Kent graduate encourages students to become leaders

Kelly Tunney

Lance C. Buhl told audience members at Bowman Hall that they have the ability to take a leadership role.

Buhl, Kent State graduate and deputy director of the United States-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke University, spoke to a small group of students in a discussion titled “Preparing for Lives of Leadership” on Thursday.

He said students should not be discouraged by the daunting task of leadership because everyone has the potential to lead.

“I believe that the capacity for leadership is very widespread,” he said. “Indeed, it resides in each of us. That is in essence the intellectual premise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”

Buhl emphasized that leadership is a service role and leaders work not for themselves but the community that they represent; leadership is also derived from moral principles.

“The kind of leadership I’m talking about is one that is firmly rooted in some universal moral principles,” he said. “The most outstanding of which that are found in literature in almost any religion is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

After sharing his thoughts on leadership, Buhl opened a discussion with the students to understand their views of leadership.

Paige Kasten, junior history major, said she thinks leadership is a skill that takes time to develop.

“In my opinion, true leadership is acquired over a long period of time,” she said. “I don’t think that you can just all of a sudden be a leader.”

The group of about 10 students debated over the effectiveness of a dictatorship, such as the leadership of Singapore as opposed to the democracy in America.

“I think inevitably conflicts are always going to arise,” Kasten said, “whether it’s a dictatorship or a democracy.”

When the discussion had ended, Kasten said she agreed with Buhl about his views on leadership, but people need to focus on their individual abilities to succeed.

“I think everybody does have the capacity for leadership,” she said. “I just think that it’s how they are going to use the resources that they’ve been given or have worked so hard for when they know their craft and they really hone in on the things they enjoy.”

Buhl said after the presentation that students who want to take advantage of their leadership potential should constantly evaluate how they are able to be a better leader.

“I think to remain conscious and reflective of how you are as a leader is probably the most important part,” he said.

Contact Kelly Tunney at [email protected].