Why you should empower yourself to be a leader

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Graphic courtesy of Kaylynn Chang (‘23).

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth Blanchard.

As the final conference came to a close, I shut my laptop off with a newfound sense of empowerment. The culmination of the NCGS Empowering Female Voices: President’s First 100 Days Conference ended with a group-wide meeting of members from all grades of the VWS community along with other schools across the country to present in front of real government officials. As all groups shared out, I could truly feel the efforts of everyone making that first step towards change. 

Additionally, the conference emphasized leadership in more than one way, but not everyone had a chance to participate. Despite not being able to participate, all students can still pursue Webb’s leadership positions, which have opened up plenty of opportunities to lead in ways unique to our situation. Students from every grade are welcome to participate in getting a chance to try out for a leadership role and really explore what it means to serve the community. 

Leadership is an integral part at Webb, weaving itself into the school’s quadripartite mission statement; throughout the years, students at Webb were able to incorporate themselves into leadership positions and learn what it is like to give back to the community through their actions. With the majority of the 2020-2021 year online, leadership has still thrived at Webb, as leaders worked together to assemble fun events, help welcome new students, and cultivate the Webb experience even off campus. 

This year, leadership positions are still open, and many have applied in with different goals and motives in mind.  

I chose [to apply for] PA [because] I want to assist the student body, especially the new students, and make them feel welcomed into our community, Cindy Nie (‘23) said. 

Leadership requires distinct traits, and the position of PA emphasizes the trait of creating relationships and cultivating a space where others feel comfortable because of your efforts. 

“Student Government has always been for the community, and what we do is only to improve the student body,” said, Jaqob Sharifi (‘21), all-school president of WSC. 

In addition, some members of the current VWS Honor Cabinet have spoken out about on the importance of connection with the student body as well.  

In my opinion, the VWS Honor Cabinet is an important leadership role, because HC members strive to offer mentorship and guidance for students,” said Caroline Metz, member of the VWS Honor Cabinet.We want to help students learn and grow during their time at Webb.”  

“Ultimately, I think the most important attributes of good leadership are the leaders’ ability to connect with and represent those they lead,” said, Elena Tiedens (‘21), co-Chair of the Honor Cabinet. 

The Honor Cabinet played a big part in setting up this year’s Honor Symposium, an event that gave everyone an opportunity to connect with each other through the messages of what honor means and looks like to the Webb community. 

Overall, events like these bring a new way for all members of the Webb community to interact. 

“The HC represents students and the student perspective in the disciplinary process, and it also tries to connect with students through various events like the Honor Symposium, hopefully [emphasizing] these important qualities,” said Elena. 

Granted, there were some challenges during this year given the whole online-learning affair.  

“Personally, I feel like I could have been a better leader by pushing through slumps, communicating better, and in general putting more energy towards student/community engagement,” said, Abbie Oh-Arroyo (‘21), all-school president of VWS. 

“For us, the greatest challenge was getting the community to engage with us over Zoom because, after a whole day of sitting in Zoom classes, no one really wanted to do something on Zoom that wasn’t mandatory. Engagement, in general, was a struggle this year,” said, Jonathan Maschler (‘21), Head Peer Advisor. 

However, acknowledging the challenges are what makes for a great leader and growing from them creates the ultimate leadership experience.  

“COVID has made us step up our game and really come together to try and overcome obstacles through creativity,” Abbie said. “Leaders supporting other leaders by coming to events means so much because we all know how much time and energy these things take. I learned how to let go of traditions and think out of the box.” 

The executive body were also able to help arrange many great events such as Gaul Town and fun games during the weekend, constantly finding creative ways for the community to be engaged and trying hard to make it happen. Events such as Open Library hosted by the Peer Advisors also provide a space to help students with their work or a place to hang out, just like Fawcett Library once did. 

Becoming a leader not only means benefiting the community, but also finding about more about yourself. Leadership can allow for growth to result from the situations you are put in, and it helps to challenge your limits as well. 

“As an executive you are exposed to more experiences that only allow you to grow as a person. As head executive this year I couldn’t be prouder of our school pushing through the difficult times,” Jaqob said.  

Leadership is a mutually beneficial journey for both yourself and your community. Being a leader not only entails helping others and being responsible for leading them, but it also allows for self-development to happen. In turn, you are also gaining experience from your responsibilities. To become a better leader, you must assess yourself and grow from your environments while aiding others. 

While leadership in the midst of a pandemic presents significant challenges, there are still ways to create opportunities for leadership. Even if you do not apply for a leadership position, or if you do not get the position you want, opportunities to be a leader in class are always open.  

Leadership is not only a title, nor is it limited to one type of person; it is simply a way of being.  

Your actions have immense effect on others, so something as simple as tidying up a class or making sure everybody is included in a discussion are the jobs of a leader. We have to stop thinking leadership as something limited to a position. In reality, there are many different opportunities that are just not as obvious as some.