Off the Beaten Path: Holistic Pathways to Grow into Leadership

June 27, 2023

Alyssa Jackson

M.Ed. in Health and Wellness Education

Photo of a professional

Let’s talk about the commonalities between parents, principals, pastors and presidents.

Although drastically different in personality and title, each of these four roles require some form of leadership. However, leaders are all quite different, using different philosophies to get things done, including transformational, servant and authoritative leadership.

Furthermore, pathways to leadership can be drastically different. Some may have followed the standard college-internship-job road, while others may be tapped for leadership due to decades of experience. 

Your road to a leadership position will look different from someone else’s. However, here are some ways to make your road to leadership as insightful and fulfilling as possible.

  1. Reflect on your own character and how it aligns with the qualities of a leader.

A successful leader has a variety of underlying character traits that support them in their position, including integrity, adaptability, reliability and decisiveness. Reflect with a trusted friend or family member on which traits you exemplify.

  1. Look for smaller leadership roles inside and outside of work.

These opportunities can include coaching sports, serving on the board of a community organization or taking on projects, chair positions and more at work. These low-risk positions will help forge those leadership qualities you may be lacking, all while building up your confidence.

  1. As you work and/or volunteer, decide which leadership style works best for your personality.

As we mentioned in the beginning, every leader will differ in their style. To figure out your own, take note of how you operate when you lead in smaller capacities. Notice your tendencies when talking to your coworkers and peers, and then refer back to the leadership styles we’ve mentioned. But keep in mind that you don’t need to stick rigidly to the tenets of any one style or even stick to the same style in every scenario. Use these styles as a foundational framework and make them your own so that you lead in a way that is both organic and effective.

  1. Intentionally work with a variety of people.

It’s easy to lead a group with a similar mindset, but how do you respond when you work with others who are different from yourself? Quality leadership requires the ability to guide a diverse set of people, so don’t shy away from taking on such opportunities.

  1. Observe and emulate the leaders you respect and admire.

As you reflect on the qualities of people in leadership, begin emulating some of their mannerisms and techniques. Do you appreciate your boss’ encouragement? Then practice giving support to your family and friends. Do you notice your parents’ open and respectful communication? Then consider how to show both respect and honesty to your coworkers. These opportunities are plentiful, and with them you can begin to build up your leadership qualities.

Strong leadership skills aren’t achieved immediately, but each day holds another chance to grow as an individual, team member and leader. By following these steps, you can build a solid foundation of skills and character to support you in your journey into leadership.

American College of Education has a variety of programs to enhance your leadership no matter where you are in your career. Learn more here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Alyssa Jackson
Alyssa Jackson, M.Ed. in Health and Wellness Education

Alyssa is a nutrition educator with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program through NC State University in North Carolina. She recently completed her M.Ed in Health and Wellness Education at ACE.

Read all articles
Share this:
  • X
  • LinkedIn
Close Chat