Ask Tim

Choosing Leadership

Executive Director Tim Lawrence has known SkillsUSA as a student member, instructor, industry partner and state director. Got a question? He can help.

Q: What advice do you give students who aspire to be leaders?

Tim: Leadership is a choice. Actually, it’s lots of small decisions along the way: raising your hand in class, volunteering for a service project, running for office, or stepping up to express your ideas. All allow you to practice leadership skills.

Leadership can be the simple choice to accept responsibility. In this issue of SkillsUSA Champions, the national student president of our high school division says it best, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept situations as they exist, or to accept the responsibility to change them.”

Sometimes, leadership is breaking away from peers whose choices may not be what’s best for you. Other times, leadership is blending in and supporting your teammates to the best of your ability. And, leadership can actually be about following, as you step back to let others lead the way while you observe, coach and mentor.

Pay close attention to the stories in this magazine, which speak to many facets of leadership. You’ll learn how numerous individuals overcame their personal circumstances to serve and improve the lives of others. That’s what leaders do. You see, leadership comes not only from the head, but also from the heart.

In my personal experience, true leaders are people of passion. You’ve got to be passionate and enthusiastic about something before you can lead it. And, you must be able to articulate your passion and your beliefs if you’re going to convince others to follow you. So, communication skills are a vital component of leadership.

That’s why SkillsUSA is so critical if you aspire to be a leader. If you truly get involved, SkillsUSA offers you a variety of programs, activities and opportunities to practice your leadership skills.

As I encounter leaders in business and industry, I find that these individuals all possess one very strong quality: that of effective communication. They can communicate well in writing as well as verbally, and they know how to articulate or sell a concept. Combining your passion with solid communication skills is a powerful leadership strategy.

A great quote from one of my favorite recent movies comes from Batman Begins: “It’s not who we are, but what we do, that defines us.” I hope you understand that leadership is a choice, and everything that you do will define your ability to be a leader. End of story

Got questions about SkillsUSA or other topics? E-mail or send a letter to SkillsUSA / P.O. Box 3000 / Leesburg, VA 20177. Put “Ask Tim” in the subject line or mail address.

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SkillsUSA Champions | Spring 2006 | Volume 40, No. 3
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