Leadership 101

Author: Ruhmaa Bhatti

The first thing I was told at CFES Congress 2017 was take advantage of this opportunity, keep an open mind, and learn from others. The second thing I was told was to make sure I got a lot of rare patches to trade. The Canadian Federation of Engineering Students provide many services in forms of events and conferences throughout the year. Member schools across the nation come together in order to give the VP of External Affairs from their school a chance to discuss the CFES mission and situations effecting the undergraduate engineering education in Canada. Delegates (that's me!) attend sessions and show off school pride by wearing and sharing swag. While the patch-trading, charity bids for mascots/jerseys/coveralls, and nightly outings to show off our beautiful city of London were all experiences I enjoyed, I gained the most from speaking and discussing with students in sessions. The session I'd like to elaborate on was called "Leadership 101". I have paraphrased the most important points of this session in a 7 step process of leadership:

1) Have a frame of delegated authority and tasks.
This allows everyone to understand who's accountable for whom and avoids 'double-dipping tasks, e.g. two people working on A but no one has done part B.

2) Generate an engaging and challenging environment.
Don't low ball people, give them meaningful tasks. Show them how it fits in the bigger picture to ensure they understand why it's important to get done.

3) Effective communication.
Don't assume everyone knows what is expected of them. Explain what results you'd like to see and, depending on the individual, provide loose or tight guidelines accordingly. 

4) Delegate with full confidence.
Create motivation by providing 'self' confidence. Use phrases such as "I trust you to do this"

5) Gain loyalty and give it in return.
Have their back as the team reflects the leader so success may fall on you but so does failure. Build trust within your team.

6) Don't undermine expectations
Be prepared to give and support your ideas. Be an example, i.e. complete your job to their expectations

7) Praise where deserved and iterate where necessary
Acknowledge work done, recognizing an individual by saying thank you (in front of the rest of the group or not) can go a long way. Keep them accountable but remember the frame of delegation so do not micromanage.

Even with the ample leadership opportunities I've been through in the first 20 years of my life, I can proudly say CFES catered to student leaders in a way I have never been involved with before. I strongly urge Western students to get out of their bubble, learn about the best practices at other schools, and aid the growth and improvement of their very own undergraduate experience! Please don't hesitate to speak to me if you're unsure about how to find that open mind state or if you'd like to know more about the other sessions at Congress 2017.