Leadership Advice in 2015 Commencement Speeches

Regardless of whether you graduated this year, last year or 10 years ago commencement speeches can be a great source of leadership wisdom. Here are the best leadership lessons shared this year at college graduations across the country:

Maya Rudolph - Tulane University

"At the Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles, I studied improvisation. And in improvisation there is one hard and fast rule, and that rule is known as 'Yes And.' The term 'yes and': to say yes, and not just yes, but to add information. In the adding of information you don't negate the other person's idea - but you build on it. So if I must give any of you advice it would be say 'yes.' Say 'yes, and...' and create your own destiny." 

Saying "yes and" is so important Gamma Phi Beta introduced this concept at the REAL Leadership Conference this past year. As a leader when you say "yes and" you keep an idea or conversation alive while validating the comments of others on your team. By making your teammates look brilliant with "yes and" you can eliminate defensiveness and strengthen your team. 

Kid President - The Internet

"If at first you don't succeed...you're normal! You don't have to have it all figured it out. You do need to know this: you are awesome and you have always got to treat people awesome."

It is okay if you don't succeed in leadership all the time. Failure happens to everyone and being afraid of failing keeps you from moving forward and taking chances. If you don't want to feel alone in your missteps you can click here to read a collection of stories from leaders who have failed before you. 

Meredith Vieira - Boston University

"Only authenticity will keep your head on straight and your feet firmly planted. So don't strive for somebody else's notion of perfection. It's an unattainable and ultimately ridiculous goal. Strive instead to be uniquely yourself. And, when in doubt, listen to your gut because it already knows what you want to become."

Leaders can feel it is necessary to put on a persona or act a certain way, but more often than not people will not follow a leader that they do not feel is authentic. As an authentic leader, staying true to who you are, you appear more approachable and trustworthy to those around you. 

Tim Cook - George Washington University

"We believe that a company that has values and acts on them can really change the world. And an individual can, too. That can be you. That must be you. Graduates, your values matter. They are your North Star. And work takes on new meaning when you feel you are pointed in the right direction."

Leadership is rooted in who you are and what you believe. It will be your values that guide you as a leader and help you make decisions that align with what matters to you most. Gamma Phi Beta's Core Values are Love, Labor, Learning and Loyalty. What are yours? 

What leadership advice would you give to the class of 2015?