As an RA, How Can I Develop My Leadership Skills?

As a student staff member you are stepping into a role that allows you to wear many hats. A frequent saying you may hear is the Golden Rule in the realm of Residence Life: You are a student first, then a student staff member second. This means that you should focus on your academic priorities before caring for others in your leadership role. On any given day that you are wearing your student hat, you are an active listener and critical thinker. When you are wearing the RA hat, you serve as a mentor, a problem solver, and a community builder. However, perhaps we should make an amendment to that golden rule. Let’s call it the Green Rule, symbolizing growth: You are a HUMAN first, a student second, and a RA third. 

Leaderhip meme with Yoda

Being a human means being vulnerable, knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and prioritizing one’s needs. Being a human means you have an awareness of what you need to do to improve yourself and intentionally taking some time to work on those areas of growth. In the spirit of prioritizing growth and focusing on being human, the following activity will focus on your development of leadership skills. Focusing on your leadership skills will help you grow as a human, student, and staff member!

Take a look at this Leadership Skills Word Bank:

VisionFlexibilityTime Management
AdaptabilityProblem-SolvingRespecting Diversity
EmpathyApproachabilityAdaptive Learning
DecisivenessStrong Work EthicGoal-Oriented
ResilienceEmpowering OthersRespecting Feedback
HumilityHonestyGrowth Mindset
CommunicationActive ListeningCultural Awareness
Strategic ThinkingMentorshipPositive Attitude
Open MindednessConflict Resolution SkillsCreativity

All of these skills are important for you personally and professionally, but for now, let’s focus on the skills that you already possess. 

Choose 5 leadership skills from the Word Bank and think about what each of those leadership skills means to you. Then, reflect the following question:

  • How have I utilized these 5 skills in my past experiences?

Next, choose 3 leadership skills that you think you will develop this year for the betterment of you as a human, student, and staff member. For example, maybe you currently struggle with conflict resolution skills in your personal life. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I foresee my staff role developing these skills? 
  • What do I need to do to actively work on building these skills?

These questions are essential to reflect on, as self-awareness on your leadership strengths can help you identify how you are growing and contributing to your team!

Although the student staff role is very important to the community development of your residents, it is also extremely valuable to reflect on how your personal growth will be impacted by the role. Being in a leadership role not only allows you to serve the community, but it also allows you to serve yourself as you face challenges, have fun, and engage in learning and growth.

Reflection Questions:

  • What leadership skills do you currently possess?
  • What leadership skills do you want to develop?
  • What does it mean to be HUMAN to you and how do you foresee that impacting your leadership skill development?

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