What has MIT taught you about leadership? This is not an idle question for the Institute—or for you, I hope—and it’s one that has been much on my mind this January.
I have two strong beliefs about helping MIT students develop confidence and skills as leaders. First, I am willing to bet that after you leave this place you will find that colleagues, co-workers, and even strangers expect you to be a leader simply because you studied here. More and more the solutions to the world’s most intractable problems, from energy and climate change to poverty and health, require the knowledge and skills that are at the core of your MIT education: a broad understanding of science and technology, a mastery of interdisciplinary problem solving, a deep capacity for innovative thinking.
Students at MIT tell me that sometimes they look around and wonder whether they stack up with their peers. After you’ve graduated, however, don’t be surprised when you find people looking to you for leadership even if you are not specifically “the leader.” This expectation can feel like both an opportunity and a burden. Fortunately, my second belief is that leadership can be developed—and at MIT there are infinite opportunities outside the classroom to hone the skills that will make you an effective leader.
This month, I have seen many opportunities across the campus to learn about leadership:
These are just a few examples, but there are countless other opportunities to learn or to put leadership into practice. Learn how to network at Charm School. Explore a traditional position in student government, as an officer in a club, or as the captain of a sports team. Or learn through working with others on a group project, such as by joining a Global Challenge team or another project through the Public Service Center.
While I encourage you to embrace these opportunities, you can also help MIT understand how to evolve and enhance leadership development by answering the question I started with: what has MIT taught you about leadership? At the start of the semester, you’ll receive a request to participate in a broad survey on leadership at MIT. Lead the way for leadership by letting us know what you think. What you tell us about your experience will help us understand what MIT can do to help every student prepare for a life of leadership.
Dean for Student Life
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