One of the best theories of how leadership should function is the Relational Leadership Model. Personally, I am still trying to better understand the intricacies of the five components of the model – purpose, inclusivity, empowerment, ethics, and process – but I believe I understand how the parts are supposed to harmonize as a whole. I think the element that I have the most control over is purpose, the practice of internalizing motivation to complete a goal, because I am very good at finding personal motivation to complete various tasks at hand, and I can also avoid committing to things that I will end up being unmotivated to complete. My whole life, I have thrown myself head first into one task or another and stuck with it to the bitter end – whether it was recreational, academic, or extracurricular. I also believe that I am very good at inclusivity, which necessitates involving all members of a group, along with their ideas and viewpoints. This is a skill that I have had to master, as someone interested in politics. Though it’s not always necessary to agree with your opponents and peers in the political arena, it is necessary to be able to find common ground where it exists – like Senator Ted Cruz and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were able to do on the issue of banning congresspersons from becoming lobbyists. As I gain more experience as a leader, I hope that I can replicate such success as an inclusive leader by listening to the ideas of all of my peers and capitalizing on them where we hold common interests.
Additionally, I perceive myself to be talented at empowering all members of a group by making sure all voices feel included in the conversation, instead of simply being present. For example, in high school, I led my school’s chapter of High School Democrats, and made sure that it wasn’t only leadership speaking at every meeting. I always ensured there were time for members to ask questions, make comments, and speak about their own concerns so that myself and other members of the executive board could better understand the needs of our membership. I am also proficient in being an ethical leader, consistently following the processes prescribed to me to fulfill a goal or complete an assignment. I believe that one of the best ways to lead is to know when to follow, and not stake out your own path for the sake of being a trailblazer. The best example I can think of pertaining to how I have lived this component is by being a good listener, and asking “what can I do for you?” when a friend is struggling, instead of forcing advice upon them that may be unwarranted. Finally, I believe that I am good at devising processes in how I lead – it’s actually a rather simple thing to do. When I mentioned earlier that I started my school’s chapter of High School Democrats, it didn’t just appear out of thin air – it took weeks of talking to school administrators, teachers, peers, local Democratic elected officials, and even my family to make it happen. Following an orderly process is one of the most critical ways to lead to create positive change, because without that practice, there would just be chaos.
The service action proposal is only going to help me hone my mastery of the relational leadership model. As of right now, I am planning to speak with community leaders back home, in Huntersville, to see what it would take to help combat poverty and other structural inequalities in my own backyard. Doing this would require that I be able to listen to those who know better than me, communicate with those who have different ideas about how to create change, and comply with ethical and legal standards on how to assist the disadvantaged. My membership in the Impact Leadership Village is also going to be very influential in perfecting my leadership philosophy, as I am going to be living with dozens of other skilled leaders for the next year. It will be important for me to be to empower my peers and respect their ideas as we all work towards the common purpose of becoming better leaders by following the relational leadership model.