I have always been interested in leadership. As a young kid I studied the way the playground was divided, I loved sitting in airports and wondering why and how it all worked, I consistently sat in the back of classes so I could observe the dynamics before I jumped in, and even in my own family, I started to learn how we organized ourselves according to whatever events were happening around us. My first formal experience with leadership began immediately upon graduation from the University of Denver. I moved to a small, remote village in South Africa and worked as a program manager for a non-profit organization. Despite my role as a new-comer, I realized everyone was looking to me for guidance. I began to pay close attention to my own journey, and how I could be as successful as I could in my role.
As my life took me down different paths, I paid attention to when I was asked to step up as a leader. I noticed when it came naturally, and the twist in turns that developed me into the person, and leader, I am today. From my first professional leadership role in South Africa until now, there are two themes that I always go back to when reflecting about leadership. First, I believe listening and learning while bringing a genuine curiosity to a team or a professional challenge is the best platform from which to launch a new team. Second, I believe that collaboration and highlighting team-members’ natural strengths create the strongest, most effective team because it fosters trust amongst team members and encourages them to take responsibility for their individual roles.
Most recently, I had the pleasure of spending my first few days with The Quad, observing our student teams during the last few weeks of the spring semester. I sat in the back of the room curiously studying the groups. I noticed the division of labor, team communication between members and amongst teams, and how the faculty advisor and Quad staff interacted with each team. Those first moments were so exciting for me! Learning how to be a good leader never stops. I encourage myself and the students we work with to be curious, ask questions and communicate one’s strengths. The Quad provides an important and unique space for students and the community to grow and work together. In partnership, we can all stretch and flex our leadership muscles, learning from each other and growing as a cohesive team.