if you would’ve asked me before YLT what I thought the most important qualities in a leader was I would’ve told you something like charisma, strength, or bravery. While those may be important characteristics, I modeled my understanding of leadership after comic book super-heroes and quarterbacks of my favorite football teams. Fortunately, my journey through YLT showed me that effective leaders possess a multitude of different characteristics and talents, and come from a variety of different backgrounds.
I distinctly remember Public Safety day, where our class spent time putting fires out with firefighters (literally) and hearing the day-to-day challenges of law enforcement officers. There I learned that first responders constantly put the needs of others above themselves and that, to be a successful leader, you have to do be prepared to do that same.
On Government Day, where I was able to have conversations with Tallahassee’s elected officials, I realized that leaders have to be prepared to make difficult decisions on complex problems that don’t always have clear solutions. Also, leaders have to be willing to listen to the desires and needs of others before they can ever lead them effectively.
The list of lessons I learned could go on and on, but through YLT I was able to see first-hand how leaders impact our community every day. While I still don’t have leadership figured out, YLT gave me a foundation to stand on so I could grow into the leader I am today. Not only that, YLT surrounded me with peers from across the city to form relationships with people on the same leadership journey I was. And I’m proud to say, I still regularly talk with other Class 6 members even today.