At the culmination of each semester’s Emerge Leadership Circle, students share their personal leadership philosophies. These philosophies are the culmination of a semester’s learning and reflection, and each is as unique as the participant themselves.
Class of 2025
“Leadership is the acknowledgement of success and failure. It involves constant introspection and self assessment. As a leader, I will make many mistakes. There will be times I fail, sometimes so painfully I will be embarrassed. However, I need these failures in order to succeed. The building blocks of success are made of experiences while at the bottom. In this regard, leadership is similar to driving a car. To become a successful leader, there is always a starting point. The beginning of the journey, where I am inept and naïve, is the perfect time for making mistakes and learning how to become a better leader. I learn and grow while I have people beside me. When I am ready, I begin the next steps of the journey by myself. I navigate the challenges and complexities of the real world, growing into a competent leader who is less and less likely to steer others off the road and into disaster. The final step is to be consistent with challenging my ideas and beliefs. This will be the part where I take all of the criticism and mistakes from the past and use them to constantly move forward. I will always strive for success and push through failure. I will never accept total defeat, or total victory. I will only accept growth.”
Class of 2025
“Leadership can be a million different things to a million different people. My mission as a leader is to be an effective communicator. When it comes down to it, good communication is the basis for good leadership. But leadership isn’t just that. To me, leadership is about having compassion and striving to understand the people around you to work the best way possible. Being a good leader isn’t about having all the answers or being right all the time. It is okay not to be perfect. Part of being a strong leader is learning from and holding yourself accountable to your mistakes. It’s about knowing yourself and knowing how to best work with others towards a common goal. It’s unrealistic to expect that leaders should be cold and emotionless. Emotions make us human. Being able to understand and recognize your feelings as well as being able to empathize and show compassion to others is invaluable in leadership. Above all else, seeking fairness and equity is the most important part of being a leader. Leadership comes with responsibility, and there is a certain amount of power that people in charge get. Keeping yourself in check and accepting criticism from others is essential.”
Class of 2023
“Leadership means many different things to many different people. Most often people think a leader should be fearless, confident, strong, wise, generous, caring, etc. While these might indeed be characteristics of great leaders, not all leaders have all or even any of these attributes, and certainly not at all times. Leaders sometimes come and go from one moment to the next. All of us have been scared at times and have felt like imposters, whereas other times we’ve easily come into our own and taken command of situations.
At times like these we exemplify our strongest leadership attributes, whether we can identify them or not. Our most important values and beliefs can show through in our actions for all to see. In my leadership moments I want people to see that I value hard work and honesty by seeing it come from me first. I want people to know that I am optimistic about the future, no matter the situation. I want people to know that like all of us, I am still learning and want to learn from the opinions and experiences of others. In my leadership roles I don’t cut corners, I like to do things the proper way the first time because I believe hard work always pays off. I also try my hardest to uphold fairness with the people that I lead by being an active listener and keeping an objective mindset about their opinions.
There is no right way to lead. It is something you must figure out for yourself by finding your strengths, drawing your lines, and staying true to your beliefs. By doing this, without even realizing it, you will become exactly the leader that you want yourself to be. So be a leader for yourself, the kind you want to see in the world.”
Class of 2025
“My version of a great leader is someone who thrives in the greater good of others. A person who is not afraid to put others’ needs before their own. Someone who strives to value each and every thought, opinion, quality, cultural background, and role of those on their team and of those who they are representing. A great leader becomes a role model to those around them, making others feel like they can confidently confide their trust in them to do everything they can to reach a set goal or decision that will be the most beneficial to everyone as a whole.
My version of a great leader is someone who sets obtainable goals and strives to achieve them. A person who knows their strengths and weaknesses and uses them to their advantage. Someone who is determined, responsible, confident, and can be independent if needed. A great leader is able to determine their version of the best way to overcome a task, while ensuring fairness and equal representation among others in a group or team.
My version of a great leader is someone who understands that teamwork can be their greatest asset. A person who realizes the worth and value of every member of their team and is able to acknowledge their roles wholeheartedly. Someone who achieves greatness through listening to and conversing with others. A great leader does not let personal bias within a group get in the way of their leadership and ideals.
My version of a great leader is someone who is able to promote acceptance and ideal values in others. A person who preaches kindness and diversity within a team, group, or population. Someone who is not afraid to speak up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves. A great leader is someone who stands up to the face of adversity and courageously advocates for the morals, values, interests, and assets of themselves and those around them.
My version of a great leader is someone who is passionate about people and actively guides themselves and others to greatness.”
Class of 2024
“One summer I was a track and field coach to a group of first graders. I was a leader and a role model to them as they looked up to me to coach them through our weekly activities. I noticed that one of the girls on my team was constantly in the back of the group and too afraid to participate in our games or talk to any of the other kids. I decided to speak to her one-on-one and I told her that she did not have to worry about being the best on the team or messing up; we were only there to have fun. I asked her if she would join us in at least one team game and she finally agreed. During that game she had the biggest smile on her face, and from then on she began participating in every activity. She had the best time with her new friends and all she needed was a push from her leader to be successful. I’m so glad that I was able to help her and I hope she carries that advice with her forever. It’s a leader’s job to ensure that everyone on their team has the resources they need, and to be the person they can depend on for anything along the way.
As a leader I think it’s important to routinely check in with the people you are working with to make sure they are on the right track, and to provide any guidance or support. For the people who are too scared to reach out for help, a one-on-one check in may be that push they need to keep going. As a leader I want to be someone that people can depend on and not be afraid to go to with any questions. I understand how difficult it can be to reach out for help, but it’s necessary to be successful. The success of a leader is based on the success of their team, not themselves.”
Class of 2025
“I’m speaking with you today
before the start of may.
Today will be your day
to be a leader.
Follow my philosophy,
and you will be met with no animosity.
For those who respect and trust you
will see you anew.
Have some fun.
Harbor curiosity and don’t be too serious,
enjoy the experience.
Act as you ask others to do.
Never put overs in situations
that you won’t welcome for yourself without hesitation.
Have some humility.
Don’t put yourself above others.
Be modest and honest
and others will follow as promised.
Open the door
figuratively and literally.
You’re the guide
by their sides.
All for one,
This counsel helps a ton.
Stay present, live.
This is my last stanza,
the end of my extravaganza.
Don’t forget to never give up the leadership fight,
I’ll be here all night!”
Class of 2023
“How do you become a leader? Well, to me a leader is someone who gives you a helping hand, helps you grow, works together, and problem solves.
A leader that gives a helping hand is someone that helps you when you need help or when you’re struggling. Giving a helping hand can be the difference between a good leader and a great leader.
A leader that helps you grow is someone that pushes you that extra mile to get to where you need to go. This allows people to become more confident in what they’re doing.
A leader that works with you instead of bossing you around is ideal. People don’t want to be bossed around. This irritates people which causes them to not give 100% into what they’re doing.
A leader that problem solved is someone who can take a quick break in what they’re doing to calm the people down around them and get to the root of the problem. This allows the leader to solve the problem faster.
All these attributes are what I see in my mom. She is my inspiration to become a great leader. Everyday she stops what she’s doing to help those around her even if she has something important to do. She gives me the confidence to be my true self which guides me to living a better life. She is all these attributes and way more. If I become half the leader that she is I would consider myself very lucky!”
Class of 2024
“To me being a successful leader means being a great team member. An amazing team member actively listens, thoroughly communicates, is receptive to disagreement, is not afraid to make mistakes, and bravely shares creative propositions even if they aren’t 100% confident. Being a leader doesn’t mean always having the title of “leader”, it’s the ability to shine within a group by possessing these qualities I have mentioned. Anyone can become a leader in any sort of setting, big or small. So many of us do not realize that the way we act within our everyday lives as college students, employees, our parents’ children, and friends qualify us as leaders. Being the first to raise your hand in class makes you a leader because you courageously tried to answer a question in your team of classmates. Within even the smallest friend group sharing your thoughts despite the possibility of being wrong is you stepping up as a leader. Small actions like this are not always noticed but they are just as important as being the traditional group leader at work or president of your class.
Before participating in Emerge I thought I was not qualified enough to be a member of this group because I lacked the cliché leadership titles. But, I learned through this course that I am a true leader due to my daily actions and my ability to be a successful team member. As a team member I value the others in my group who are leaders as well. I find strength and confidence from my teammates taking on all sorts of roles and positions on their own without even needing to be asked. The ability to step into the position of being an incredible teammate is equally as impressive as being assigned “leader”. To me being a leader is synonymous with being an active team member.”