The Importance of Good Leaders in The Development of Interns

What makes a good leader? Is it being very resourceful or skilled when it comes to handling a job? Is it delegating tasks to individuals in the team efficiently? Is it creativity? Actually, being a good leader probably takes all of that plus more. A leader has a vision and inspires people around her to believe in and execute this vision. She is emotionally intelligent, and is able to understand and read others' emotions well enough to guide them in the direction of accomplishing the organization's goals. A leader is committed to the growth of each individual in her team, and enables them to achieve measureable business results. She leads by example, and helps create an environment that inspires employees through demonstrating the behaviour she wants the organization to emulate.

Learning from leaders is very important for interns and university graduates. Navigating the real work environment for the first time can be tough, and interns and fresh grads often have to overcome challenges which no amount of text book training can prepare them for. In such situations, having a role model can help interns learn and grow. Working with leaders means interns receive coaching and mentoring which will build their confidence and give them direction. When a leader is guiding and interacting frequently with interns, they are able to make maximum use of her experience to learn. As young employees of today will be the future business leaders of tomorrow, it is critical to help them by professional grooming and mentoring during the formative years of their career.

Role of leaders in an internship:

Clarify purpose and direction

A good leader can inspire young talents and help them realize their potential to lead. By inviting and including interns in their day-to-day projects, good leaders help paint the big picture of the organization, allowing interns to understand how and where their contribution will impact the business. When interns feel involved, they are more empowered to take ownership of and find meaning in their daily tasks.

Share skills, knowledge, and expertise

A leader is also a mentor and a counsellor; a key part of her role is knowledge and skills sharing. She offers her expertise on how to meet daily responsibilities, understand the corporate culture and create a plan to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. Specifically for young interns, a leader is able to provide guidance and critical insights to help them bridge the gap between the theories learned in university and practical business applications. She can also teach interns the relevant skills needed to deal with challenges and expand their scope of exploring roles and jobs possibilities. A leader is a go-to person when interns want to discuss ideas and seek advice. Leaders provide interns with a good role model as well as a trusted confidante, to whom they turn to for any work, career, and / or personal-related matters.

Set an example

A leader's attitude is contagious. She injects energy and positivity into the team, takes charge and leads by example. When a leader leads, she creates a picture of what is possible and takes the first step before guiding others. She engages by rolling up her sleeves and demonstrating how things are done. She shows character and passion in everything she does and inspires others to do the same. A good leader also demonstrates a strong work ethic and confidence. She enjoys the respect and trust of her teammates which she builds over time by consistently making courageous decisions, taking risks, acknowledging the efforts of others and leading by example. This creates a positive atmosphere in the workplace and leads to teammates emulating the standards set by the leader. When interns work directly under such an involved leader, they are able to learn and emulate these positive values, which is critical to their professional success both currently and as future leaders.

Create a vibrant work-culture

A leader plays a crucial role in shaping the culture of the workplace by her interactions with people of the organization. This role magnifies all the more if it is a multi-national organization with a diverse workforce. She helps create an atmosphere where each individual is respected irrespective of their culture, ethnicity, religion and / or language. Interns who are exposed to such an environment in the beginning of their career (when they are thirsty to learn and their ideas about the workplace are still malleable), have the opportunity to observe a great example, and hopefully in the future, reflect the same attitude and carry this culture forward.