Gwinnett Leadership Forum
Leadership at the Collegiate Level
By: Timothy Leazer, Campus Outreach Augusta
As a recent graduate from college, and someone who now works as a leader on the college campus, I can confidently say that there is a desperate need for mentorship on college campuses today. The problem that I find with most students is not that they don’t know what they want to do, but they have no idea who they are. This is a big problem because I meet many men and women who are pursuing what would seem to be very fulfilling and purposeful career paths, and they still say they feel like they lack purpose. This is the sad reality of most students in college, so as a leader I believe there are a few things you could do to help students regain a purposeful vision for themselves. I have heard it said before that mentoring college students is believed to be one of the most strategic places to mentor because these are our next generations leaders. I believe this to be so true, and if it is true then the impact a leader can have in college student's lives could change the world.
I believe the greatest way to do this as a leader is to do life-on-life with these students. To break down what I mean in the most simple way possible I will use three different types of time you can spend with students and why they are all important. The three types of time you can spend with students are called Formal, Informal, and Non-formal time. To start, formal time is a time where you may meet with a student with a drawn out plan. This plan may consist of you helping them cast vision for their lives, set goals, ask them intentional questions to get to know them more, and you would use this solely as a time of teaching. This is very important because you will begin to understand who you are leading and what they need to grow in.
The second kind of time is called informal time. This is a time where you would invite the student in on something you already planned on doing throughout your day. While doing this you have some intentional questions in mind to ask to begin to spark some genuine conversation. For example I like to workout and I will invite students to workout with me, and while we are working out I will plant questions throughout our workout to check in on how they are doing. These times are very important because when students don’t feel the pressure of a formal setting they begin to open up more. This is also very important to spend this time with students because if all the time you spend with someone is formal, they will only feel like a project and not as if you actually care about them.
The last kind of time you should spend with a student is what is called Non-formal time. This is when you hangout with a student and go do something you both enjoy. This for me looks like inviting a student to go fishing with me on the lake or river. The reason for this is that experiences with people build stronger relationships. I have always been told that people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. During this time people see that you genuinely do care about them, and as a leader on the college campus that is the ultimate goal.
If you want to win people over and help them begin to become a better leader, it is going to take a ton of denial of self on the leader's end. Most of a leader's job is to show people the right path, but people need to see your mistakes along the way and how you deal with them too. More is caught than taught on any given day of the week, so give them your formal, informal, and nonformal time and let the chips fall where they may.