What Leadership Means to Me:
When initially applying to the programme, my view of leadership was that leadership is a complex and multifaceted role that goes beyond simply commanding and ordering others how to behave. Today, my view on leadership remains the same; however, it has become much more nuanced and informed due to the experiences I have encountered during my two years on the programme.
Leadership requires an open-minded and flexible mindset through which you not only guide and teach those around you but also allow yourself to learn and grow through the ideas and beliefs of others. The six-week research programme really allowed me to discover this element of leadership as I had to navigate through a diverse range of ideas and opinions, which were not always in line with my own, and decide how to reach an outcome that would, to the highest degree possible, please all members.
Additionally, leadership can sometimes mean taking a step back and letting someone else step forward. Although this idea may seem almost paradoxical at first since the conventional image of a leader is that of someone who takes the lead and is at the forefront, this is not always the case. As I learnt over the course of the two years, a good leader recognises their own strengths, but a great leader will recognise their limitations too. In order to grow and turn these limitations around, a leader should look towards their team and never put it above themselves to be able to learn from team members in order to evolve both personally and professionally.
Personal Development as a Leader:
Over the course of my two years on the programme, I have seen my own leadership skills evolve and become a lot more refined.
The first year allowed me to navigate being a leader in an independent setting whereby I was given a goal and had to figure out the best way to independently achieve it. This required me to utilise my critical and creative thinking skills, as I had to ensure that I made decisions in a complex environment without compromising the efficiency or quality of the outcome. In addition to this, the Leadership-in-Action programme pushed my research and project management skills as I had to independently prioritise time and activities, which included data interpretation and analysis.
The second year on the programme was primarily about being and interacting as a leader in a group setting, which came with its own unique set of challenges but also the development of a unique set of skills. As a leader, having social and cultural intelligence and awareness is paramount in order to navigate foreign situations and build networks. The research project equipped me with these skills, as being in Turkey and having to communicate with academics and charities from Turkey meant I had to familiarise myself with the local customs and norms in order to build meaningful connections.
Both years have been extremely rewarding in their own ways and have transformed my leadership skills.
Looking Towards the Future:
This programme has allowed me to experience leadership in a myriad of ways, including (but not limited to) skills workshops, project management, and data collection. Every experience has taught me something new or has allowed me to refine existing skills, such as those mentioned above, in order for me to become a better future leader, regardless of what setting that may be in. Both my personal and professional lives have been positively impacted by my participation in this programme, so I am eternally grateful to all those I have met over the course of the two years and look forward to what I can achieve as a Laidlaw Scholar!