Student Voices: From Follower to Leader | Work of Arts
Student Voices: From Follower to Leader | Work of Arts

Student Voices: From Follower to Leader

As the new lead of the Arts Leadership Cohort, student Collins Maina discusses the transition from participant to leader and the “baby steps” he took along the way.

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.

Leadership is easily one of the most sought-after skills in today’s world. It leads to secondary skills, such as communication and organization skills, or more inspirational, innovative and charismatic skills, which come together to create this energy and ability to influence or guide others in one’s community.

However, to some extent, it can be argued that leadership is a developed skill, not one that we are born with. So just like anything else that needs to be refined, leadership comes with additional “baggage” — patience, determination, perseverance, a “stick with it” attitude and, most of all, hard work. Gaining leadership skills is a lifelong process and one can never gain 100 per cent skill in leadership; however, with experience and enthusiasm, one can earn the “good leader” badge.

Last year I came to Canada as a first year international student, and nothing could hold me back. I had passion, drive and determination; I had naivety on my side too, and I knew I could change the world. I lived (and still do) in residence at Lister Centre, and the experiences and skills gained from my time as a member of the Arts Leadership Cohort gave me that extra push to uncap my potential. My formal skills (such as organization and communication) grew exponentially from volunteering and fundraising, but what I didn’t realize was that my passion, inspiration and determination were also subconsciously developing.

I am currently in my second year and part of the Arts Leadership Cohort again, not only as a member but as the leader of the cohort. Completing my first semester as the programmer for the cohort has made me realize my passion. I am where I need to be, at this moment in my life.

Leadership shouldn’t be seen as achieving the impossible, but as taking baby steps to achieve the most of what is possible. In my high school years, a keynote speaker at one of the leadership conferences I had attended made a statement that soon became my mantra: “lead from within, not from how people think you should lead.” This quickly became my theme and still guides me to self-realization.

Passion in leading

Compared to Barack Obama, I would be considerably inadequate as a leader. But it doesn’t take a world-renowned leader to recognize that passion evolves into drive and is ultimately ingrained in character and charisma. If you find what you love, you will ultimately place more energy into it, increasing your chances of success.

Attitude to learn

The ability to learn is mankind’s best asset; it makes us adaptable to any situation. Leadership requires positivity. We do not know everything and just as I learnt a lot in my first year as part of the Arts Leadership Cohort, leadership is all about learning, developing and correcting intrinsic and extrinsic traits. A positive attitude could change the world, or at the least, it could change your world.

Personal Growth

To gain leadership skills is to know oneself. To know oneself requires self-awareness and an ability to see how your positive or negative actions affect or influence others. Reflection is the key to realizing these traits. Everyone has different reflection methods. I personally write because that is one of my passions and outlets — a win-win situation in my books.

Leadership is not a giant mountain to climb, but is just one of those races that contain several hurdles. It does not need to be made up of great acts because even small acts can help you develop leadership skills. Some think that there is a point where you are a certified “leader,” but I think that there is always more to learn and more to develop. I believe more in the notion of gaining leadership.


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About Collins Maina

Collins Maina

Collins Maina is the cohort leader/ programmer on the Arts Leadership Cohort in the Lister Centre residence. He is currently undertaking his double major undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science. Collins lived on the cohort last year, which is what inspired him to take the lead and become the programmer on the floor this year. He gained a lot of valuable experiences and lessons through his involvement, something he is sure will be strongly present this year too, and he would like to share these experiences as his journey on this specialty floor carries on. Collins is a firm believer that everyone has a story worth listening to and that life is a series of challenges that we choose to grow from or not. He chooses to grow; thus he looks forward to the upcoming year where he will be working with and studying in the Faculty of Arts.