What Style of Leadership Suits You?

By Shoeb Islam

University is a place where students can find opportunities around every corner. If you are ambitious, you might have asked yourself questions ranging from “How do I spend my time outside of classes?” to “How do I want to make a change?”. Although your classes make up a solid foundation for what you are expected to know for the workforce, it may not be enough as some companies may look for other types of skills beyond what you are taught in school. As increasing innovation in Engineering and Architecture puts these careers in higher demand, leadership becomes an important aspect of the process. According to the National Society of Engineers, all engineering students seeking to become professional engineers (P.Eng) must show certain aptitude in leadership. Similarly, Architects also require a high degree of skill in leadership to lead the design and planning process of large-scale infrastructures. 

Although skills in leadership are very important, there is not a simple formula to become an exceptional leader. There are many different styles of leadership, and each person has their own unique approach. To find out more, I have interviewed notable student leaders within FEAS to find out their thoughts on: leadership, their style of leadership, and the skills or values that they think effective leaders must have.

  1. Reza Khonsari, MASc Civil Engineering

Reza Khonsari is a first year MASc student in Civil Engineering. He has been involved in many different societies during his time as an undergraduate student including:

  • Board of Governors within Ryerson University (2019-2020)
  • Ryerson Engineering Competition as the Chair (2017 – 2018)
  • RESS as the VP Academic (2017-2018) and as the Director for Civil Engineering (2016-2017)
  • FEAS as a Project Manager (2017)

Thoughts on Leadership

As a leader, Reza thinks you must have a strong and clear vision and use it to help others to find their purpose. You need to be able to find the strengths and interests of your team members to empower them and make sure that everyone is engaged. By doing so, you will be increasing the confidence, passion, and self-accountability within your team. By just sparking an interest in one person and motivating them to achieve their purpose, you have done your duties as a leader. 

Style of Leadership

Reza likes to find out the strengths and interests of everyone he works with by spending time with them. This allows Reza to delegate tasks appropriately and give them the platform to work on areas that would make them shine. Having each member maximize their strength and interest would eventually lead to a very efficient team where everything gets done on time. This also results in a team where everyone feels welcomed to bring up new ideas and suggestions no matter what. 

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Aside from confidence, commitment and competence, Reza believes a good leader needs to have an outstanding character. Integrity and good ethics are what build good leaders that can inspire others and achieve a goal. When you have a group of people looking up to you, you must make sure you are setting an excellent example while working towards your vision. Additionally, a good leader should be able to motivate their peers to push forward during tough times.

  1. Iyvan Chandran, B.Eng Computer Engineering

Iyvan is a final year undergraduate student in Computer Engineering. He is currently in school part time while spending most of his free time working on his Startup, Alpha Libertée. He has been heavily involved in numerous societies including:

  • Board of Governors within Ryerson University (2019-2020)
  • RSU as the VP Education (2019)
  • RESS as the VP Academic (2018-2019) and the Director for Computer Engineering (2017-2018) 
  • Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference as the Sponsorship Lead (2019-2020) and as the Operations Lead (2016-2017) 

Thoughts on Leadership

To Iyvan leadership means working together to reach a goal whilst making sure everyone improves their skillset and has a fun time!

Style of Leadership

Iyvan’s style of leadership is personal. Iyvan gets to know his team members on a personal level so he can create a meaningful connection with them. This allows him the ability to have a fun time with his team which makes work enjoyable and something to look forward to.  Through this method it is easy to identify blockers and understand the personal goals of everyone which allows him to delegate tasks that are inline with their desires.

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Through his experience as the CTO and Co-Founder of Alpha Libertée, Iyvan believes that a leader must be knowledgeable and experienced. He also thinks that leaders should be very approachable and highly efficient, as a leader exists to lead a team and not boss them around.  

  1. Treya Vyas, BArchSc Architectural Science

Treya is a third-year undergraduate student in Architectural Science. She has been involved in multiple  societies including:

  • Ryerson’s Architectural Science Student Society as the Principal (Present)
  • TimberFever as the VP Communications (2020)
  • Ryerson Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as the Concept Designer (2020) 
  • RAAS as the Creative Director (2019-2020).

Thoughts on Leadership

Treya regards leadership as being the communication and organizational influence between a leader and their team. This requires a great deal of transparency and shared vision within the entire team. 

Style of Leadership

Treya leads by example. She has worked with various teams, from being a peer mentor in high school to a supervisor at her food service job, to now a student society principal. Although these are all very distinct positions, they all hold great value and importance to her.  

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Treya understands that a good leader must have a vision that they are ambitious to accomplish as they lead their team in an inspiring way. This combined with the courage and perseverance, a leader and their team can accomplish whatever task may come in their path. 

  1. Arianna Economou, B.Eng. Chemical Engineering

Arianna is a third-year undergraduate student in Chemical Engineering. She has helped co-found a new club within Ryerson that advocates and provides opportunities for women in Engineering. She is involved in societies below:

  • Ryerson Women in Engineering as the Co-President and Co-Founder (Present)
  • RESS as the Director of Chemical Engineering (Present) and the First Year Engineering Board (2018-2019).

Thoughts on Leadership

Arianna considers leadership as being the ability to bring people from different backgrounds and experiences together to find the best solutions for a problem. She also believes in leadership being the means to give the individuals on a team the confidence and necessary tools to succeed. This success will not only affect the team’s goals, but also their individual goals as well. 

Style of Leadership

Arianna’s leadership style is very collaborative and guidance-based. She likes to provide her team with advice and work through problems with them together. She feels this is a great approach as it allows the team to learn for themselves while also feeling as if they are not solving problems by themselves. 

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Arianna believes that open-mindedness and flexibility are very important characteristics in identifying a good leader. As there are so many ways to approach a problem, Arianna understands that having an open mind is vital, and having flexibility allows one to swiftly adjust to any issues that arise in their plans. Also, through emphasizing these characteristics, Arianna trusts it creates a space for teammates to feel comfortable in bringing up new and unique ideas without fearing criticism or rejection. 

Concluding thoughts

There are many different styles of leadership, and each person has their own unique philosophy of leadership. I personally believe that you do not need to be in a position of power to display qualities of leadership. Some of the greatest leaders that I know are not involved in student clubs, but display qualities of leadership much better than most student leaders within FEAS. As long as you are passionate about what you are doing, and have a clear goal and ambition in mind, then it is a matter of building a team that shares the same ideals as you. From there, you will need to gain skills in organizing your team and knowing them on a personal level can help you around that.

My style of leadership is based around objectives. I try to play to the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates and ensure that everyone is feeling comfortable and having the best experience. 

The most important value that I believe a leader should possess is empathy and humour. In order to lead people, you must understand them first. Through making these connections, you can maximize the efficiency of your team. Humour is important because good leaders should not be only about work. They should also look towards keeping the team spirit up! Finally, leaders should always strive to learn as much as possible to improve their own skills and lead more effectively.

To learn more about what leadership opportunities are available on campus, fill out the FYI inquiry form and a peer connector will get back to you within 24 hours. If you would like to discuss how to build leadership skills, make a 1:1 appointment with a Peer Advisor here. Lastly I would also recommend that you register for the “Virtual Teamwork & Collaboration” Masterclass on Friday November 13th from 1pm-2pm here.

The author, Shoeb Islam, is a fourth year electrical engineering student at Ryerson University. Shoeb is part of the first ever Peer Network Program (PNP) student staff team. He is excited to serve as a Peer Connector for the academic year 2020-2021.

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