by Shane L. Windmeyer
Many people misunderstand what it means to be a LEADER. College students today often view leadership as synonymous to what we see business leaders, celebrities, sports stars, politicians do. We equate leadership with success and fame and often forget about the quality leadership that surrounds us everyday. We misplace our trust and lose value in leadership when we see “our leaders” act without honesty, integrity, compassion and fairness toward all people.
So what does it mean to “LEAD with PRIDE?” Well, it is more than a slogan for Campus Pride. It is at the core, a CALL TO ACTION for everyone — to be PROUD of who we are, to live openly and honestly, to have conviction, to show our passion and humanity and – most importantly, to be advocates for fairness and equality.
I believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allies must rise to a different level of leadership on campus. We must recognize the inequality we face, the prejudice and the bigotry still present in our lives. But, we must not let these acts of hate, prejudice and bigotry hold us down or inhibit expressing who we are. Instead, we must channel our energy, our community, into a positive force of campus leadership for change — always with a vision for equality. A level where we “LEAD with PRIDE.” We must be reminded that all eyes are watching what we do, how we act, our response, when and how we choose to take a stand. We must be willing to network, to learn and to share our failures and our successes. Leadership is not about individual “self” but rather what we can accomplish together to benefit everyone.
Leadership is not something learned overnight or even in a lifetime. We are all growing as leaders and college is the best opportunity to learn, fail and succeed. Some of us may not ever want to be a leader, while other people may dream of being a leader. Either way, we do not know when we will be tested and when our time to lead will present itself. Listed below are some suggested PRIDE tips to support your leadership role on campus, as follows:
Focus – Several challenges and opportunities come before a leader. We may not know an opportunity or be able to overcome our challenges unless we keep our “focus.” A quality leader will have a goal and a vision for a projected outcome and seek opportunities to achieve success. Often, while certain goals may be obtainable quickly, your vision may be a lifelong process or may require a week, a month, a year or may not happen until after you graduate college.
Passion – Good people will always prevail in the end. I firmly believe that in life. You may ask what is a “good” person? By using the word good, I am talking about your soul, your PASSION. LGBT and Ally leaders must share openly and honestly our lives in an effort to break down the stereotypes, the prejudice and the hate surrounding being LGBT on campus. Our passion can and will transform how people see who we are and why we strive for not “special rights” but “equal rights.”
Commitment – As leaders, we are given a valuable, precious responsibility. A responsibility that must be “more than who we are.” Our actions and judgments must always keep this responsibility in mind in order to reflect the views and interest of the many — not the views of self or interests of a few. Our word should count for something and people will judge leaders based on their actions, commitment and follow-through. Set a deadline, meet it! Say you are inclusive, act on it! A simple rule, but often forgotten…
Integrity – A trait often lost in today’s leaders. Leaders must be forthright, honest and deserving of trust. Especially for LGBT student leaders, there are many people who watch our actions on campus. These people may be our opponents or our proponents to equality and fairness. These people may be questioning college students and, or could be the people who are against everything we believe. No matter, our integrity will determine whether people believe in you as a leader, trust you and depend on you.
Teamwork — A leader is not one person. A “leader” is merely a title given to someone who can inspire others to action, who can motivate and who can create positive change. More valuable than a leader are the people who are part of the team. It is not about who is in charge. It is about how we treat others as leaders. How we learn as leaders and let others learn with us. Leadership remains, not about self, but about the sum of us.
Humor – A leader can and should have many personality traits. Leadership styles will also vary among students, but there should always be a time and place for laughing, fun and good humor in leadership. We look for leaders who reflect the best of who we are, who can inspire and who can have fun. Leaders must be willing to laugh at themselves and allow others to have laugh too!
Source, Shane L. Windmeyer, Campus Pride, 2004.