What It Takes To Be A Leader


McKenzie Canton, Editor-In-Chief, talks about her journey to becoming an effective leader.

It took me a long time to figure out I love leadership positions. Beforehand, there were people in my life that made me feel inferior and small or I sabotaged my own potential by not putting in enough effort. Though there are many reasons as to why I didn’t realize my love of leadership, I now understand the importance of not only honing in on my skills but also how to do it well. 

I’m not close to perfection, but every day I have tried to do better at being a leader. The reason I try to do better and why I put in so much thought and effort is because I’ve been under leaders who don’t care enough about their jobs. This isn’t to bash them, but the truth is that as one of their faithful followers, I never felt seen or cared for because of how they led. 

As humans, it is just by nature we need love and care from other people to help encourage our walk of life. When we work under people or serve beside leaders, we enjoy the validation and assurance we get from them when they compliment, congratulate or even critique our work. I have been a children’s ministry intern at my church for almost three years now, and when I feel most affirmed is when my boss tells me how I’m succeeding and how I need to improve. Not only that, I feel valued and appreciated when my boss asks how I am doing and catches up with me just like old friends would. And that’s the importance of true leadership – understanding there is work to be done but also valuing the worth of your employers. 

To be a good leader, one needs intentionality with the ones he/she works with. Those who follow the commands of a leader should not feel like a robot that’s easily replaceable but as a person with a life and a purpose. I understand there is work to be done when you are a leader and if you don’t value the work side of things, then you probably shouldn’t be a leader. 

However, what I’ve found out with my staff writers as Editor-In-Chief is that by connecting with them, whether that be over group chat conversations, asking about their day, and being transparent about my life to them, they in return give me some amazing work. By intentionally seeking out a relationship with them helps them feel more comfortable to ask questions and for help, to talk and laugh in the classroom, and come out to things when we plan for outside of school events. If I didn’t care about the people who make the newspaper something worth viewing then our publication would not be as successful. 

There is a need for valuing the people who work with you. As a leader, I have found myself successful and productive when I have relationships with the people around me. The people I work with mean a lot to me, the only reason I know that is because I’ve made intentional time with them. A leader does need to have a good work ethic and decision-making skills but also connect well with others. 

I want to be the leader I didn’t get growing up working places. And I’ve learned being intentional is something no leader can go wrong with.