Value of leadership skills

Hello, Rensselaer. With this week’s edition of the Top Hat, I would like to take a moment to talk to current and aspiring student leaders about planning for the future, whether within the Rensselaer Union, outside in the general RPI community, or beyond our campus as we enter the real world.

Having the opportunity to hold a leadership position is a great thing at RPI—taking it and doing something meaningful and long lasting is even greater. Already at Rensselaer, students have enormous opportunity to make a tangible impact—the challenge is in taking that opportunity and making the best of it. In my time as Grand Marshal, I’ve learned a few things about leadership and absolutely loved this community; I’ve seen student senators and leaders put their hearts into accomplishing great things. As April approaches and GM Week rolls around, the time comes for me to prepare to move on, and share a little of what I’ve learned.

Being a leader, whether Grand Marshal, President of the Union, or any of the other myriad of students who contribute to campus in so many ways, is about knowing your purpose and nurturing a vision for the future—and exposing that vision to every possible challenge thrown your way. This sort of vision isn’t something you develop overnight, and it’s not something you can forge on your own. Having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish is critical to leaving a strong legacy, and the vision comes from hard work and from careful listening to your stakeholders as well as your critics. As Kenneth Blanchard said, “none of us are as smart alone as we all are together.” You will partner with whomever you work alongside in your club or team, so nurturing their good ideas as you form your purpose, together, will make you all the stronger.

For me, the time has come to start looking forward, to recognize and embrace what I’ve learned. Entering into our final two months, I’m finding this to be an extraordinary experience. The goal now is to finish strong, and to prepare to apply those skills to the rest of my life, and to help shepherd in the next leaders who will begin to use their vision—and their purpose—for the good of this amazing community.

Elections will be starting soon, with the GM Week 2015 Handbook up for a vote in the Senate this Monday. For any students who are interested in running for a position in Student Government: while I cannot endorse or support any prospective candidate, I would be happy to share all of my insights and go over your ideas. To anyone considering pursuing the role of Grand Marshal or President of the Union or to those who may decide to run for Senate positions, now is the time to begin thinking: What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to run on? What do you want to do and accomplish if you succeed and are elected? Think about these things so that if you choose to go for a position, you stand on firm ground, ready to move forward with confidence and purpose.

As a brief update on the Union Constitution, last Thursday the Union Constitution Committee’s first proposed amendment—General Changes and Disambiguation—was quickly approved for a student body vote during GM Week 2015. Amendments 2 and 3 were postponed following a desire for more internal feedback and conversation with the public. As a result, I have called an extra meeting on Monday, March 9 in addition to its general meetings on Thursday, March 5 and Thursday, March 12 to ensure that the Senate can stay up to speed with its regular business, while giving all amendments the thorough discussion they need. If you have any questions about the upcoming elections or the Constitution amendment process, find me in my office Mondays and Thursdays from 11 am to 2 pm.