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Risks make a good leader

By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 17, 2005
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Leaders are not born nor bred, but rather they are "ignited" by something inside of them.

UA alumna Lisa Lovallo, who serves on the leadership board for the Dean of Students Office, spoke yesterday on what it is to be a leader and where students should go about pursuing challenges and leadership roles they wish to take head on.

In the speech, "Student Leadership Development: What is it, Where do I get it and Why is it Important?" Lovallo compared students to matchsticks who must ignite themselves in order to get involved, and the UA is their matchbox with endless amounts of opportunities to take on leadership roles.

Lovallo told the audience of around 30 people this activation, or lighting the flame to success, is a conscious choice people want to make happen and has nothing to do with genetics, socioeconomic levels or the environment that surrounds them.

"You possess to transform yourself and others around you if you choose to ignite the flame inside of you," Lovallo said.

Jon Lange, an accounting senior, said he attended the event because it was a requirement for one of his classes.

However, Lange said he was impressed what Lovallo had to say even though he is already involved in leadership roles with Associated Students of the University of Arizona and Eller Student Council.

Lange said inspiration for taking on leadership roles around campus came from his friends and other people already involved in ASUA to get him more involved with something on campus.

Lovallo said there are four steps people should follow in order to become a leader.

The first step is lighting the fire inside yourself in order to take the risk and get involved in something.

Blinded by the light inside of her, Lovallo decided to join the UA women's basketball team to challenge herself. She said she made the team because the fire luminated inside her even though she sat on the bench nearly the whole season.

"The only records I was breaking at the McKale Center was sitting on the bench," Lovallo said.

Stepping onto the court and taking on a challenge like joining the team taught Lovallo about teamwork and humility. She said being on a team gave her confidence and the ability to drive for something passionate, which are essential traits for becoming a leader.

Michael Achtman, the appropriations director for ASUA, said his involvement in ASUA started from wanting to get involved on campus. He talked with senator Sara Birnbaum, liked what he heard and decided to run for a position.

Achtman, an interdisciplinary studies junior, said leaders have a natural and conscious instinct to lead, but also said becoming involved in leadership activities makes someone a good leader as well.

The second step on the way to becoming a leader is igniting others so they follow in their mentor's footsteps, Lovallo said.

"Once you're ignited, you have the responsibility to ignite and mentor others so that they can continue the cycle in helping others see the potential inside of them," Lovallo said.

Lovallo spoke about how when she was a UA student, she was called by the ASUA vice president who wanted her to be a part of a committee.

Through Lovallo's previous leadership and teamwork experience, she decided to run for ASUA vice president after serving on the previous vice president's committee, won the VP position and appointed her own committee members to get them into leadership opportunities.

Because of opportunities like ASUA, word spread like wildfire on Lovallo's leadership skills and eventually companies like Procter and Gamble came calling for promising student leaders and found the flame burning inside of her.

"Procter and Gamble hires leaders because they want self-starters, people who motivate others," Lovallo said.

Nathan Bell, an ASUA Senator, went through similar experiences in trying to get involved on campus.

Bell, a computer science senior, said his first leadership experience came when a friend asked him to get involved with the Residence Hall Association. Through RHA, Bell said he had to do work with ASUA senators, which led him to run for a senatorial position in ASUA.

"I saw the need for change and got involved," Bell said. "It gave me a sense of purpose to throw my hat in the ring and get myself into the mix of things."

Spreading your inner fire and fanning the flame to others is the third step in the leadership process.

"Leaders do not hold on to power, they distribute it to others," Lovallo said. "We want to turn these matchsticks into their own matchboxes to be catalysts for others."

Lovallo said she got to phase three after graduating from the UA in 1987 after receiving a phone call requiring her help to raise money, educate and raise awareness for women against sexual assault. Lovallo eventually got on the board of members for the initiative and raised $1.6 million for a new center for battered women.

"We changed the nature of the beast with all of this," Lovallo said. "Building coalitions of people enable things like this to get done."

Lovallo spoke about how the UA is one of few schools in the country to raise money for student involvement. Thus far, $1 million has been raised for programs like the ASUA and $850,000 is expected to be raised this year alone.

Lovallo said students have no excuse for not trying to pursue leadership opportunities because it is all right here waiting for someone to take on the challenge.

"I want all of you matchsticks out there to walk up to ASUA and say I want to get involved in something and make a personal commitment to ignite yourself," Lovallo said. "There are 450 student-run clubs or organizations on campus and I made a lifelong commitment to help make this possible."

Passing the torch for others to be leaders is the final and most difficult step to achieve because this step is a lifelong commitment.

Lovallo said it is always a challenge to motivate others and get the ball rolling.

"It's not enough to just ignite the fire inside yourself," Lovallo said. "You gotta distribute your power and light the flame for others."

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