Leadership at all Levels
by Louise Dennis, Tax Intern
Being a leader doesn’t mean running a one-man band. It means having the ability to empower your colleagues to reach their potential, to draw out their talents, to inspire passion for work and to foster innovation in tackling both new and old projects.
A leader is defined as follows in the Oxford dictionary:
[ ˈlēdər ]
noun: leader · plural noun: leaders
the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country
However, should a leader command his or her team?
To me, being a leader doesn’t mean running a one-man band. It means having the ability to empower your colleagues to reach their potential, to draw out their talents, to inspire passion for work and to foster innovation in tackling both new and old projects.
This all sounds great, but how can graduates, interns and co-op students do this when we’re at the bottom of the corporate ladder?
1. You CAN lead as a young person.
Don’t think for a second that as a new graduate, intern or co-op, that you can’t lead. I like to think that I can rally people around me, get my more senior colleagues excited about tasks that they may deal with every day, and foster enthusiasm on my team. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you should delegate tasks to your more junior colleagues, but rather, that you inspire excitement and willingness to do an outstanding job on a particular task.
2. Whatever you do, do it well.
Be it doing presentations, baking cakes, or even scanning up documents, do it with pride and enthusiasm. Make the BEST presentation, bake the BEST cakes and scan up those documents to the BEST of your ability!
3. Know when to step aside.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is to know when to step aside. If a particular task isn’t your forte, then don’t pretend that it is! Know when to allow someone else on your team to demonstrate their strengths, and step aside. This shows strength of character, and you may even be able to pick up some tips from them.
4. You can shine at being a team player.
I recently participated in the Deloitte University Challenge, where spot prizes were given to students who demonstrated their ability to be a team player. Nobody wants a tyrant on their team, so it’s important to show that you can shine at being a team player.
5. Every leader has a leader.
Learn from the Master. Every single one of your colleagues has been in your position, where you feel that you know nothing and feel awkward asking questions. The best way to become a leader is to absorb, process and implement information, so ask senior colleagues as many questions as you can, and don’t fear rejection if someone is too busy to help you - they will come back to you later.
Don’t doubt your own capabilities, even in your position as an intern, co-op, or graduate. Every level needs a leader, so why not let that leader be you? Let your skills shine, be enthusiastic, and most importantly, know your own potential.