Reflections of a Young Leader

When I was studying in high school, I was thankful to be given plenty of opportunities to lead my peers as well as juniors, from being a class chairperson to being a member of the student council. There are many qualities of a leader that students will learn along the way through leading others. 

Personally, there are many aspects of leadership that I have yet to develop and learn. By the time I graduated, I felt incomplete. I realised that the only opportunity to lead was with my peers. People whom we are comfortable with. Our friends, teachers and opponents in an external competition. Among the qualities of a leader, there are three qualities that I wish to develop in myself and that was why I felt that I was short of being whole. This does not only extend to humility, but also in the areas of extroversion and trustworthiness. 

Recently, I came up with a journal of the elements of leadership that I am keen to learn. 

Ideal 1: Developing Trust

The process of earning trust is something that cannot be expedited and has to be built over time with effort being put in by both parties. I have seen my friends grow frustrated with a lack of cooperation in their teams, which resulted in fragmentation and conflicts. I thought the issue lies with trust. Many a time, I feel that the level of trust if low –  poor communication and second guessing what their team mates’ abilities had led to undue anxiety. A crumbling relationship always points to scepticism in our own team members.

In the army, generals need to build trust with their soldiers over time by training and completing missions so that in times of war, the soldiers will trust their generals with their lives and give their all, knowing that their efforts will not be futile. At the critical juncture where life and death mattered, they could trust one another. They will also more likely trust that the strategy being used is the best to win the war and follow instructions given immediately without hesitation. This sheds light one question: do we trust our team members with their decisions? Or do we fear mistakes and failures such that we doubt their suggestions? I believe that we can all learn from mistakes. But when we learn to trust, it might lead to lower team morale.

Ideal 2: Opening Up

I have observed in a stint in the basketball club that the captain was affable, making an attempt to bond the team. They reached out to the team members first –  and it was always important to break the ice. This leads to the ease of communication between group members, leading to lesser misunderstandings.In sports, as compared to school clubs, members tend to be less guarded. There was more camaraderie which often involved back slaps, fist punches and after club bonding over a simple meal.

Before every election, the members of the individual parties will be seen walking around the vicinity that they are competing for and making small talk with other students. It may be seen as a rallying ploy, but one thing stood out –  they get nominated and even when they did, they continued mingling with their team members and other students, in a bid to also gain affirmation that fuelled their confidence. Extroversion, it seems will help a person to gain the support of others. Often, it leads to respect because when one makes it a point to make others a part of your life, your work, you’d come across as more sincere.

Ideal 3 :  The Value of Humility

Finally, it is the value of humility which I would like to develop if I were to lead. In the new era, we should understand that everyone makes mistakes, including yourself. Remaining humble and respecting everyone’s decisions and opinions is imperative for a team to succeed in what they do. And there is no one better than the one leading the herd to demonstrate that. Humility breeds respect.  I believe that a leader with humility will treat their members the way they would like to be treated. A humble leader will also recognise and emphasise that when work as a group is done well, it is a result of a group effort; a matter of ‘we’ and not ‘I’, and when work done is not up to expectations, they will take full responsibility for it.

In my opinion, leadership is a journey and there is no nirvana that can be attained as it evolves with the times. Learning to lead is analogous to being at the base camp of an insurmountable mountain that would take a lifetime to climb. Good team members are like indispensable extensions of ourselves to help attain a vision, be it at work or in a social project. And as I pen off this journal, I will continue to seek my answers.

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