My biggest leadership lesson

I wrote in my post on National Badge Day about how and why I still volunteer with my sorority. I felt kind of fake writing it because at that point I had already announced to the organization that I was stepping away.

Essentially, I felt as though I hadn’t really figured out how to balance my own life as an adult before jumping in with both feet into the various roles I have held on the committee. I had allowed it to completely take over my life, taking over time for personal projects, courses, exercise, even my dating life(!) and eating into my sleep and personal time. I also was having doubts about my ability and decisions to lead the group through a trying time.

Tonight I led my last big group meeting, it’s a student group and they start exams in a couple weeks so things are winding down for the semester. They completely surprised me by going around the Zoom and saying a special memory they had with me. I completely wasn’t expecting it and was very much emotionally unprepared.

It’s a bit of an emotional blur but what they talked about most was how I had made them feel. They described me as someone who lead with empathy and whose first priority was caring for and the welfare of the women I worked with.

I think our whole lives we are told that people don’t remember what we do or what we say but that they remember how we made them feel. It’s one thing to hear it and it’s another thing to have it shown to you.

I often tell people that the best thing about being on Alumnae Advisory Committee (AAC, Pi Beta Phi’s alumnae collegiate support system) is how much I have learned. And I normally mean hard skills, records management, communication in a large organization, managing a large budget, managing a residential facility, an extremely thorough understanding of Ontario’s Residential Tenancy Act but I think tonight I learned my greatest lesson. Leading with compassion, kindness, and empathy is the most valuable leadership skill you can possibly have. Caring about the people you work with and showing it. I think that so often we can be so scared to show that we care, but when we do people don’t follow us because they must, they work with us because they want to.

I don’t know if I’ve ever learned a better lesson.


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