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Leadership Is For Everyone

Leadership is an abstract concept: there isn’t one definition that can explain its depth, as different people value different qualities, skills and styles.

This means that, even though it’s often associated with business, management or administration, leadership is something that anyone, regardless of their field of studies or work, can and should develop. However, in certain areas it can be hard to envision who a leader should be, how they should act, how they can effectively make a difference and how we can become one.

In this article we share the perspectives of people from multiple academic backgrounds, to show how important leadership is for everyone and hopefully bring some light over this matter.

We asked them the following questions:

  1. What does healthy/positive leadership mean to you, personally?
  2. What does it mean to be a leader in your field?

Here are their answers!

Law

Beatriz Martins, Law student

“For me, leadership means setting the example for others and becoming involved in our communities in an act locally. In a global perspective, it means inspiring others to become the change. I believe leadership can be developed in anyone by starting to be self-aware of our strengths and weaknesses, being interested in the world we live in and taking responsibility to help improving society in some matters, even the smallest ones.”

“Leadership plays an important role in the Law field even when we’re still in university: from early on we learn to identify and analyse issues, solve problems and communicate clearly and persuasively. Communication is crucial in the legal field in many ways, since we always work in teams and need to express our ideas to the people we seek to lead; quick problem-solving skills are also necessary, once we are faced with the most varied problems in the workplace or in the cases we work on. Most importantly, to be a leader is to lead by example, by showing empathy to others and understanding what other people need from our expertise, because when people seek help from lawyers, they don’t only need our legal knowledge, but also our advice on how to solve their problems.”

 

Communications

Margarida Oleiro, Social and Cultural Communication student

“For me, true leadership means to dare to get out of our comfort zone, share our vision and while being vulnerable and honest, grow alongside the ones who surround us, accepting both failure and success and most importantly, being able to grow from it.

We all know it’s easier said than done, but the first step towards leadership is to believe in yourself and in our own potential. At the same time, strong bonds that strive for excellence are greater, therefore leadership is also defined by protecting what I think is one of the most precious and special aspects of our lives: our relationships with other people.”

“As a communications student, I’m firmly convinced that to become a great leader in this field we truly have to be outspoken based on a creative and strategic mindset. Being open to change and learn from others are also key factors as well as aiming every day to be the best and the most authentic version of ourselves.”

 

Social Sciences

Daria Semenchuk, Sociology student

“Leadership is the ability to produce respect and admiration in the relationship with others. These characteristics cannot be imposed, as they will lose their value. Only through dedication, resilience and humanity can we first become leaders in our eyes and, later, in the eyes of those around us.”

“All social science professionals have the ability to be a leader. This area provides scientific knowledge about human behavior and the changes that occur in our social reality, being in our power how to apply it effectively. Thus, in the social sciences, we are leaders when we use our knowledge to impact the world. For that, it is necessary to be decisive and assertive, we can only be successful if we are not afraid to make even the hardest decisions.”

 

Hospitality

Brian Fuller, Hospitality and Tourism Management student

“In my opinion, a good leader communicates their ideas successfully, sets expectations from the beggining and motivates their team to do their best. Leadership involves empathy, resilience and composure: a leader has to be comprehensive and understand their team’s needs, be able to overcome challenges and obstacles that may show up and keep their emotions in control.”

“In order to become a leader in hospitality, the number one quality to develop is customer centricity. People and communication skills, not only to handle guests but also employees/ co-workers is very important too. What works best, in my opinion, is to delegate responsibilities, avoid micro-management and encouraging over-achievement. Business skills such as computer technology and bookkeeping procedures are also relevant.”

 

Natural Sciences

Luca Zeiner, Biology student

“I think leaders have clear goals and they do everything in their power to achieve them. If someone’s in charge of a team, they acknowledge their efforts and keep them updated in order for it to function properly. Positive leadership is empowering, therefore leaders motivate those around them by providing a healthy work environment, where their achievements are recognized and mistakes are rectified, not punished.”

“To be a leader in science you need to understand what your objective is or identify a specific problem and outline steps in order to achieve your goal or solution, also by investing in the research needed to do so. Being a leader isn’t necessarily a role (in an investigation or project, for example) but a way of living – like being confident in your abilities, inspiring others and do meaningful work. Communication, attention to detail, troubleshooting and problem solving skills are all important aspects to succeed in this field.

 

Marketing

Selina, Marketing master student

“Healthy leadership to me means being able to talk to my boss, without having to fear that I’m not taken seriously. I don’t want to be judged by my age or my work experience, but by my qualifications and skills that I contribute to a company. At my work place, I want to be supported by my peers as well as by my superiors, but at the same time I want to be allowed to work independently and be given responsibility over my own projects. Yet, I also understand that leaders sometimes need to make tough decisions on their own, which brings me to another aspect that defines healthy leadership for me: communication. Be open and transparent! I don’t care whether my boss gives me good or bad news, but I want to be informed about it and if possible be able to take matters into my own hands. Give me the chance to help and don’t force me to be a clueless bystander while projects fail! Moreover, healthy leadership to me means being understood and being treated like a human being instead of a machine in a working mechanism. If you ask me, being a good leader isn’t that difficult… Just ask yourself how you would like and expect to be treated by others and treat others with the same respect.”

“In order to become a leader in marketing, one needs to understand what marketing actually means. It’s not enough to say that marketing is only about selling a product or that it’s only about creating an ad. Marketing combines aspects like intuition and creativity with hard skills in areas like marketing research, business analytics and decision making. Since marketing is a rather fast paced industry, it’s important that people and also leaders acknowledge that they don’t know everything. New techniques and methods for communicating or promoting are being developed frequently, and if you want to keep being successful and competitive, it’s vital to stay up to date and trust the knowledge of fellow employees. However, leadership is also about making decisions and standing up for the results, no matter the outcome. Furthermore, communication is key! You want to lead a successful team? Be transparent with your employees and give them enough room to be creative on their own. You want to be recognized by customers? Think outside of the box and offer customers innovative, fun and integrative marketing campaigns. You want to be seen as a good leader? Find the right mix between pleasing employees, making tough decisions, relying on data, while also keeping an eye on various metrics.”

 

As you can see, everyone conceptualizes leadership in their own way. It’s important to understand there are many aspects to take in consideration, and different environments involve different responsibilities. Start by understanding what your industry, field or team needs and adapt to it, in a way that sets you apart from others in the most positive way.

Now it’s your turn – tell us what leadership means to you! Check out our Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn and let us know your opinion.

Leading By Example Is The Best Way To Inspire Others

It’s time to ditch the “do as i say, not as i do” mindset. Regardless of the situation, double standards will demotivate anyone that is following advice if you don’t practice what you preach.

– How can a supervisor expect his employees to be proactive during a slow shift, when he’s found watching netflix in the backroom during his work hours?

– Or how can a project manager inspire her team to work hard and long hours when she spends half of her day on her phone?

If people look up to their leaders, they will try to imitate them. Leaders have a responsibility to their team and a part of is is being consistent and sincere! The best way to encourage people to do their best is by doing it yourself – “walking the walk” as some may say.

This leadership style helps others see what lies ahead and act quickly to meet any challenges along the way. When a group is led by a person with poor leadership skills, there will often be conflict in the group as each person wants to do things their own way.

The vision you work so hard to achieve may lose its appeal, all because your team no longer trusts you. Good leaders drive their people forward with enthusiasm, inspiration and confidence.

Don’t get me wrong, leaders are supposed to guide and motivate their people with their words, but they can’t just stop there. Their level of involvement in the actual work is gonna have a reflection on their team and will allow them to propose more effective solutions when problems arise.

Leaders who put this in practice also have a better sense of what appropriate requests sound like, because they’re self aware enough to know what they themselves would be willing to do.

A popular example is Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, who says “both my own leadership style, and that of the other leaders at HuffPost, is very much like being in the middle of the circle, rather than at the top of the mountain shouting down”.

Leading by example is your most powerful tool as your actions have a far greater impact than your words, because people may doubt what you say, but they’ll believe what you do.

 

Effective Conversations: A list of reminders to communicate like a leader

Recruiters have made it clear that communication skills are essential in any field of work. Besides that, if you think about it, there are so many other valuable soft skills that require you to be a strong communicator, such as: persuasion, public speaking, negotiation, storytelling, etc.

Additionally, it has been proven that good communicators are better listeners than most! It’s safe to say these are essential skills for any team to be successful.

“But what if I’m not a people person?” That ‘s okay! No one’s born knowing everything. Thankfully, communication skills can and should be practiced, even if you think yours can’t get any better.

Check these 5 reminders that’ll help you communicate more effectively.

Showing emotion isn’t unprofessional

Everyone wants to “look good”. More often than not, the fear of showing an over-the-top reaction will get in the way of our listening and speaking. Keep in mind that it’s deflating to be around someone who is impossible to impress. Be excited for a co-worker’s achievements and congratulate your team on their success, you’re not being “soft”, you’re being kind.

Not a competition

Another way of killing the joy in any conversation. If someone is talking to you about how excited they are for their next trip to France, telling them “I’ve gone there 4 times and it’s not that great” is not the right thing to say, try to recommend places to visit instead. Making others feel inferior will lead to a failed conversation.

It’s ok to be wrong

The need to be right may emerge from a fear of being disrespected. Or it can come from the fear of being seen as we truly are – imperfect human beings who are flawed and full of inconsistencies and contradictions. Being right does not make you better than anyone else and insisting on it will show off your insecurities.

Let others speak

Interrupting people is one of the most common mistakes to make in conversations and yet, it’s the most overlooked. Be self aware enough to recognize if you do this often in order to “catch yourself” in future conversations.

Don’t assume bad intent

If someone disagrees with you in a conversation that doesn’t mean they’re attacking you and your perspective. Unless they’re disrespectful towards you, avoid being defensive over your argument, it’ll make you seem less secure in your answers and point of view.

 

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The Hardships of Leadership

There are millions of inspiring stories out there of people who have worked hard to become the best version of themselves. We often read about today’s leaders’ stories and there’s a large focus on everything that went right, but not everything is a bed of roses.

Everyone’s leadership journey is different, let’s go over some common obstacles leaders face every day.

 

  1. Fear of failure: Insecurity affects everyone, leaders are no exception. It can be especially hard to deal with when you have a large number of people depending on you. However, mistakes allow us to learn and grow. Accepting them as part of the process is important.

“It is hard to fail but it is worse to never have tried to succeed” – Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States)

 

  1. Lack of communication: Not being able to openly communicate with those around you may affect productivity and lead to conflict. Many leaders sometimes feel disconnected from their team and the best way to fix it is by being transparent about their plans and strategies, encouraging honest feedback and allowing two-way conversations. Pro tip: communicating with people with different levels of authority requires you to be versatile and adapt your speech to each situation

“The difference between mere management and leadership is communication” Winston Churchill (UK’s ex Prime Minister)

 

  1. Dealing with pressure: Managing people’s expectations is something lots of leaders struggle with. It’s essential to acknowledge your feelings in order to control the way you react, since it’s not unusual to be less patient and more defensive in stressful situations. If you let your anxiety go unchecked you may hurt the relationship you have with your co-workers.

“We discover our character through decisions under pressure” – Dan Millman (Author)

 

  1. Burnout: When someone’s truly passionate about what they’re working on it’s easy to push too hard. The truth is, if you burn yourself out, you won’t be leading anyone. Keep a healthy balance between work and life. Considering an excessive amount of work hours a symbol of dedication and courage is wrong.

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of the time we put in”– Arianna Huffington (co-founder of The Huffington Post)

 

  1. Delivering bad news: Leadership positions are filled with hard decisions. Being able to deliver bad news in an empathetic and clear way will allow you to find the next steps and not negatively impact the workplace’s culture.

“Better to have bad news that are true than good news we made up” – Eric Ries (Entrepeneur)

 

  1. Keeping it human: Vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of humanity. You’re not a machine who doesn’t make mistakes. Allowing the people you’re leading to see that gives them an opportunity to remember no one expects them to be perfect, contributing to a supportive and compassionate place of work. Vulnerability is about authenticity and it demonstrates high emotional intelligence.

“A leader, first and foremost, is human. Only when we have the strength to show our vulnerability can we truly lead” Simon Sinek (Author and inspirational speaker)

 

It’s not easy to be a leader. We will always find obstacles along the way that we need to face as challenges instead of problems. Being open to learn and grow from them is extremely important in order to inspire and empower others.

What better way to start your own leadership journey than through a volunteering experience or internship abroad? Visit aiesec.org to check the opportunities we have for you!

10 reasons not to become a Global Volunteer

It’s been a buzzword for quite some time and still, it’s something many people don’t like to associate themselves with or that can seem downright controversial – volunteering. The notion of altruistically providing a service without any financial gain is nothing new and yet, in light of an ever-changing international context, it seems to become more relevant than ever, especially among young people.

Going abroad and working as a volunteer might not have crossed your mind before, or you may have simply thought you’re not cut out for it. If you’re looking for more reasons not to embark on what could end up being the greatest adventure of your life, keep reading:

  1. You’ll get to know a different culture, and I don’t mean just by looking from afar, as if you would watch a movie, but actually immersing yourself in everything it has to offer – understanding customs and traditions, as well as learning the meaning behind all of it.
  2. You’ll see incredible places that you might have never thought you’d end up witnessing. Whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to visit or a hidden spot, unknown to usual tourists, you can be sure you’ll remain speechless at least once or twice.
  3. You’ll be faced with a new language that’s nothing like yours and that you never imagined you’ll want to learn. Although you won’t become an expert in six weeks, by the time you return home you’ll surely have some cool phrases to teach your friends.
  4. You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone and learn to deal with unexpected situations. No matter where you decide to go, you can be sure something will pop up that will force you to rethink your course of action, and guess what? You’ll be a better, more capable person by the end of it.
  5. You’ll become more aware, not only of what things are like outside of your own reality, but also of who you are as a person, of what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can best put them to use in order to help change something in the world.
  6. You’ll meet people that will change your life, either by exposing you to a different worldview or by teaching you something about yourself or the planet. Whatever you decide to do, the people you meet along the way will always be the greatest component of journey and the thing you’ll value most after it’s over.
  7. You’ll gain a new perspective on who you are, what you want to achieve and what your role in the grand scheme of things is. You can be sure that by the end of your experience there’s going to be someone completely different staring back when you look in the mirror, because of all the way you’ve developed in.
  8. You’ll get to explore interests you didn’t think to pay attention to before. Whether it’s discovering your love for sharing knowledge with others or a secret passion for fields like photography, there’s definitely something to be gained out of having freedom to do new things.
  9. You’ll gain leadership skills that will help you in everything you do after you come back. Your studies, your career and your personal life will all have to benefit from the abilities you develop while being a volunteer. And no matter the field you want to be active in, you can be sure leadership is going to make a difference.
  10. You’ll become an agent of change by actively working on making the world a better place. Having the chance to do your part and leave your mark in the community you’ll live in by contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals will be something that you’ll always remember and that will definitely transform the way you think about world issues.

If the list we put together doesn’t appeal to you one bit, it might mean that you’re that rare unicorn that really shouldn’t try volunteering; but if it did – and we have a feeling you’re at least a tiny bit curious- then why not give it a try and discover all the amazing things it has in store for you? Go to aiesec.org and find your opportunity!

 

Why I joined and why I stayed

Starting university was like jumping into cold water for me. I had been a pretty good student in school (even though I, like many other teens, struggled with procrastination) and despite being an introvert I  managed, over the course of eight years to be able to talk freely and openly with everyone in my class.

You can imagine that 18-year-old me thought they were ready for life. Talking to people, effortlessly passing exams, life would just get easier, right?

Needles to say, things were a bit different than what I had envisioned. The first semester of university showed me that in real life you only have five minutes to get to know a person and not eight years as I had needed before. I learned that passing exams requires a lot of persistent work and studying during random energy spikes just gets you through STEOP, if you’re lucky. I realized I wasn’t actually ready for the real world: I was scared of approaching people, I was not capable of managing my time and there was no one who knew any better because all of my peers found themselves in similar situations.

Time passed and I stayed the same until one day, when I witnessed the lecture presentation of a student who was part of AIESEC. He somehow hit home on all my insecurities, at the same time mentioning that the organization could help one improve in those areas and develop skills I didn’t even know I would need. This seemed intriguing so I signed up and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in my university career.

I met amazing people who didn’t just help me become a better version of myself, but who also became great friends and my main reason to stay.

What occurred to me recently is that I will eventually have to leave too, that at some point I will finish university and go on to do and learn other things. In the end, AIESEC enables you to be a leader and, as a leader, it is your duty to go out into the world and help other people make the world a better place. The organization gave me a lot of things – development, community and impact – and the best way to give something back is to go further and use the things I’ve learned.

People say you’re only young once, so you should make the best out of it. While that’s  definitely true, I learned that in order to make the best out of something, you have to first be the best version of yourself. That’s where AIESEC helped me the most and I can only advise you to go through the same experience, because even if you won’t end up being the very best version of yourself,  you will for sure be better than you were in the beginning, and isn’t that the aspiration of us all?

Why I joined AIESEC at Vienna University of Technology

I am Behzard Parvin, an International Student from Iran studying Master of Electrical Engineering at Vienna University of Technology. I joined AIESEC after attending info evening held at Vienna University of Technology. The reason I decided to become a member of this organization was to improve my leadership skills and find new friends along the way, as I was new in the city. Another important driver was that I really wanted to improve my communication skills, as I realized I would need to be better at it in my future if I want to pitch a project or an idea, present myself to a company or communicate my ideas to a group of people.

After working with AIESEC for a semester, I can clearly see a change – I can say that I have gained practical experience and developed many soft skills needed for my future. That is why I decided to continue with my AIESEC experience and am currently the newly elected Vice President in our office at TU, in charge of bringing people from all around to world to an internship in Austria, to teach them more about Austrian culture, lifestyle and uniqueness.

taco-momentsBecoming a vice president opens a lot of possibilities – I will be able to lead a team of people, achieve certain goals and strive for success. This will be a great asset to my future and my career as an Engineer, because one day I wish to be in a management position where I will have to lead a team. The skills such as critical thinking, negotiating, interacting with the higher management and many others that I will develop now, will come in handy one day and make my job much easier.

While I was studying in Iran, I have been active in many extra-curricular activities but by joining AIESEC I learned more about how to communicate effectively not just to people from Austria or Europe, but to people of diverse backgrounds. The team in AIESEC is a multicultural one and counts more than 30 different nationalities within 4 local offices in Vienna. Understanding cultural diversity and different mindsets and meeting people from all around the world by attending numerous conferences, was one of the greatest experiences I gained as a member of AIESEC.

5 Reasons to Become a Youth Talent this semester! – AIESEC

1. “Living diversity”

Not only is this one of the organization’s key values, it also pretty much describes the possibilities AIESEC has to offer. No matter if your interests lie within Sales, Project Management, Marketing & PR or Human Resources – there are many different projects waiting for you to join in on and bring new ideas. And this is what diversity is all about, is it not? Connecting people with different mindsets and visions. Can it be difficult to work with many talented people, who all seem to know it all the best? Yes, definitely. Why bother to join anyways? It’s more than worth it, being part of an inspirational team like that, because in the end we are all striving to be the best possible versions of ourselves.

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2. AIESEC helps you to travel the world and connect with different cultures

Going abroad for an internship with the organization you’re working in! Can it get any better than that? You can select between numerous countries worldwide AIESEC in Austria is partnering with (Brazil, Peru, Greece, Switzerland, Ireland, Malaysia etc.). And if you are not interested in being away for a longer time, you can attend one of the various conferences AIESEC offers. They take place on national, but also international level. An amazing opportunity to work on your personal skills whilst simultaneously discovering another beautiful place, such as Istanbul for example. And even by staying in Vienna you can connect with people from various countries and sharpen your intercultural understanding as AIESEC is formed by students coming from many different cultural backgrounds.

3. It’s all about the networking …

Heard this sentence before?! Yes of course, especially when it comes to Business & Economics there is no such thing as the easy way to success. Forgive the disillusionment but nowadays it is not enough anymore to complete a bachelor’s degree in exactly six semesters with outstanding grades. There is much more to it. Practical work experience you experienced and connections you’ve made during that time play an important role. This is also where AIESEC can help you. Not only will you gain a lot of experience by completing different business related tasks, but you will also get the chance to meet many inspiring people and attend trainings, workshops and business meetings.

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4. Step towards your future career

As simple as it may sound -­ working in a student organization is also an extra point you can add to your CV. Once, an AIESEC member held a lecture presentation at a beginners course at WU and after he had finished the very well-­liked and respected professor encouraged the students  to give AIESEC a try. He  mentioned that being part of AIESEC can significantly improve your career chances. No need to say more, right?!

5. It’s a fun world …

Exactly! Nowadays we are so busy with striving for perfection, working and keeping up with everyone else. But as a matter of fact, we only live once and we should also not forget to have fun. And this is a big part of AIESEC, apart from the things you learn and the opportunities you get. You are going to meet amazing people with whom you can have a great time, share unforgettable memories and maybe even gain  some life-long friendships.

So what are you waiting for?! Give yourself the chance and start your journey with AIESEC.

For more information you can check the website: www.aiesec.at, our local Facebook pages or approach our info stands at universities.

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Author: Sara Balitzky