Written by Tyler Nicholson, Service-Learning Street Team member
Being a successful leader is a skill that requires practice, effort and the ability to communicate and articulate effectively. When making a decision as a leader, it is important to consider the context of the situation: who are you working with? What are you looking to do and/or accomplish? and why are you the leader of this particular group or movement?
One of the hardest leadership roles to manage is one where you are leading your peers. You must be aware of age, role in the company/organization, and often personal relationships, while remaining professional and in control of the situation.
Here are some of my tips for how to effectively lead your peers, gathered from my experience in Service-Learning here at Northeastern.
Acknowledge that they are your peers!
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when taking on a leadership role among your peers is acting as if they are not your peers! Acknowledge to both them, and yourself, that there is a similarity in position and age. You might not be their leader because you are their elder, but you are likely leading based on a set of experiences, professional or personal, that make you a good fit to lead towards your collective goals.
Establish a rapport
As in all leadership positions, establishing a rapport is a crucial aspect in guiding the development of effective communication with those you are leading. Establishing a rapport with your peers may seem easy at a glance, but it can actually be difficult to maintain professionalism and respect when working with people that are similar in age or position to you. When establishing a rapport with your peers, it is important to keep this in the back of your mind and be cognizant of when you need to re-route conversation or re-establish boundaries to ensure that everyone remains focused and successful.
Be aware of their goals
This goes hand in hand with successfully establishing a rapport. As a leader, especially of your peers, it is important to be aware of what their goals/drives are, and to keep them in mind as you make decisions. Often, your peers’ goals might be very similar to yours, which can make for a great group effort or push. However, don’t assume that everyone’s goal or reasoning is the same as your own. Among your peers, there are likely to be varying thoughts and drives and it is important to keep that in the front of your mind!