My name is Ian Roth and as I write this I am the current In-Studio producer of MUTV. Next semester (my second to last at Millersville University) that will not be the case. While I am still in a position to do so I thought I would share my thoughts on what it means and what it takes to be a good leader. As is tradition and procedure, new leadership is brought forward every two semesters in MUTV, and I figured what better time to give sound advice than now? What I’m about to outline can make anyone a respectable leader in any facet of life or their career, at least in my own opinion.
Of course, no person can be considered ready, deserving, qualified, or credible without the right experiences. I like to think that I have held my fair share of them, especially for only just turning 21 years of age. Before I even entered high school I was named to the Student Team Building Youth Leadership Experience program. Only a handful of my peers and I were hand-selected by a board of teachers from several school districts that encompassed nearly five thousand students. I was the youngest elected official of the Pastor-Parish Relations committee and the youngest member of my church awarded Member of the Year in a congregation that has been around since before Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States. I am the head lifeguard at the pool in which I work back home. I may joke about it from time to time, but the reality of the situation is that every life that walks into my community center is a responsibility of mine, no matter who they are. Some of you may not know that I was also a captain of my high school’s swim team. A fine group of thirty-six men who didn’t always get along, but as a team almost never lost. However, many of you reading this do recall most of my recent exploits. I’m a proud producer and creator of the wonderful show Geek Speek. As I previously mentioned I also hold the title of In-Studio producer, and will peacefully give that title over to my predecessor next semester. In short, I’m well aware of what a team is and how to not only make one, but how to keep one untroubled.
Enough of my credentials, let’s discuss what they’ve taught me and what I hope I can teach to you. To begin with an oxymoron, a leader is a servant. In other words, a leader is merely the voice of the people he or she represents. They do not do things on their own accord, rather a leader polls the people and asks for their opinion. In order to please the group you represent decisions should be made first by the people, not by the leader. Your opinion is merely a voice amongst dozens. To be respected in a position of power, I have found it is much more effective to believe you are no better than the people you represent as opposed to putting yourself on a pedestal of greatness. No one person has the power to make all the decisions, and don’t let anyone make you believe that. More power resides in the masses of people that have put their faith in you than what you could imagine.
I also firmly believe a leader has no right to take from the people they represent. There is a nice moment in the critically acclaimed series “Band of Brothers” where two officers are talking to each other about gambling with their platoon. The one claims that he does it all the time while the other shakes his head in disgust. He asks why he would take money from men who are already giving so much to him. Even here, in everyday life, far from the places where we are threatened and in position where no one will be put into danger, a lesson can be learned. If you are deranged enough to take things from people that already give their all to you, you might as well call it quits. With that being said, holding blackmail against members or peers in the group you represent as leverage to push an agenda only you believe in is not only morally wrong, but federally dishonorable. Blackmailing for personal gain is a serious crime and in many states it is treated as a type of extortion or coercion which results in a horrendous twenty year prison sentence.
A leader, irregardless of what type of organization they represent, must put that organization first in everything they do. If you are bold enough to take a position of leadership, you better be prepared to do everything you can for the organization. Not showing up to events held by your organization, whether they are simply ordinary meetings or national events, is absolutely inexcusable. Your personal accountability comes into question when you fail to show up to things that you are in charge of. Excuses won’t be taken lightly by your peers either, as a leader it’s not only your responsibly to be present, but be the first person there and the last person to leave. Only showing up to things because it just so happens that it is convenient for you or because it is mediatory is a miserable way to show how much you really care.
That leads into my next point, a leader will go to ends unthinkable by the common person to make sure that they have done all they could for their organization. Every possible resource must be used in order to make the right and just decision on anything. A leader that tells you that they’ve done all they could for a situation is a reprehensible liar. There is always a way to fix problems; some may be simple solutions, some may force you to think, some may force you to go outside your comfort zone, and some may just force you to do things you personally don’t believe in. But, as I already mentioned, all of those things must be put aside for the people you were chosen to lead. They deserve that, if not anything else. Don’t let someone bully you into making a decision you don’t want to make even though they might have a personal issue you know is immoral.
Finally, and probably most importantly, a leader should make all his or her decisions using reasoning, honesty, logic, a cool head, and without bias. Leaders do not act on impulse, out of revenge, or on personal accord. There a greater things at stake than the slim stroke of power that you want to feel when you see the person or people you hurt sitting silently in disappointment. Leadership positions at all levels have no place for things like sexism and favoritism. Agendas like those may have place in petty, small-minded, fruitless, personal issues, but in an official capacity they are unprofessional and make you look like an ignorant clown. Being honest with the people under you can not be overlooked. Lying to faces of people that dedicate precious time and energy is a serious moral integrity dilemma. Things that you say, you must be ready to be held accountable for. If you aren’t ready to face words that come out in something you said out of haste, you can leave.
Over many years of being in a position of and around leaders, I’ve seen some very good individuals and I’ve seen some that are an absolute disgrace to the marvelous groups of people they claim to care about. The least I can hope is that if you took the time to read this, that you might come out more prepared for life in the future. Trust the people around you and that work for you. They are your most important asset. If you are too weak and insecure to trust the individuals that would spend days on end making your organization better, reconsider what you are doing. Leaders can come in all shapes and sizes, colors and genders, and walks of life. They might not always be the people you expect, but they should always be held accountable. Let my experiences help you if you’d be so kind to let them. After all, I’d hate for all of my experiences to go to waste because someone wouldn’t give me the chance.