Looking at Leadership Through Multiple Lenses

Leadership is a quality I’ve always valued and found necessary in my life. As an older sister of 3 (the featured picture of my 3 younger sisters and older brother), growing up, it was always my job to be a role model and leader for my sisters. Since they looked up to me, and followed my behavior, I had to make sure I was portraying the right character traits. Still to this day, I always think about how my decisions can potentially influence my little sisters to make the same ones.

I realized I was a leader for my sisters when my 5 year old mini-me said an inappropriate word for a toddler in front of my parents. When they asked her where she learned that word from she said, “I heard Kaela say it”. My parents told me about the scenario and that’s when I actually saw first hand how everything I do can affect my little sisters. So from then on, I began to really pay attention to my actions, especially when I was around them. With that being said, I’m a firm believer that older siblings can be natural leaders in other settings without even realizing it.

At my previous institution, I was a STEM tutor and peer mentor. I worked with students who struggled in their classes or had personal issues that affected their health. I also mentored students who didn’t care about their work and didn’t have any motivation to succeed. My role was to be a leader and motivate them to focus on their health, go to class, and inspire them to want to succeed. While this duty was not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to do, I loved doing it. I loved seeing the improvement in my mentees throughout the year. I loved knowing that I played a role in inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves. Seeing the joy on their faces when they improved on their grades or when they stepped out of their comfort zone and enjoyed it.

I loved how my leadership was making an impact on someone else’s life.

At the beginning of my Engineering Leadership and Team Building class, we took a personality assessment derived from the Myers-Briggs 16 personality traits. This assessment was essentially a personality test that indicates which personality type you most likely fall under. The categories are: Introversion(I)/Extraversion(E), Sensing(S)/Intuition(N), Thinking(T)/Feeling(F), and Judging(J)/Perception(P). You can have a combination of any of those traits, thus giving you a generalized personality type. Before I took the assessment, I knew I was an ISTJ. After taking it again, I still was an ISTJ, so that tells me I’m consistent!

I thought the approach of incorporating personality types into leadership was very interesting. While being a leader is great, it comes with some caveats, such as internal conflict with other leaders. Personalities have a huge impact on the collaboration with others, especially in leadership roles. If two people’s personalities clash too much, it can become extremely difficult to work with each other. During my group projects, I noticed early on that one of my group members and my personalities clashed. They clashed so much to a point where we disagreed on almost everything.

Luckily, we were able to acknowledge our differences, and still work together to turn in the utmost exceptional work. Our third group member was typically the person in the middle, so having them be able to help us come to a common ground when in disagreement was extremely beneficial. I believe their personality type played a significant role in how great they were at staying neutral. Disagreement is unavoidable in the workplace. However, I learned how to pay attention to personality traits and learn about the people I was working with first. This was definitely helpful in the long run! 

Overall, I feel like leadership can be looked at through many different lenses.

Whether it’s through personalities, mentorships, tutoring, or even something as simple as being an older sibling. There are many qualities to take into account when defining leadership. Some of which I learned in class, and others from personal experiences. So now I urge you to ask yourself: what’s your definition of leadership and how do you have leadership qualities?