Leadership Through Students’ Eyes

This semester, 28 leaders from 17 different fields shared what it takes to be a good leader with students in my Leadership Communication course at San Francisco State University. After hearing the stories and wisdom of all these leaders, the students reflected upon what they learned and what they valued the most.

Leaders interviewed for this assignment are in a wide range of industries including professional baseball, hospitality, technology, restaurant, military, law, government, finance, retail, and even cannabis.  Their titles varied from directors to founders and everything in between. Below are the students’ favorite words of wisdom from these leaders.

Make the Effort

Say yes to opportunities.

80/20 rule – put 80% of effort into something you like and the other 20% comes easily.

Use the resources available to you to overcome challenges.

Hard work pays off.

Hold yourself accountable for your success.

Learn Constantly

Sometimes you learn the most from failure.

Act like a sponge.

Strive to master tasks – know everything about the job, and others will recognize and value your expertise.

Each person is like a steak, all the content people bring you is an ingredient – if you embrace all the knowledge you will become a tasty dish.

Be a lifelong learner.

Be good at identifying your own weaknesses.

Know who you are as a leader.

Learn from your failures, others’ failures, and your success. 

Always Communicate

You don’t have to always be the loudest in the room in order to be a good leader.

Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Be direct but be kind. 

Communication is key!

You can influence without authority.

Adjust to the Situation at Hand

Use different leaderships styles with different leaders.

Have thick skin.

Emotions are contagious.

Passion is energy. Use it.

My hope in sharing these nuggets of knowledge is that a few of them strike you as memorable, spark an old flame of enthusiasm for leadership, or can be directly applicable to your daily work. Lead on.