“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

With graduation around the corner, it’s crazy to see so many years go by with a blink of an eye and detach myself from the college environment. It’s a scary, yet exciting thought, and deep down, I know I’ll truly miss college and the opportunities that come with it. One aspect I know I will for sure miss once I leave the college bubble is campus involvement and holding leadership roles. Before giving a preview on today’s post, I just wanted to put this out there that the title is intentional. Since we’re all so familiar with the “taking up the mantle” idiom, I figured I would throw in a twist by titling this post, “hanging up the mantle” which essentially is supposed to represent stepping down as a leader. (Clever, I know!) With that being said, in today’s post, I will be focusing on my experiences of stepping down from leadership roles and what are ways and questions a student can ease the transition of going from super-duper involved on-campus to the “boring, dull” lifestyle in the real-world. Well then, let’s dive in!

Stepping Down from Leadership Positions
From personal experience, I think one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is not the stress that comes with leading nor is it the backlash and criticism you get from people, but rather the moment when you realize it’s time to step down. The moment when you realize that your dreams, goals, and vision as a leader will diminish is unsettling. (Okay, it’s not that extreme, there are successors for a reason!) On the contrary, I think some individuals may feel differently and fathom the relief that comes with stepping down more than anything, which is understandable too.

From my own experience, this was especially relevant in my active membership with Asian Pacific American Association (APAA). I’m sure by now, you perhaps are aware of APAA from my previous blog posts. As an active member and previous board member, I recall there being moments where I wasn’t ready to let go and still wanted to be involved and contribute to the organization as best I could. Eventually, I realized the importance of letting go and restraining myself and ultimately how important it was to simply believe in the new generation of leaders with their ideas and beliefs in regards to taking care the organization. Granted, I was still involved with the organization, it’s just that getting involved looked a lot different. For any leader, really, it’s difficult when you’ve invested so much time and effort into an organization and literally have attached yourself to it whether it be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. An important part of stepping down for me, I’ve realized, is that being a leader doesn’t always have to mean that you’re in the front line leading the charge. It can also mean staying behind and helping others rise to positions of leadership. As part of leaving the college bubble and launching into the real world, I know the best thing I can do as a leader with previous experience is to give back to the next generation of leaders. As my time of leading has come to an end, I’ve realized that part of stepping down is inspiring and guiding others to step up.

The Actual Transition
I think any student who is or has been involved on campus and served in a leadership role knows that time flies by all too fast when having to balance, school, work, and extracurricular activities such as leadership positions. Especially for graduating seniors, this creates more issues as finding a job only creates more chaos. But what happens when a person goes from planning, studying, working, organizing, eating, sleeping, job-hunting, and exercising, to simply just working? I think this is a reality that many students face as the fluid nature of college switches to the routine-based lifestyle of working after graduation.

Honestly, I, myself, have not gotten the chance to let the idea of graduation settle in due to the busy nature of college itself. With having conversations with career counselors and peers, I’ve only had the chance to ponder on it slightly, but the thought of going from busy to boring is quite depressing honestly. As I navigate these last few weeks of college before graduation, it’ll be smart for me to prepare the transition from college to the working world. Granted, I’ll still be doing summer research in the Twin Ports area, but I think preparing mentally and emotionally to slowly transition out of college will be a real challenge. Of course, I don’t have all the answers to ease the transition as I am still in the process of doing so, but I think it’s important for any college student to just be aware and mentally/emotionally prepared to leave college.

But hey, there’s hope! Just because college is ending doesn’t necessarily mean that getting involved has to end as well. As young professionals stepping into the real world, the chance to get involved in the community is endless and the opportunity to network is even greater than what the college level has to offer. For instance, there are a number of organizations dedicated to serve and connect young professionals. On a local level, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce offers a number of opportunities for professionals both young and old. Additionally, if you have certain special interests and causes that you would like to advocate for, there are even more opportunities. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to getting involved with two different organizations after I graduate: Coalition of Asian American Leaders & National Association of Asian American Professionals. Ultimately, I see college as a unique stepping stone for students to get active in their communities. If student leaders are able to translate the work that they’ve put it in at the university level into their communities afterward, just imagine the positive impact and change that can occur in the world.

Conclusion
So where do we go from here with zero motivation to study, “senior slide” kicking in if it hasn’t already, and the struggles of going from college-life to the real world? Well, if I told you I have all the right answers, I would be lying. I think the important piece is to simply reflect on the time in college and enjoy the last few moments before it all ends. Furthermore, ask questions and have conversations with professionals and staff who work with students who go through this transition such as career counselors, advisors, etc. I know for myself, my supervisor, Ellen, has pushed me to seek out opportunities past the college bubble and to consider ways of still getting involved in the working world. For many, a lot of individuals are ready and can’t wait to fly off into the real world, and for the very few like myself, it’ll be a bittersweet ending leaving the college life and the opportunities and activities that came with it. Like I said before, if student leaders were able to make a great impact at the college level, imagine the potential for growth and positive change in the future once this effort is transferred to our communities whether that be on a local, regional, national, or international level. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and change the world (for the better, of course) graduates!

 

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The Dark Side of Leadership

By: Katie

There are many positive things about being in a leadership role, and it’s something I would encourage anyone to do. While being a leader is a great experience, there are also negative things a person has to deal with as a leader. This side of leadership – the dark side – is one we don’t often discuss. However, I think it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into when you sign on to be a leader. Therefore, here are a few things I have noticed about the dark side of leadership.

Dark Side of Leadership

Other people telling you how to lead.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a leader (in my opinion) is when others disagree with how you lead or try to tell you to do something differently. There are many different ways to lead and different kinds of leaders, and none is more correct than another. Still, there will be those who will tell you you’re doing it wrong or who give you unsolicited advice. It’s best to ignore them and trust your abilities and instincts.

When something goes wrong, it’s your fault.

Whenever something doesn’t go quite as planned – and there is always something – the fault is yours. Or at least that’s how others view it. This is particularly the case when you are the primary leader in a situation. The frustration, confusion, and anger of everyone you’re working with will be directed at you, whether or not it’s deserved. But hey, at least your capacity for patience will improve!

Dealing with the little details.

You don’t realize how much planning and organization goes into events until you’ve been in the position to plan them. There are so many minor tasks to complete for everything, and while none of them are too difficult or time-consuming, they definitely add up. Keeping track of all the little things is a necessary evil as a leader. For this, lists are your friend.

Busy. SO. BUSY.

Being in a leadership role takes a ton of work, and often no one really realizes just how much you do. It will take up large amounts of time and energy, and the work will continue to pile up even when you’re already feeling swamped with that and everything else going on in your life. Here is when it’s helpful to learn the difficult ability of saying no or delegating tasks to others.

When you don’t have the answers.

One of the worst parts for me is when others turn to me for answers I don’t have. As a leader, sometimes you’ll really just have no idea what you’re doing. When that happens, you don’t have the luxury of stepping back and letting others handle it. No – you’re the one in charge, and you need to find a way to lead others even when you feel lost. In my experience, it’s best to act confident even when you may feel like running away and crying in a corner.

Being a leader isn’t always wonderful, and there are times when it certainly won’t be fun. However, the stress, frustration, and confusion are all far outweighed by the benefits of leadership experience.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Craig Garner

APIA Leadership: Beyond the Boat

By: David

The notion of leadership is one that is highly valued among many individuals. In addition, race and diversity is a topic that is consistently prevalent in our society. When blending the two, the two elements complement one another quite well. Recently in life, there has been many events relating to  the two topics. Within this past month, I have had to plan for Asian Pacific American Association’s (APAA) Annual Culture Show, partake in various student of color panels, and discuss about cross-cultural communication. In addition, the recent events at the University of Missouri and Paris has definitely impacted me as an individual by urging me to reevaluate myself as an Asian Pacific American leader.  Today’s blog post zooms in on the two notions of leadership and culture, Asian Pacific Islander Leadership: Beyond the Boat.

Bamboo Ceiling

Before starting, I want to take some time to talk about the “bamboo ceiling” phenomenon. The term “bamboo ceiling” derives from Jane Hyun’s book Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians. To sum it up, the term refers to the barriers and limitations to Asian Pacific Americans to rise to leadership roles it. In regards to the historical context, before the modern days in Asia many people would built their homes out of straws, mud, and bamboo. Figuratively speaking, the “bamboo ceiling” is what limits Asian Pacific Americans in career success. Once the rooftop is sealed, an individual can only achieve so much, and therefore it often restricts one’s ability to reach their full potential.  

Beyond the Boat

As part of the title, I decided to include the phrase “Beyond the Boat.” Though there are numerous interpretations to this phrase, this is one concrete way of defining it:
“The concept of ‘Beyond the Boat’ was taken from the phrase, ‘Fresh off the Boat.’  The term ‘FOB’ often limits immigrants and Asian Americans, a way of making generalizations.  ‘Beyond the Boat’ was used to seek out the ways APIs were complex and rich in history, especially through activism, solidarity, and social change.” – Verna Wong

The term “fresh off the boat” is an older term for immigrants who are new to the United States who are freshly arriving off the boat (this was before air travel was a possibility). Altogether, we have the phrase, “fresh off the boat.” One thing to be aware of is that with race and culture there also comes many generalizations and stereotyping. The phrase “Beyond the Boat” is a way for individuals or a culture group to break these stereotypes and generalizations to overcome such judgements and expectations.

Relating back to the topic of leadership, the image of Asian Pacific Americans in leadership roles is one that is barely visible. According to LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), “less than 3% of the leadership of the nation’s top for-profit and non-profit groups are Asian Pacific Americans.”  With such a low percentage of role models, it’s difficult as an Asian Pacific American student to see a future past the “bamboo ceiling.” As an Asian American in today’s society, there is a lot of  concern as to what leadership opportunities are available for myself and others in the future. To go “beyond the boat” requires me to constantly step outside my comfort zone and always having to put in the extra effort to be acknowledged. Furthermore, this phrase inspires me to break the stereotypes and generalizations revolving around Asian Pacific Americans and also to increase the 3% of APIAs in leadership roles.

Conclusion

To conclude, the duty of being a leader is never an easy task to do. From any standpoint, there will always be some form of systematic oppression despite circumstances. As a student leader for APAA, I find it most difficult promoting such events and activities relating to the Asian Pacific culture and showing the common interest for those who may not identify with the culture itself. Furthermore, I find it difficult to motivate my fellow peers to embrace the trait of being a leader to increase the 3% due to the lack of APIA role models in society. As many millennials begin to enter leadership roles after college, it will be interesting to see how the percentage of leaders with a different ethnic background evolve throughout the years.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Leadership 1001: Three Basic Leadership Qualities & Tips

By: David

As I had mentioned from the previous post I would highlight some basic characteristics of a leader. These traits are what I personally think make good leaders.

Leadership 1001

1. Self

Before we dive in, I think it’s really important that we talk about the “self” first. In general, if you want to help others you have first learn to help yourself first. This may apply for many different cases whether it’s supporting others or even loving a significant other, you have to start from within (yourself) and work towards the external (others). I think this is key because it’s very important that leaders know who they are and know what they want. Not only that, but also having a high self-esteem, sense of self-efficacy, moderate self-regulation, and the list goes on and on. Really, in the end the most effective leaders are those who are comfortable and have come to accept themselves as a whole. They are the ones who take out time daily to better improve themselves.

2. Confidence

Confidence is one of the most important traits a person can have in general, not just in leadership. Confidence is important because it breaks down the barriers and fears that tend to hold us back. I can sit here all day and talk about the importance of confidence, but that would be irrelevant. I stress the importance of confidence for leadership because I believe it is an essential quality for a leader to have. Self-confidence gets rid of most insecurities, fears, and negativity. With confidence, leaders are able to execute tasks more efficiently and create a stable environment. I can’t emphasize how important confidence is when it comes to leadership. This blog post (The Role Confidence Plays in Leadership) I found online does a great job of highlighting the connections between leadership and confidence. Check it out!

3. Communication

It’s important for an effective leader to have great communication skills. It doesn’t matter if it’s public speaking, interpersonal communication, or simply expressing ideas. Communication is crucial when leading. I say this because there are two basic principles to communicating: talking and listening. Almost every second of being a leader requires talking. Whether you’re giving a speech or just getting to know your colleagues, it doesn’t matter. To branch off of that, it’s important that as a leader you practice your public speaking. In almost every leadership role you will have to, almost, always speak in public. It can range from giving a presentation, talking to your members for a meeting, or welcoming guests to an event. All of those require some degree of public speaking skills. To continue, as important as talking may be, I would have to say that listening is twice as important. It’s important that you listen to what people have to say and not just “hear” what they say. As a leader it’s important that you create a loyal and trusting environment for your followers. By talking, engaging, and listening to your followers you are able to create that environment yourself. Listening and meeting their needs is one of the most important tasks as a leader. To sum things up, I’m sharing two awesome blog posts from Forbes that talk about communicating and listening. Indeed very useful and I would highly recommend you to check it out. Communicating. Listening.

Now these are just three basic qualities and tips that I wanted to start with. From my experiences these are the three qualities that I have worked on most and have become quite familiar with. There are a zillion other characteristics and abilities that require you to be an effective leader, but you can only acquire so many. What makes leadership so awesome and fascinating is that every leader is different and they choose to have different qualities and abilities. As you start or continue your leadership journey I encourage you to consider the unique qualities and attributes you would like and acquire in order to become your own individual leader. In closing, I would like to share a quote that represents a leadership quality that I value.
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” – Arnold H. Glasow

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A Leader’s Awakening

By: David

Leader quote

Just like the good old saying says. “Leaders are not born, they are made.” Now I can sit here all day and talk about leadership, but today’s focus will be geared towards to taking the first steps into leadership. Here are some tips and advice on getting your feet into the doors of leadership.

1) You have to ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a leader?”

Every leader has a different goal and passion and therefore different purpose. It can vary from making the world a better place to making your business the best and even to simply just wanting to help others. Leaders are born through inspiration and motivation.

From experience, one of my biggest difficulties has always been deciding my purpose for leading. After much reflection and thinking, I’ve come to conclude that I really want to help others better themselves and potentially awake the leader within as well.

2) Get involved!

Now that you have the cognition to start your leadership you now have to get experience! You can only learn from DOING. If you don’t get hands-on experience then you’ll never learn and grow as a leader. Take every opportunity you get! Here on campus we have various opportunities like Greek Life, Bulldog Welcome Week Rockstar, Student Advisor, Peer Tutor, Peer Educator in our office, and a ton of student organizations for all students. Use your resources and take every opportunity you get before your time runs out. You can also participate, and earn a leadership certificate, through the Kirby Leadership Institute.

3) Be curious to new knowledge.

One of the most important things to be an effective leader is always having the mentality to learn something new every day. The more you know the more you will be able to help and advise your followers. Even if you may know a lot already always be open to new knowledge and whatever else that may come your way. Be humble and never stop learning because knowledge is key, but how you use your knowledge is even more crucial.

In closure, there is no exact “right” time to start your journey of leadership. It all depends on you. Once you have that feeling and know that you are ready then by all means start leading! There are many key characteristics that many great leaders have. Stick around as I’ll be highlighting some of these characteristics in my next blog post!

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Don’t Get Stuck: A College Student’s Guide, Part 2

By: Glen

A fear that many people have is being stuck with a “dead-end” job. This is why more and more people are attending college. The expectations of today are that people need a college degree (or more) to get the job they want. Unfortunately, running off to college and getting a degree is not the cure-all to avoid being stuck. If this is true, what is the answer? This is the second in a series of posts to help give some ideas for what to do while at college to give you an advantage in the world.

Don't get stuck

Explore The Unknown

My first post in this series discussed joining student organizations. Besides building resumes, joining an organization also aids in the networking aspect of advancement. When trying to brainstorm organizations to join, try to think outside the box. It is nice to be involved in at least one organization that is something you know you enjoy; however, college is a great time to try and expand your horizons, and learn some new skills. For some people, trying new things is easy. Whether it comes easy or not, continuing to grow as a human being is important to not getting stuck. I brought up student organizations again, because there are definitely chances to reach out and learn new skills in different student groups. If you see something that might interest you, but you are unsure about, try it out!

There are many more things to try in college; you never know when you will find something meaningful.

Here is a short list of things to try:

  • Study Abroad
  • Take a class for fun
  • Run for a leadership position in a club
  • Make friends with people from different cultures
  • Join those friends’ cultural organizations!
  • Become involved in a professor’s work (research or performance)
  • Apply for work just because it sounds fun

“Some of those ideas do not seem like things that can get me a job…” That statement is correct, in a small sense. A lot of these experiences will not lead directly to a full-time job out of college; however, they will help you develop your transferable skill set. Study abroad can help you gain the confidence to try new things, and be open minded. Taking a class for fun will aid you in your knowledge base, which never hurts. Holding a club leadership position puts responsibility on your shoulders, strengthening your leadership skills. Making friends with people from different cultures will open your world, in a similar way Study Abroad does, especially if you become active in their cultural activities. Becoming involved in a professor’s work can give you real-world experience, and a professional colleague. Applying for jobs that sound interesting can aid you in finding what in the world you want to do with your life!

I will end this post in the same manner I ended my first one: if you don’t want to get stuck, don’t sit still. Be proactive. Expand your horizons. All of those clichés are applicable. Whatever you do: don’t do nothing.

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