Hot Topic: Preparing Future Leaders

Jessica Nayes, FY09 RCNE

Leadership… so many seminars and conferences try to nail this concept down, but it’s not always so easy! The best way to become a good leader will vary from person to person, but even if it’s not a talent to which you feel naturally inclined there are definitely resources through SWE that can help you along the way. For this month’s Hot Topic article, I’ll touch on a few of these, but know that this is definitely not a complete list! 

Holding a Position in SWE

For collegiates, their first experience with SWE is often on the local level, interacting within a local SWE section lead by a team of officers. These officers hold important positions that -you guessed it- are great for developing your leadership skills! In local student organizations, you have the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of ways. Many skills will be used to pull together any event: requesting financial support from industry, planning and leading a meeting, advertising an event, working with other groups, putting together a presentation, designing merchandise, shopping for food and supplies, tracking member participation, managing an officer team, recognizing and rewarding outstanding members, traveling with a group, collecting many different points of view and making decisions, and many more…

Not only does developing these skills help out your section, it can also be a strong talking point in an interview for your next position! I’d encourage all to take a chance at being an officer in your local sections- you’ll discover talents you didn’t know you had and help develop your section!

But leadership does not end on the local level- there’s a whole national organization of SWE you can be a part of- serving on a committee, representing your region (like your RCNE and RCRs), and on up to the top. Elections for RCR/RCNE just happened but keep your eyes out for other options too.

Collegiate Leadership Coaching

Where can you get FREE training for your section or officers? Collegiate Leadership Coaching sessions! I think the national SWE website puts it best:

“The Leadership Coaching Committee is a pilot program to provide proactive leadership coaching to sections. Trained Leadership Coaches will provide coaching and support the development of our leadership and management skills at the section level. Training modules have been developed on topics that are essential to maintaining a vital section. Trained Leadership Coaches will take this training out to the section level and also conduct training at Region Conferences. The training modules can also be used for other purposes such as a section meeting or retreat. This Committee is needed to support our membership and enhance program participation at the section level. The section is the key component to SWE. We need healthy local sections to survive and thrive as an organization. This effort is to help the local section become more vital.” –Leadership Coaching Committee page

This year’s Collegiate Leadership Coach (CLC) head chair is Melissa Zaczek. (Look her up online: SWE > Member Data Services > On-line Directory).

SWE Leadership Pipeline

Elizabeth  Bierman, FY09 Region H Governor

To support SWE’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy, regions are being challenged to take the ownership of building a SWE leadership pipeline, which is a long-term effort. SWE has many membership recruiting and retention programs in place already. However, we need to do a better job in succession planning and leadership development. A task force was created this FY to is to define the leadership pipeline goals and the processes for identifying and developing SWE leaders. The leadership development effort includes developing, mentoring, and tracking the progress of high potential SWE leaders. To make the leadership pipeline effort successful, it requires the participation and support of many SWE leaders. It also needs the SWE leadership advisory group, national nominating committee, and regional nominating committees to facilitate the effort. Look for more information in SWE News and from the Region Leadership on how you can get into the pipeline!!

Closing Notes and Quotes

  • Check out the bios on the Region Collegiate Team page to see where your current Region H leaders have been in SWE Leadership. Don’t stop there! Ask your local section officers and other inspiring figures how they got where they are now too.
  • Transitioning leadership did not get a main heading in this article, but remember that preparing for a transition is critical to the successor’s success!
  • The bottom line in preparing future leaders: encourage them to try in the first place, and support them along the way. Experience is the best teacher!
  • “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” -Aldous Huxley, Texts and Pretexts
  • “He who is to be ruler must have first been ruled.” -Aristotle, Politics
  • “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on.” -Walter Lippmann, in New York Herald Tribune
  • “The person who knows ‘how’ will always have a job. The person who knows ‘why’ will always be his boss.” -Diane Ravitch, speech (1985)
  • “I would tell young people to start where they are with what they have and that the secret of a big success is starting with a small success and dreaming bigger and bigger dreams” -John H. Johnson
  • “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.” -Faith Whittlesey
  • “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” -J. K. Rowling

Comments, more quotes, suggestions for others? Leave a comment on this article!


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