In My Own Words
Thoughts on Education, Artistry, and Leadership

Remarks at the Highlander Leadership Awards
April 30, 2009 at 6:00 PM
The Stockdale Center at Monmouth College

Good evening.  Let’s congratulate all of our nominees, all of our fine student leaders, one more time.

We’re wrapping up an awards banquet which recognizes outstanding leadership.  But, I’ve gotta ask.  What is leadership? I can be so many things, and perhaps too tricky a question.  So let’s ask instead, what isn’t leadership?

Leadership is not telling a group of people how to get the job done.  Leadership is not holding a bunch of offices or titles.  Leadership is not having a long resume.  Leadership is not ego.  Leadership is not doing community service to feel good about yourself.  Leadership is not winning awards.  Leadership is not being the boss, the authority, the person in charge.

So, what is leadership, if it isn’t these things?

Leadership is sharing.

Pure and simple, the best leaders are the people who share.  They are the ones who share their knowledge and expertise freely, rather than horde it in competition.  They are the ones who share their good ideas, the ones which sometimes are way outside the box.  Leaders are the ones who share their time, making themselves available to support those who need guidance.

What else do leaders share?  Leaders share their ears.  The best leaders keep their mouths shut and their ears open.  They listen to the people they would lead, because the best ideas for your organization come from the people most passionate about the organization – it’s members.

Really good leaders also share their ears with other leaders.  One leader can’t know it all, and they will only become a better leader by learning from the successes and challenges experienced by others.

But there is a much more simple, much more important thing that leaders share.  You each are doing it right now, in fact.  You were doing it the day you arrived on campus, and you’ll be doing it when you earn your diploma.  Some would-be leaders do it poorly, and excellent leaders do it well.

Ladies and gentlemen, as leaders, you are sharing your example.  You are leaders! People are watching you.  Not just the members of your organizations, but all of your fellow students, your professors, the families and communities you give service to, and all the people walking down the street.  We’re all watching you.  And we’re learning from you, because you are leaders.

Now, don’t get paranoid.

Instead, get inspired.  You touch literally hundreds of people every day.  In a year, you might be an example for thousands of people.  In your life, perhaps millions of people will be affected by the things you do.

So, think about that as you finish this year.  Some of you will be coming back to lead again at Monmouth College, and others will be taking your first steps into leadership beyond our community.

No matter where you go, and even just in the next few days of finals, share your good example of how to live well.  Study.  Have fun.  Take care of your friends.  Take care of yourself.  Be generous with your talents.  Be smart with your choices.

Just remember, you are leaders.  Lead well.

Please, have a good evening, and have a safe summer.  Best wishes for the rest of the year.

Thank you.

Daniel M. Reck, M.S.Ed., is Assistant Director of Greek Life, Leadership, and Involvement at Monmouth College.

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