Of Leadership

It’s been more than a week since the end of camp and everyone must have talked about it til death yet I’ve been strangely quiet about the whole event. I’m not sure if I’m jaded, detached or for whatever else reason, somehow I just don’t feel the attachment to Xcalibur 08. Someone (I think it’s Isaac) once told me that the 2 camps that’d be most memorable to you will be the one you attended as a freshman and then as a group leader. True indeed, I remember fondly Yo-A-Ke and Chiarimento. Emerga of last year seems like a whiff of a dream, barely conjuring an imagery from my mind.

It’s not that the camp was bad; I am in fact very proud of my guys who broke new grounds, attempted novel ideas and more so for carrying them out well. I will also remember the new faces and names, especially those who came to help in the float sessions, though there’d always be people who wave at me once semester starts, only to get a puzzled look in return.

Over the past several months, I’ve questioned myself on numerous occasions the meaning of being a leader. Having no student leader experience before university and not much of a team to leader when I was the Comms Director, the appointment of Freshment Orientation Projects Director was possibly the first real foray for me in leadership. There were some expectations on my part when I first agreed to oversee the orientation activities but it never prepared me for the amount of work and actuality of it. There are some things I can’t fulfill and time I have to spend away from family and loved ones but this isn’t a new problem to me, is it? Although we’re only roughly half way through the projects, I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no regrets for doing what I’m doing, as with everything else I’ve done in life, and I’m enjoying every bit of it.

Back to the topic of being a leader, there are times when I feel lonely as a leader; the solitary person in that position, one shared by none yet looked upon by everyone else. I’ve learnt that is doesn’t have to be that way, as I can always turn to the people I work with and the people I have around me. The more I make myself less alone, the more likely the team is able to come together as a family and less likely I’ve seen as the authoratative bad guy. The school sent us on the Dale Carnegie course and it’s all well and good; all of us can pick up any self-help book or read on the Internet to improve people skills and learn how to be a leader. We’re always told to lead by example, to motivate, to set visions, to solve problems, to achieve goals. Something I’ve learnt through the months that I realise isn’t said enough about leaders is the need to inspire people, to dispense confidence and to groom new leaders.

One problem faced every year is probably the seeking of new blood to take the reins of the Management Committee. One year isn’t a long time, neither is it too short for one to learn the ropes to take it to the next level. Have we trully been that busy handling projects and tasks that we couldn’t pass on our knowledge to some new folks, to show them the way? I think not. Are leaders then just selfish and paranoid that they’re unwilling to see someone else take their places, even though it’s inevitable? Even if someone else seats where they are today, the new guy should never outshine the old bird? If this is the way, maybe it’s time for a little change.

I’d like to think of a leader as being an illusion; here I am telling people to do what they already know to do, giving advice which should already be common sense, telling them they can do it when deep down somewhere they should never doubted themselves. Leaders are but humans and shouldn’t be worshipped on a pedestal; one day the follower too will step up and he will think to himself, “Hey, this isn’t that bad afterall.” More often than not, the first step is always the easiest, after that, you just hang on for the ride. Right now, I’m enjoying the ride, knowing that some day it might end but before it does, I hope I can inspire some to take it with me. That is why it never fails to bring a smile to my face when someone steps out of his comfort zone to do something he never thought he could or enjoy doing.