The School of Public Affairs leadership program is a program that allows students to learn leadership skills, tools, and knowledge to prepare for future leadership roles and opportunities before entering the workforce. Throughout the 4 years of college, students in the leadership program take a leadership class every year that has its lessons and themes. Once the program is completed in the students’ final year of college, the students receive a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies.
When I first applied to be in the leadership program, I was not sure what this would entail, but I can say that it is one of the best decisions I made before beginning my years at American University. Before taking SPA leadership classes, I had one idea of what a leader was supposed to be, tough and authoritative. The leadership program showed me that there is a lot more to leadership than what people think, which explains why becoming a successful leader is easier said than done. The leadership program taught me that there are multiple layers to becoming a successful leader and a leader who constantly grows and develops. The leadership program also taught me what successful and unsuccessful types of leadership look like, what it means to work with a team, leading a team, my leadership traits, and so much more. All of this combined ultimately has given me the confidence to enter the workforce prepared for leadership tasks that will come my way.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, we always see and hear about one perspective of a leader. When I used to think of a leader, I would think of an individual who gives orders. Through the leadership program, I learned that leadership is portrayed in many different ways and does not always have to be an authoritative figure, but a coaching transformational figure as well. A leader works with their followers and even uses feedback from them as a source to grow and reach the end goal.
The Leadership Program gave me presentation skills, lifelong friends, leadership opportunities outside of the classroom, working with others, understanding others, network opportunities, leadership skills that go far beyond just working with a team, but also skills that apply to running a successful company. Overall, the key thing I took away from this program is that leadership is a process that takes time, practice, empathy, and patience. Becoming a successful leader is much more than just a position, but a fulfilling and rewarding learning experience.