Learning to be a Leader: It Starts Within

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy


When was the last time that you sat down and thought about what it takes to be a leader, or took the time to learn new concepts related to strengthening your leadership skills?


I know for me personally, that answer was essentially never prior to completing the leadership program at KWSM: a digital marketing agency. This 12-week program guided myself and my classmates through big-picture leadership concepts on everything from embracing change to setting leadership goals. 


We were able to meet weekly with KWSM President (and leadership pro) Katie Wagner to guide us through twelve different leadership concepts and open-forum style discussions that encompassed all of these leadership topics. To supplement, we took in podcasts and TED talks also related to leadership from thought leaders

On a green background, "Management is doing the things right; Leadership is doing the right things," appears in wood block letters.
While managers earn their title, through actions and ongoing education leaders earn respect from within the organization with or without the power the title “manager” holds.

Leadership is Different for Women

One of the most unique and rewarding aspects of the program is that it was led by a woman, for an all-female group of colleagues. Pew Research Center has reported over the years how men have a better shot at becoming organizational leaders and naturally get more exposure to the skills that most leaders have. 


Setting aside time weekly to discuss as a group of women our personal experiences thus far in our careers with good and bad leaders, good and bad managers, and our own leadership challenges allowed us to think about these big-picture leadership concepts in ways that directly applied to our own lives and careers. 

Key Takeaways

One of the biggest takeaways is that leadership starts from within ourselves. This concept may seem simple, but those who don’t have role, or title-based, power within an organization often don’t recognize that we can – and should – be leaders


We demonstrated this idea that leadership begins within by crafting personal vision statements week one that we reviewed each day for the duration of the program. These vision statements helped us get in the mindset of being leaders within KWSM and our personal lives as well. 


Since leadership is 70 percent learned skills and acquired experiences, the program guided us through the skills we should be thinking about on a regular basis to grow our leadership experience. By mentally reviewing my personal vision statement daily and having the chance to implement leadership skills in weekly meetings with clients, I can tell even in this short amount of time how much my leadership skill set has grown. 


Above all else, it is essential to understand that leadership is not a position or title, it is the actions you take and the example you set. Being a strong leader means that you’ll need to step up to the plate and take on the responsibility to continually learn about leadership concepts and work to implement them in all aspects of your life. 


The Importance of Corporate Philanthropy83% of organizations say it is important to develop leaders at all levels.


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Jessica is an experienced Digital Marketing Specialist who has worked primarily in the hospitality, entertainment, and food & beverage industries. Outside of work, Jessica loves animals, staying active, and is a self-proclaimed foodie.