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What makes a leader?

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By Emma Shortall
Multimedia Editor

Momoka Okamura ’21
When she first came here from Tokyo, Okamura was convinced by a friend to join Diversity Coalition. Okamura was promoting international students to engage with American students through the group events hosted. She also works to get American students to engage with international students. She now is the Vice President of Diversity Coalition.

Nell Criscione ’21
As a class officer for all four years of high school, she organized events and fundraised. During her senior year of high school, she was elected as the senior captain of her field hockey and ice hockey teams. Criscione is the captain of the women’s field hockey team.

Paul Olsen
Paul Olsen is an associate professor of Business Administration and Accounting. He teaches classes such as Leadership, First-Year Seminar: Peace & Justice, and Business Communication. Olsen said he was always an organizer, but it wasn’t until he started teaching he viewed himself as a leader.

Shane Coughlin ’20
Coughlin’s first big leadership position was his high school first-year class president. Here he became the firstyear class president of ’21. He’s an RA, member of SMC First Generation, the Student Government Association Executive Board, and is a part of the Code of Ethics Committee for Hudson, N.H, his hometown.

When entering college, some students seek a path toward leadership. Here are the voices of three student leaders and a faculty member who teaches about leadership to provide more insight.


Momoka Okamura’s Advice

What qualities make a great leader?

“I think that it’s important to keep harmony inside a team…I create an environment that’s ready for everyone to cooperate with each other.”

How will your current leadership position help you in the future?

“You’ll learn methods and theories and then when you go out in society in the future you’ll apply this knowledge to actual situations. It’s like you practicing here, so you can make mistakes but it’s okay. Everyone will be there to help and of course, those teammates and professors are going to help you, but in the future, when you’re working for companies you’ll have more responsibilities.”


Nell Criscione’s Advice:

Why should others want to be leaders?

“I think it’s really good for people to be leaders, so they have confidence in what they’re doing and feel empowered. I think being a leader, whether you’re shy, loud, outgoing, it just gives you confidence.”

Do you have any memorable experiences being a leader?

“Just making sure everyone is doing okay and feeling good about where we’re at makes the team more unified. I think just being a leader of the team and making sure that everyone’s comfortable doing what they’re supposed to be doing is good enough for myself.”

What does leadership give you?

“Leadership gives me confidence. It helps me with my problems solving skills. I think what I’ve learned in college and as being a captain of a sports team is how to work with people but also how to take charge and make a quick decision regardless of what other people think. So, all the skills that I’ve learned from being a captain at St. Mikes will also carry over in my life.”

Professor Olsen’s Advice


Why should others want to be leaders?

“I always say to my students I don’t care what you care about but care about something and then try to affect change in that way. If you’re passionate about it and can communicate it effectively I think you can really rally people around something you want to be changed.”

How can others be leader?

“I think it’s a matter of focusing on the task you want to get done but also focusing on your followers, showing concern for them. I try to do that as a teacher. We’ve got a job to do, but I can also show concern for them, show an interest in their lives. Share and celebrate their successes.”

What qualities make a good leader?

“Admitting mistakes is a really important quality for a leader. We all make mistakes, but for a leader to acknowledge that followers say, ‘I can identify with that because I’ve screwed up too.’ As opposed to saying I didn’t do it…I make mistakes every day, some are little, and some are big. I own them. It humanizes you and it’s important.

Shane Coughlin’s Advice

Why should others want to be leaders?
“We all certainly have the potential to be leaders. You don’t always see leaders in leadership positions, but I think throughout our lives we have the opportunity to step up and have a positive influence regardless of what position we’re in. Something as simple as living with your suitemates and conflict arise, you could be a leader and step up and propose a solution and help somebody else in need. I think there are so many different opportunities to be a leader in a sense and it doesn’t strictly have to be confined to a position.”

What qualities make a great leader?

“I think being willing to think, in terms of the needs of the group [as a] whole, over sometimes your self needs. You recognize what needs to be done and get it done.

You are not going to inspire people if you are not passionate about what you do and are excited about what you’re doing. Honest, hardworking, I think those are all important attributes.”

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