Growing up as a kid who was intrinsically bossy, I often heard other adults telling my dad that, because of my bossy ways, I possessed “leadership qualities.” I don’t know about that because I was considered an only child. My closet sibling in age was thirteen years older so I was 100% the baby of the family. Frankly, those qualities are more often attributed to being the bratty baby child. Later, and with much maturity, the domineering trait I harnessed became much more than a fondness of giving people orders and getting my way but shaped its way into being something people could rely on.
As a youth, group projects in grade school are a good example of the very first real chance I had at leading. Later in middle school it became more obvious that my peers relied on me for guidance. My knowledge was trusted and it was a good feeling. I knew I could be of assistance to them. Things really got interesting in college. I didn’t want to be doing all the work and believe me, some tried their best to slack off and place the work entirely upon me but I took that as an opportunity to provide mentorship. I couldn’t just oversee projects. I had to make an impression on my peers and exhibit good work ethic, organizational skills, time management, and dedication. I had to impress upon them the importance of hard work paying off in the end. This was my chance to have a real influence on them. I hoped to influence their overall college experience and possibly for the rest of their lives.
I bet you’re asking yourself, “Where is she going with this?” Stay with me. Looking back and thinking critically about what pushed me to be that kind of person wasn’t solely the quality that lied within. It wasn’t being the baby child. It couldn’t just have been the gratifying feeling I got when someone said, “thank you.” I realized it was more of a sense of duty and self-discipline sourced from closely observing and listening to other successful people. I am driven by others’ belief in me but the cylinders are firing on self-confidence and desire to seek out knowledge.
Sometimes parents aren’t the greatest influences. Sometimes they are. Other times it’s teachers in school, friends’ parents, community members, colleagues, people we don’t know personally but they see a light in us and that builds confidence. Thinking more about it, I realized that I’d picked up on things I liked about other people and tried to adopt them or manifest a similar quality inside myself. I had to bring it out. As I developed a career, I subconsciously evoked these bound leadership qualities by positioning myself around knowledgeable people whom I’d talk with and seek perspective. Case in point—there are individuals with leadership qualities but those qualities never amount to anything because the person doesn’t develop them or an opportunity is missed. On the other hand, there are individuals with the same qualities who seize opportunities to develop those skills or someone else believes in them enough to put them in a position of opportunity. Do you know of someone who pushes harder than others to learn and deserves an opportunity to lead?
NACA hopes that our Emerging Native Leaders Summit (ENLS) is that opportunity for individuals from the Native community. We hope that, by encouraging our members to send aspiring businessmen and women, peoples’ lives and careers are catapulted forward.
Learn more about ENLS by visiting the event webpage, here.