Can I Be A Leader From The Sidelines?

Hey Josh! I’ve enjoyed getting all of your helpful advice and messages in my e-mail inbox every day– sometimes I feel like they’re written about exactly what’s going in my life at the time.

Thanks, Kelly – I always like to hear testimonials from students that I’ve helped.  Makes a guy feel good, ya know?
My dilemma is something that happened to me recently. Several months ago, at the start of my freshman year, I started a writing club at my school and became the president. Fast-forward to now, and we just did the elections for the upcoming here. I was not voted into any kind of officer role at all, while my VP became the new president. What bothers me is that I don’t feel as bad about it as I should. In fact…I feel kind of relieved. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m what I call an “ideaist”: I can come up with a lot of ideas and get really excited about things, and have this amazing vision…but I don’t want to deal with all the messy details of following through and making sure they happen. I’d rather delegate to other people and let them make it happen. Delegation IS an important part of being a leader…trouble is, I think I was rapidly changing from “delegating” to “not caring enough/coming up with excuses to do all the things required of a president”. Great leader, huh?

Meh – I wouldn’t knock your leadership skills.  You started a club from scratch, ran it for awhile, decide to delegate duties (as you said – good leaders must delegate), then got tired of the day to day grind.  It happens.  It doesn’t mean you’re not a good leader, it just means you got tired of this particular venture.

Problem is, I get completely stressed out when I try to start giving up all my time to being a club leader in addition to classes and- of course- writing. I developed the club in the first place so a resource could be provided for writers like me, but I find instead that it saps up the time I use for writing (I’m sure an experienced leader could have warned me about that). I find I’m much happier when I’m being delegated to in the club and can write as well as be a cog in the wheel, so to speak. Many of the items on “Signs of Immature Leaders” lists fit me to a tee.

So, my question is, is this an instrinsic thing? Am I immature because of my age? Did I jump into things too fast and try to do too much at once as a freshman, or am I a total slacker for wanting to be the person behind the scenes instead of up in front of anyone, stressing out about all the things I have to do to maintain the club when I’d rather just get to know people and work with them one on one? I want to be a teacher and mentor someday, so essentially am I still a normal young padawan learning how to be a Jedi and a good leader through experiences and mistakes like this, or is this kind of passiveness and immaturity– separate from my classes and writing, which I tackle whole-heartedly and actively– something that’s going to follow me throughout the rest of my life, and how should I deal with it without stressing myself into the same situation all over again?
Thanks (and sorry for such a long message),

I think you’re being a bit too hard on yourself, Kelly.  You want to focus your time on your classes and writing, and not on running a writing club.  Sounds like your priorities are in order.

Also, as you said, you’re young.  Not in terms of years alive (although that sounds like it is the case too), but young in terms of life experience, leadership experience, etc.  It’s rare that a person is a natural born great leader.  You can have those tendencies – and it sounds like you likely do – but just like anything else, it’s a work in progress.  Remember, you have to be at least 35 years old to run for President of the United States, and the youngest one we ever elected was 43.  That’s not by accident.

You may be a bit wet behind the ears, but do you think someone who does not have the potential to be a good leader would spend time worrying on whether she was a good leader or not?  No, she wouldn’t.  The mere fact that you are thinking about your leadership skills is a good sign that you do have the potential to be a good leader.  You care, and that’s important.

Keep at it, Kelly!  You sound like you’re off to a good start.

What does everyone else think?  Am I on track, or way off base with Kelly here?

1 thought on “Can I Be A Leader From The Sidelines?”

  1. great work kelly. your leadership skills simply needs a work out-i mean working on them in order to have them sharpened. everyone sure gets tired of leading at some point but that resilience to forge ahead is built over time. so keep doing what you love, lead in style and you surely turn out better with time.

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