Speaker Jeff Johnson Discusses What it Means to be a Leader

Photo of Jeff Johnson
Photo courtesy of Sharde Knight

Jeff Johnson, a motivational speaker promoting leadership in young adults, spoke in Knott Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 4. Part of a series of MLK Day lectures, Johnson’s vivacity electrified his call to all present to discover what it means to be a leader.

He began by discussing Martin Luther King, and how he did more than become a leader for the civil rights movement, he became a leader of humanity. Johnson’s first point on leadership was having passion.

He said, “Campus leadership is terrible, awful, uninspiring, and unproductive” because they focus on meeting with one another but not accomplishing their mission. He asked the audience, “What vision do you have? If you don’t carry the mission statement of the organization on your heart and in your spirit, then what are you leading?”

Johnson spent the entirety of his lecture walking across the floor, which helped drive his points of having passion in leadership ever closer to the audience.

His next point was having strategy. According to Johnson, leadership is more than an inspiring vision. There must be a strategy involved.

Reflecting on violence across the country, Johnson said, “What are you trying to change?” Violence for the sake of violence is not a form of strategy, and cannot help bring about the kind of change a leader needs to achieve.

Johnson’s third tip for successful leadership was teamwork. Leaders must know how to build a team that is going to win. This team does not include friends.

Johnson said, “I love working with people I don’t like because there are no emotions involved.” Part of being a leader is also having the power to fire people. Citing from personal experience, Johnson recalled a time when he fired his two friends from his university’s student council because they were not being productive. “Politeness doesn’t work,” said Johnson.

He concluded by asking the audience, “What are you going to do with God’s given gifts?” which was then followed by questions.

Junior Alisha Crump said she felt “encouraged and inspired” by Johnson’s lecture. “It means a lot for young African Americans for leadership,” she added. Alisha had also asked Johnson how the message of his lecture can be spread effectively, to which he responded, “Be an example of it.”

Leave a Reply