Tuesday, 7 October 2014

"Can Leadership Be Taught?" And Other Questions That You Have When Meeting a Former Prime Minister

Read, sleep, work, sleep, study for exam, don’t sleep, weekend, sleep a lot, then repeat. 

Lately, this feels like my life. So anytime I get the opportunity to do something absolutely out of the ordinary, like say, interview a former Prime Minister of Canada, who just so happens to be the first and only (thus far) female Prime Minister in Canada’s HIStory, I get totally stoked! And then I get totally nervous. 

Granted it was only a 30 minute change to my weekly routine, I still couldn’t believe how excited and how nervous I was days prior to the interview. I literally lost sleep over it!  How would I react to meeting The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, PC, CC, OBC, QC? Would  I speak before thinking (which actually happens a lot)? Would she like my questions? Would she like me?! What would I possibly contribute to this interview? Could I fail?  Would I be ready? 

Ironically, I realized that my once-in-a-lifetime concerns about interviewing a prime minister(because lets be real, that probably won’t happen again) are actually pretty similar to the various concerns that many students face on a daily basis. As university students we are constantly working towards something.—towards the end of midterm season, towards our convocation, towards a career, towards a life outside of university, towards a better future. In more ways than I can even imagine, in more fields than I even know possible, we will become the leaders of our own tomorrow.  So what can we possibly contribute? What if we fail? What if we’re not ready? 


Can Leadership Be Taught?

When I finally met Ms. Campbell and sat down to interview her, all of these questions were still swirling around in my head. And while speaking with Ms. Campbell, I quickly realized that that she has thought about these very same questions too. She knows that we ask these questions of ourselves and she knows that university grads, regardless of their program, “are often seen to be automatically capable of leadership” positions. 

So what can we, as current university students, do with that knowledge?

“I think in asking “can leadership be taught?”  it  helps us to examine the experiences that students have now and allows us to try to identify the ways in which students might have their curriculum and their experiences enriched in a way that can meet the growing challenges of leadership.  …  So, if we were going to teach leadership, what would we teach?  And where do we think that perhaps students are not adequately prepared or prepared as fully as they may feel they need to be when they’re out pursuing their lives and careers?”

Now that it’s been a few days and I’ve had some time to reflect, I think that I’ve been able to find some answers to the personal questions that I had before the interview:

I reacted to meeting Ms. Campbell with nervous excitement. I’m fairly certain that I thought before I spoke (at least I don’t remember saying anything too crazy). She seemed to like my questions since she answered them all. Also, I think that she liked me… she smiled and everything when we took a picture together (which is always a good sign). While I obviously contributed questions to the interview, I also contributed my thoughtful listening skills to the interview process which is probably the most important thing that I was able to do while speaking with her. And while you might be asking yourself, “why would that be the most important part?” I think that the answer is a pretty obvious one.

Whether or not we believe we are automatically leaders because of  our privileged position as university students or whether we feel ready to lead or not, we must appreciate important leaders like Ms. Kim Campbell who seek to explore  and expand on the question “Can Leadership Be Taught?” It’s a pretty important question to ask and consider.

And if a former Prime Minister is willing to ask this question, then why wouldn’t you ask it too? Yes, you! You fellow student might be the most important person to ask this question. Exploring the answer (or, answers), might even help you answer those questions that we all face eventually: What can we possibly contribute to our community? What if we fail? What if we’re not ready? 

So, can leadership be taught? Where could this question take you?
You should probably go to her lecture this Thursday and find out. 

Can Leadership Be Taught Public Lecture

Can Leadership Be Taught?” October 9th, from 4:30 -5:30pm in room 150 Telus Centre.

----About the Author


Howdy. I’m Jobey-- a fourth (+2) year BA student studying Spanish Language and Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, but if I had to choose, I would probably say Shakira because her hips don’t lie. And honesty is important to me. 

I have two obsessions that keep my heart perpetually pleased and my bank account endlessly empty: shoes and travel.  To date, I have visited 14 countries (studied in three!) and I own more shoes than I care to publicly admit. 

I am totally stoked to be a member of the 2014 YouAlberta Blogging team! I hope that my unique educational experiences will help me find and highlight all of the fascinating students we have on campus.  Be advised: If you’re out there and you’re awesome, I will find you. And we will talk!  :) 

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