5 Steps to Cultivating New Leaders on Campus

As we begin a new semester and potential future leaders have been identified, we would like to share a few tips that will help with your next steps. These tips are provided by engagement and SGA Specialists Mike Fritz and Dave Kelly. They work with colleges across the country training current and future leaders. Their programs like SGAU and the DNA of Leadership are perfect additions to your next student leader training. Here are some steps they suggest when cultivating new leaders:

(1) Assessment

After identifying potential new leaders, the next step is to help the new leaders assess where they are as a leader and what is their greatest area of opportunity – or as we like to call it “GAO”! We call it this because it inspires change and possibilities rather than saying “weakness” which focuses. The leaders on deficiencies. We want them to see what they could be rather than what they aren’t. 

This assessment can happen in many different capacities – but it first starts in developing a culture that expects personal development. When you want someone to join your leadership team one of the greatest things you want to convey is that signing up for your team is to sign up for a journey of growth and development so that we are more equipped to change people’s lives.

But this isn’t just GOA’s – it’s also areas of strengths. You want to help them identify their strengths so that you know where they will best fit the team

(2) Alignment

After you have assessed their abilities and GOA’s then you want to find a place that will best leverage and align with those gifts. For example – you don’t want someone that isn’t good with detail organizing your event; or something that needs loads of work in public speaking to be introducing your speaker. You want align your leaders with their gift set!

This is not just so that your team is effective – but this has a LOT to do with retention. People will rarely stay in a role that they aren’t built for. If they aren’t doing activities that make them feel successful, they will leave their position much more quickly. 

(3) Adjustment

After you align new leaders in their roles based on their giftedness then you want to start adjusting. This is to identify their newly surfaces GOA’s. You see these come up twice. First, as you’re doing initial assessment then after you start running events, meetings and leading people – that’s when the real GOA’s come out.

After you have identified the new list of leaders, you can align and put together a growth plan to help them grow inter leadership skills. Secondly, after you have had opportunities to see your leaders in action, you can develop a more articulated growth plan for each leader. The reason that leaders are so hard to find – is because people are not in environments like this very often. Imagine always being in an environment that was built to help you grow; and you were implementing a strategy to grow week after week! Where would you be in 6, 12 or 18 months?

This is what real leadership development is!

(4) Affirmation

As new leaders are implementing their development plan you want to encourage and affirm as much as possible. This is both practical and psychological. The practical reason is people loved to be affirmed when they are working hard and it makes them want to work harder.

The psychological reason is we want to affirm is we want to create a nueroxassociation to growing as a leader. You might be asking – what in the world is that?

A nueroxassociation is the emotions and reactions your brain attaches to different activities. It’s the reason we tell our kids “good job” and also put them in “time out”. We are seeking to help them association good things to doing the right thing and bad things to doing the wrong thing. We want our leaders to always associate great emotion and success to growing and developing as a leader.

(5) Ascension

As they are growing you always want to be looking for places you can ascend your leader toward. If they are a secretary, may you look to make the VP or if they are VP maybe they are ready for the president roll. Or maybe they are a member of the organization, but are ready to take on a role in the leadership.

You want to always be ascending leaders to the next level – this in and of itself is leadership development!

Great Student Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Made

The DNA of Student Leadership



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