unfortunately, with all my good intentions I once again found myself falling short. I would get frustrated when someone didn’t see it my way and I know that that is no way for a leader to work. The other leadership style I encountered was more clear. This supervisor gave clear directions and showed how a job should be done and then left me to do my task. Observing this I realized that this is the kind of leader I would want to be.

Luckily I have actually been given the opportunity to put this new potential leadership style into practice. There have been interns arriving after me and I have had the opportunity to train them in what I have learned. The first intern I trained I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I needed to do to teach them so I ended up rambling and unfortunately not doing a very good job. I was not clear on what things needed to be done and how to do them. Luckily I have been given the chance to learn from that opportunity as well and the next intern I trained I did much better on. I was clear on what needed to be done and how to do it and learned that whereas before I was doing a poor job explaining and spent more time showing, that I should instead explain more and let them do their work. I was not hands off but I talked them through the process of the tasks they had to do rather than doing it myself. This led to them picking it up much faster and doing a far better job.

Though I had not expected to learn leadership, let alone experience it, I have been lucky enough to learn about these skills. The process I have worked through has been very enlightening. From being the kind of leader who tries to hard to be in control, to the kind of leader who is constructive and helps my colleagues to learn and do their tasks, I feel like I have had a lot of growth. Though I am by no means a perfect leader or even a good one yet I believe that there is a chance that with more time I could become a good leader and that is not something I thought I would have the chance to say.

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