CONGRATULATIONS 2016 GRADS and ALL FUTURE LUC GRADUATES
CONGRATULATIONS to our new LUC graduates! You are the class of 2016, and what a terrific achievement you have successfully completed. Amidst the time demands of class hours, class assignments, perhaps part-time employment, family responsibilities, friendships, social activities-----and the list could go on and on, you survived! Given all these demands, you have completed a qualification that will bode you very well for the rest of your life.
With your new degree or certification qualification you have gained a new status. In the eyes of the world, you are now educated. And with this elite new status comes a new responsibility. In a word, it is leadership. Your new status makes you a leader in the world---and this applies to all future LUC graduates. Much has been written about management, very little about leadership. A useful synonym for leadership is influence. Sound leadership is not so much achieving and maintaining a position, although that happens, but it is more about being an insightful, informed and intelligent influence on people and on life situations.
Of course leadership is vital to the success of any organization. It is commonly accepted that the success of any society, culture, group activity, business, movement, political system, or even family, rises and falls on leadership. So leadership skills and the ability to influence others will often determine successes in life.
Some insights about leadership skills as influence have been found in the study of cranes. Large Sandhill cranes migrate long distances across countries and continents. These are the cranes seen flying in a "V" formation, one leading and the others flying in the wake. Studies have uncovered three leadership qualities in these cranes on their long journeys: 1) they choose leaders who can handle turbulence, 2) they rotate leadership, and 3) they honk approval affirming whoever is leading. Now, let us apply these findings.
1) As a graduate with leadership influence, you may be called to handle turbulence. In our world, turbulence is disorder, commotion, confusion, instability, or just change. In fact, you will be a change agent. As an educated leader, you may have a vision for a situation, or you may anticipate a problem and see a solution, or understands how to create positive results. As the world rapidly changes, you will be the educated ones who can bring understanding and insight to a situation, who can step up and be a positive influence. Opportunities for leadership may arise because you will understand how to move forward a difficult and stagnant situation. As an educated leader, you may be the person called upon to think through a situation and recommend an informed decision at work, in the family or in the community.
2) As an educated leader, be aware that leadership is often rotated. Being a leader does not mean having the highest pay and the biggest title. Leadership can be far more subtle and influential. And this means having the ability to work with others. An American President, Teddy Roosevelt, stated that, "The most important single ingredient to the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people." The Center for Creative and International Leadership summarized their findings as to why some executive leaders were successful. They found that it was because they were able to admit their mistakes and give credit to others who were right. They also were able to get along with a variety of top leadership and support different leadership styles. They were sensitive and open to the insights and contributions of others.
3) Lastly, as a graduate leader, sometimes it will be vital to affirm another leader to be successful. Affirming another leader is a healthy team attitude. A good attitude in life is when we can see that the success of something is more important than our own status. This priority of task over self requires an attitude of self understanding and self acceptance. We are all called upon at times to be that team player and affirm the leadership of others. And a healthy team attitude is a powerful subtle leadership influence on other team members. There is an old Chinese poem along these lines:
Go to the people, Live among them.
Learn from them, love them.
Start with what they know,
Build on what they have.
But of the best leaders,
When their task is accomplished,
Their works done,
The people will remark, "We have done it ourselves."
A person who lived these leadership traits was President Abraham Lincoln, the name sake of our university. He was elected President during the turbulent times of a civil war. He carefully chose cabinet members and always listened to their insights, admitting when he was wrong. And it was his attitude that helped him leave the log cabin of his birth to educate himself and become a successful lawyer.
So once again, congratulations to the 2016 graduates, and to all future LUC graduates. Always remember LUC as the place that gave you---and is giving you---a new status in the world, that of an influential leader.
Prof. Dr. Norman Madsen,
Deputy Vice Chancellor, International Affairs
Lincoln University College