In Class Six, I served as an environmental prefect which probably is one of the most interesting roles I had, majorly because I was passionate about the environment because at the moment I was scout. The following year I vied for Head Girl and I won, this came as a shocker for me for a number of reasons, I wasn’t what people would term as leadership material, I didn’t feel suited to be in this position. Initially I was scared and felt I should have vied for Environmental Captain but as the days continued I embraced this role given to me by the people ( I was elected). At the end of the year one question kept on bugging me which was did I make a difference? Did I do something to better the school for generations to come after me? Being head girl was probably my last interaction with an influential position, after that I served as a class prefect and I called it quits. After these encounters there is one question that has always lurked in my mind which is what does it mean to be a leader?
In 2017, shortly after I applied for the African Leadership Academy and got rejected I started reading more on leadership and their core values as a school really intrigued and gave me some more insight on what I would term as a leader. The fact that I didn’t get accepted in 2017 made me wonder whether the fact that I served as head girl was not proof enough I was a leader. You don’t have to be in a certain position to be a leader.
DIVERSITY: A leader is a person who accepts everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status, their religion, their race, their ethnic background. As a leader you must be willing to work with diverse groups. I say this a lot but diversity is the hardest thing to live with but probably the most dangerous to live without. Having different kinds of people drives creativity. It is hard dealing with people with different views than those that you have but as a leader you must learn how to cope with this.
CURIOSITY: By nature I am a curious person I always ask why and the fact that I question how things work and why they work that way has caused me plenty of trouble. As a leader you must question everything around why? how? You must be willing to be open to being questioned about your decisions. You must be open to criticism. Not every opinion will be constructive, some people are just simply being negative and as a leader you must know how to differentiate this.
INTEGRITY: Be a person of your word. Don’t preach water and drink wine. This makes you more trustworthy. While running Project Fmile I have made commitments and been unable to meet them which made me feel horrid. I have done things contrary to my values and I do regret those moments. To be a better person in general I am striving towards being a person of my word.
HUMILITY: As a Kendrick Lamar said, “Sit down, be humble.” The definition of humility differs from person to person hence why people could have contradicting views about one person. For me being humble means stepping out of your pride to be able to achieve a goal, stepping out of your ego to socialise with “someone below you”
COMPASSION: This does not apply to leaders alone but everyone. You should be able to sympathise with everyone. Being passionate about mental health, I have learnt to be compassionate from the common mental disorders which are depression and anxiety to the not so common anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder.
EXCELLENCE: My mum told me a leader is someone with a vision and has a passion to accomplish it. The definition success and failure is relative, for me excelling is outdoing my best and achieving my goal. With excellence it should not apply to me but those next to me.
This is what leadership means to me and the fact that I have seen these traits in people don’t have ‘leadership’ positions proves that leadership is not about your position but the impact you would like to make.