Published: 16th September 2023
Coach Calling: With campus elections around the corner, here's how you can be a true leader
It is important to set realistic goals and to identify key issues at the grassroot levels before starting the campaign
Hey beautiful people! Delhi University is going to conduct its campus elections after four years. In this world of non-issues and excess information, it's quite a challenge to figure out how to stay focussed on the real issues and bring them to light, especially as a leader, for people to see. Hence I decided that we'll slay this topic for this week.
When universities across the globe hold their campus elections, aspiring student leaders seize the opportunity to step into the spotlight, armed with aspirations and visions. However, it's also not easy when real issues and challenges that affect students often take a back seat to make way for catchy slogans and flashy campaign posters. The need of the hour is to break through this cycle of superficiality, pretentiousness and truly make an impact! So today, let's explore some innovative strategies that go above and beyond the conventional playbook.
The campus election conundrum
It's quite easy to prepare a manifesto and come up with a list of promises. But, upholding the same is where the challenge arises and if you're not adhering to what's been promised, forget the lack of integrity that you're exhibiting, letting down those who believed in you is something that's just not easy to digest. Hence the first step is to set REALISTIC GOALS and only then promise the same.
Keep your ears to the ground
It is important to identify key issues at the grassroot levels. This is where keeping your ears to the ground helps. If you too have experienced issues, that doesn't make you an expert, simply because perspective matters and what you're facing might not necessarily be what others are facing. It might be because of a lot of dynamic factors and hence, all I'm trying to say is that even if it's the same issue, it's of utmost importance that you still understand how it is affecting others, by putting yourself in their shoes. Once you're able to gather this data, it becomes easy to formulate strategies to address them.
You have two ears and one mouth... Because god wants us to LISTEN
There's a big difference between hearing and listening. If you have to understand the real issues and their impact, just keeping your ears to the ground won't suffice. You need to be able to listen and understand them in depth. The point I'm trying to make here is about developing a CLEAR COMMUNICATION strategy that not only enables you to listen and gather the required inputs but also to be able to spread the message effectively. You need to be able craft messages that are clear and concise about your stance on the issues that you're planning to address. Be a word pundit and leverage the potential of social media, flyers on campus and other modes of visual communication to your advantage.
Don't just engage, involve
Engaging with your audience is like fuel to an engine. If you don't engage, you just can't move an inch towards your goal. What's even more important is to involve, which requires at least ten times more effort. To be able to understand issues in depth and get a clear understanding on how to address them, you need to attend discussions, debates, interactions, join all the groups and even go the extra mile by getting to know the popular hangouts and listen to issues directly from the horse's mouth.
What's heavy is what needs to be lifted first
PRIORITISE. That's the mantra! Not all issues carry the same weight. The reason I stress upon the above is simply because covering those bases here enables you to understand what's important and needs to be addressed first. Use the above to prioritise and address those issues that have the most significant impact on the lives of students. That's what will make you the true hero that everyone wants and will in turn result in the outcomes that you truly deserve.
Be a beautiful glass sculpture, not an opaque wall
The message I'm trying to hint at using this metaphor is about being transparent. Make transparency your most important mantra or rather the foundation of your whole agenda. That's what most leaders lack and that's what most people preach but rarely practice.
This is something that people appreciate and not just that, when they feel that they can trust you and can see everything clearly, your stakeholders' involvement becomes natural, as they not only feel connected but also develop a sense of belongingness. This is quite a challenge even for the best leaders to achieve and if you are able to achieve this, half your battle is won already. Being transparent also makes it quite easy to amplify your message and that in turn, makes your communication more effective and helps in making your message reach more people. Share everything openly with everyone involved and also be very very wary to work on feedback that you receive!
United we stand — colloborate
Collaborating with like minded people who are fighting for the same cause or are voicing out the same concern that you're planning to address will give you an edge. Seeking cooperation from people with shared interests also makes your numbers grow and amplifies the impact of your campaign. May your forces unite!
Divided I fall — never get personal
It's not a given that everyone will share your vibe and you might face a lot of KARENs and CRANKY JOEs who's sole goal in life is to rub you wrong. Don't worry about those who try to rattle your cage as ignorance is bliss, really! In most cases it also is an attempt to push you to react publicly and use the same outburst to work against you. That's politics. So ensure that you refrain from getting personal irrespective of how personal the other person(s) get. Remember what you're fighting for and focus on those who are loyal to you, those who are supporting you and if not anyone else, focus on those lives that have become the reason for your mission!
Be the rock that's impossible to budge
Another important aspect that I'd like to touch upon here is the aspect of being consistent. Apart from those who frustrate you, there shall be more who might oppose you. It is very crucial that you stay consistent and never budge or change your stance on the core issues, beliefs and promises, irrespective of how strong the opposition is. That works wonders and truly inspires those who are in your corner. Or else it makes them question your loyalty, makes them perceive that you're fickle minded and question your decision making skills — the very same skills which are crucial for a leader!
Ethics — the true superpower of a leader
As I sign off, I'd like to emphasise to the strongest level about never compromising on your ethics, moral values and principles. Irrespective of what others around you do, never indulge in spreading misinformation, negative campaigning, getting into a slugfest or resort to dragging any individuals' name in the mud. Stay focused on the issues that you're trying to resolve and never encourage or comment on what others have to say about you. Maintain your dignity and exhibit your integrity in the truest sense. Lead by example and prove how running an ethical and clean campaign is what matters irrespective of whether you win or lose. That's what is TRULY INSPIRING people!
All the very best and let the power of democracy work magic!
Your ethical, principled and moral coach,
Adarsh Benakappa Basavaraj