Peer-to-Peer Leadership

College is a unique place where the number of leadership opportunities is insurmountable. Further, most of the leadership opportunities available are among peers. This presents something of an interesting situation because leading one’s peers is not always the easiest thing to do. So here is a list of tips that I have collected over several years of leadership opportunities that helps me lead peers effectively.

Never take criticism personally. The answer should always be: “Yes, I will think about that.”

Naturally, with any leadership position, you will receive some criticism. Often times, especially when those critics are your peers, it is hard not to take criticism personally. It is important to understand that, coming from a trusted critic, criticism is not a character judgment on you. In fact, some criticisms you receive may relate to situations that are out of your control. In those situations, the criticism simply has to be passed on to the powers that be.

It is also important to make sure that your peers know that their opinion is being heard.  So the answer to criticism should always be: “Yes, I will think about that.” It is important that everyone involved feels that they and by extension, their opinions, are respected, even if they end up being unfounded. This also allows everyone to take a step back and evaluate the situation. In contrast, immediately responding to criticism often doesn’t give you enough time to consider a respectful response, positive or negative.

People listen to feet washers.

Feet washers are people who serve others with humility. This is important in any leadership context, however, when leading one’s peers, humility is of paramount importance. Leadership will always be better received when people know that their leader is there to humbly serve them. Just look at Jesus and his disciples. While it isn’t always literal feet washing, humble service brings down a leader from above his or her peers to parallel with them.

Never ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.

Like being a humble servant, not asking people to do things that you wouldn’t do brings you down to their level. There are a lot of tasks to be done, whether leading an organization, a group project, or even a ministry. It is important that those who follow understand that their leader isn’t asking something of them solely because they are unwilling to do it.

Always err on the side of grace.

Grace is endless; Jesus taught us that. Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, including leaders. So it is important to lead anyone, especially peers, with grace. Leaders aren’t here to judge, only to redirect when needed. Leading with grace paves the way for trust and respect on levels that are unmatched. When faced with a tough situation, it is best to ask yourself, “How can I show grace in this situation?” Not simply because it builds trust and shows care, but because that is what Christ would do.

These are just four of the tips I have picked up along the way while leading my peers. They aren’t clear-cut, and they look different for everyone. However, I hope they help you in your peer-to-peer leadership roles.

UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest, and offers a wide variety of leadership opportunities for students. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more.