Leadership opportunities are all around, they do not discriminate. Leadership is presented at a young age and it is something which continues on, right into adulthood. Leadership is a funny thing, it often is thrown at individuals and forced upon them weather it was something those individuals intentionally wanted, or not. This in itself is likely a contributor to the different styles and types of leadership talked about today. To lead a team is not to simply be put in a position of power. Leadership is intentional, it is a choice and how to effectively lead and influence change is constantly evolving.
So, what is leadership? According to the Mirriam Websters Dictionary Leadership it is defined as: “the office or position of a leader, capacity to lead and the act or instance of leading” (Merriam-Webster, 2021). Let that sit with you for a minute to digest. Once digested, what does that even mean? This underwhelming definition of a word with such importance simply proves Leadership is not an easy word to define or subject to explain (Dupree, 1989). To lead is a fluid art form with a responsibility to define reality and show grace, growth and learning (Dupree, 1989).
As a child I had always dreamed about being a teacher as I loved to help others. I grew up playing and coaching Water Polo and loved every bit about it. I particularly loved showing someone something new or explaining something in a way they would better understand and then watching the result of my teachings come to fruition. I liked to inspire through relation and care and was certainly a servant leader (Spears, 2010). As I grew older, however, this idea of becoming a teacher quickly faded as some fancy title in some bank or law office in a big city seemed more glamours to me. Upon graduating grade twelve I headed to University with not a clue as to what I was doing or where I would end up; I had no goals in mind. Although business administration would have made sense to complement my aim for a fancy title, all I was able to get into was the Faculty of Arts as I registered for University very late.
I began University and I absolutely hated it and felt as if I had no direction. I did not come from wealth and I knew it was costing my parents hard earned dollars for me to sit at that institution with no goals in mind. As I was reasonable and realistic, I decided that I should give school a break and go find myself a job. Again, thinking reasonably, I wanted a job which could be something that could turn into a career if I chose not to return to school. With the help of my Grandmother, I found myself a Customer Representative job as the same bank she had worked a very successful full career at. I was quickly successful in my role and it did not take long to start the ladder climbing to the next best job. The following fall rolled around, and I decided school was not for me, as I had found that job I could morph into a career.
I climbed the corporate ladder where I saw a move from Regina to Edmonton and then on to Calgary. There were points throughout my career where I always thought about going back to school to be a teacher, but I always ignored those little nudges I had. In 2015 I landed my dream job in the Private Banking office of this bank and I just knew this opportunity was going to be it. I spent five years in this office under a few different leaders through the course of that time. I experienced everything from amazing leadership to very poor leadership. The office environment quickly became toxic likely due to the lack of good leadership. As an obligation of a well-known international organization, company values were written but they were not lived by. There was no motivation to build future leaders and there was an extreme lack of positivity and poise; all things required for a successful work environment (Dupree, 1989). Things eventually got to a point where I knew I could not find happiness within those walls so I knew I needed to make a choice as to what my next move would be.
I had felt this feeling on occasion throughout the ten years I worked for this company. What I know now is, it was likely the lack of leadership which always had me questioning. More often than not, leaders were untrained, so they were missing the fine balance of results, relationships and responsibility (Scott, 2014). I made the tough decision to resign from my position in order to finally attend University for that teaching degree I always dreamed of. Leaving my career that I had worked so hard to build and leaving a city I loved was much harder than I thought it would be, but I would not change a thing. I am grateful for my past experience, as bizarre as it was, it was an excellent learning opportunity. The experiences which I have had over the past ten years have helped guide me and mould me into who I am today.
Who am I and where am I going?
My true goals, passions and five-year plan really began in October of 2018 when I decided to take the first step of a career change and to further my formal education. In December of 2018 I was accepted back into University into the Faculty of Education which meant, I began to design how that was going to work and what that was going to look like for me. I made the decision to continue to work my job in Calgary full time for the next year while taking a couple of online classes to test the waters, to really see if this was really what I wanted.
In December of 2019 I resigned from my ten-year career, packed my bags and headed home to Regina to attend University fulltime. Since January of 2020 I have been attending University fulltime while navigating a new society plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic. In January of 2021, I was called back to work for the same bank I have been employed with for 12 years now. I continue to balance school and work while creating the future I have always dreamed of.
I intend to finish my degree in December of 2022 at which time I will be fully available to begin my dream job. Throughout my five-year plan, leadership opportunities have been and will continue to be present and available. Leading is not something I plan on doing after I have achieved my goal of a formal education, rather, it is something I have been doing intentionally and unintentionally my whole life.
I am young and innovative with a drive for growth and a passion for change. I believe in learning always, all ways. Authenticity is important and integrity is key. Strong relationships are essential to success and they also build character. Happiness is far more important than money will ever be. To be kind means to care, to know things matter and to make those things count. Leadership is fluid, it is constantly changing. As I move towards my future “Through positive influence I will grow those around me, while intentionally acknowledging and unpacking the past”.
Dupree, M. 1989. What is Leadership? [online] University of Regina, UR Courses. Available at: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/2397256/mod_resource/content/1/Depree%2C%201989%2C%20What%20is%20Leadership%3F.pdf
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Leadership. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leadership
Scott, D. 2014. Contemporary Leadership in Sport Organizations, Chapter 1. [online] University of Regina, UR Courses. Available at: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/2398692/mod_resource/content/1/Ch.%202%2C%20Results%2C%20Relationships%2C%20and%20Responsibility.pdf
Spears, L. 2010. Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders. [online] University of Regina, UR Courses. Available at: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/2475394/mod_resource/content/1/Spears_Final.pdf
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.Max Dupree, 1989