Michelle (second from right) with her teammates.
Name: Michelle Chen Sue Ann
Course/University: Bachelor of Languages and Linguistics (German), University of Malaya
Experience: Team leader of a research project
In today’s world, leadership has many definitions. We have our own ideas about leadership and the characteristics of a good leader.
Some people might think that a good leader is one who is able to guide others to complete a particular task, while others believe that he/she is one who is able to motivate the entire team and brings out the best in them in order to reach greater heights.
Although the definitions may vary, one general thought remains the same: leaders are individuals who know how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way.
I have never attended any prestigious talks, camps or workshops, nevertheless I had the privilege to lead at many different occasions.
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to lead a team at my home university.
We had to conduct a research and submit a full report of our findings. We were only given six weeks to complete our research.
It was nerve wrecking, but I cannot deny the fact that through all the struggles, leadership has taken on a whole new dimension to me.
In working together, there are bound to be disagreements. This is inevitable because the team is made up of individuals from different backgrounds.
In the midst of our disagreements, I have regularly reminded the team of our goal. The reminder helped the members to put aside their personal agendas and be open to the ideas of others.
In the end, we managed to pull through, and chose the best option for the benefit of our research.
A leader needs to demonstrate servanthood by helping his team members in practical ways. He often put others before himself.
I may be leading my team, but it does not mean that I dictate every single move. I must allow room for new ideas and solutions. I believe that a good leader has to be humble to learn from his team members.
A good leader is a learner committed to developing his character and to grow to heights of maturity. He is one who is open and teachable. He is also willing to learn from the strengths of his subordinates or team members.
During the course of our research, it dawned on me that there are so many instances that I could learn from the strengths of my teammates.
As their leader, I was not perfect and I need to continue learning from others to improve in the areas of their strengths.
Leading this team was not the only responsibility that I have. As a leader, I learnt the need to be available for my team.
There were times of struggles, but I learn to prioritise. One needs to cultivate availability because it is an evidence of his commitment to the team.
All in all, I do not consider myself to have acquired all the characteristics of a good leader. Individuals become effective leaders because of the training and experience they gained from the past and improve in the present.
As for me, there is still room for improvement.
As a leader, I want to be reminded that I need to examine myself when I make any decision. I need to be clear of the motive behind each decision and ensure that my team is always my priority.
If you had an experience during your university/college days that you would like to share, email it in to firstname.lastname@example.org!