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(Above: Christian Fellowship annual camp, Port Dickson)
Name: Esther Lee Yin Yin
Course/University: Bachelor of Psychology at HELP University
Experience: President of HELP University Christian Fellowship (2013–2014)
Leading a team of people, I was always concerned about how “successful” I will be at my role, how “successful” events and activities will turn out, and what kind of impact I will leave behind.
Which leader does not want success, right?
However, over the course of 2014, I found certain things that challenged my initial concerns and priorities.
I reached a sort of identity checkpoint when I realised that who I am is not what I do or what I can do. Success or failure does not define a leader nor does it define who I am as a person.
As a leader, it is easy to feel inferior and insecure when you feel the need to earn people’s respect. This journey has led me on a rough road of learning to have the courage to do what is right even if it does not sit well with some.
Being a leader is not about seeking people’s approval or making yourself likeable; it is about stewarding well what you have been entrusted with and being faithful with the little things, even things that are unseen by the crowd.
Above: My amazing committee and I; Lee (fifth from left)
An introverted leader
I have always had the idea that a leader should be extroverted, always “out there” mixing and mingling with people, and basically be seen and heard. And so I tried. I tried to be more friendly and talkative than I usually am, I forced myself to come out of my shell and relate with people.
I ended up drained and burnt out instead.
I have since learnt to lead from a place of authenticity instead of being someone I am not. I can relate to people in my own unique way without feeling the pressure of fitting into an expectation or a mold. Leading from a place of rest makes my service a joy and increases my effectiveness.
Being task-oriented vs people-oriented
Being someone who has a more task-oriented management style, I tend to put people aside when there is work to be done. The plus side is that I am focused and I get the job done.
The down side is that the people I work with might get neglected and I lose the relational aspect of leadership.
It took one of my committee members to sit me down and point this out to me. It was humbling to have someone explicitly point out my weaknesses.
That one year has taught me to humble myself and to consider different working styles, to deal openly with conflict, to open up and communicate with my team – all of which do not come naturally for me.
Leaders have blind spots and character flaws too. I have had the joy and privilege of working with a team of like-minded people, people with whom I have experienced a true sense of community.
I am thankful for friends who are honest enough to challenge me, to admonish, and to call me out on it, all done in a loving spirit.