Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Leadership Positions

Just now on my Facebook feed, I saw a friend of mine, Aiman Azlan, post a question that he got from a person (most probably through email) which sounded something like:

Why aren’t guys stepping up to take up leadership positions in class?

I know what the asker of the question meant. I’ve had similar thoughts throughout my days of studying as well, but I couldn’t really limit my view to men alone since out of the 62 in my class, only 8 were male. I am compelled to share with you, dear reader, one of my own experiences with the issue of stepping up to accept responsibility in the form of leadership positions.

I don’t exactly remember why, but I do remember during my very first class meeting in the teacher training institute (we were TESOL 2, 20 strong, 2 males, 18 females), I immediately voiced my desire to be the class representative. When the issue arose, I raised my hand and said (I’m paraphrasing here) “I came here to grow and be a leader, so if I become the class representative, that’d be swell.” Douchey, I know. Gimme a break, I was 18.

Like I said, I don’t remember the exact reason I said those things, but there were a few factors that made me volunteer for a leadership position for the first time in my life. One, I perceived that everyone else in the class wasn’t comfortable with the notion of being a class representative so early in their tertiary education experience (except for one other person. Natural leader, that girl). Two, and more importantly, I thought I was better than everyone else. Me volunteering had more to do with my arrogance than anything else. I didn’t really “want to grow”. I just felt that I was the most competent of the bunch. Humility takdak langsung, Anwat tu. I felt that a lot of my classmates could detect that arrogance in me, and immediately rolled their eyes. I don’t blame them, I would have done the very same thing. 

I now realise the error of my ways. The function of a leader is to facilitate, organise and inspire people to accomplish set goals. What I did was hoard the responsibility, doing as much of it as I could on my own, and when I couldn’t handle the workload, internally criticise my classmates for not helping me at all. If I could slap the 18 year-old Anwar, I would. I would say “dude, you’re the one who’s doing a terrible job at delegating the work and organising the class that you represent. Hang nak blame depa pasaipa?”

I’ve learned to become weary of power, because its tendency to corrupt the people in those positions is very high, almost to an irredeemable extent. Power should not be sought. It should be carefully placed, for if given to those that cannot handle it, may cause the person’s downfall. Being a leader and being in a position of power mean different things, and one does not bring about the other. A leader need not be in a position of power to prove their leadership capabilities, and just because a person is in a position of power doesn’t mean that person has any leadership ability to speak of.

In the end it’s about what being a leader is trying to achieve. And it need not be limited to the sex of a person. If one is capable, and more capable than the others, the others have a responsibility towards themselves to enable that person to help them accomplish what needs to be done. And when a responsibility is given to any person, they should not shy away from it, feeling incapable of getting the job done. Your feelings have little to do with it, unfortunately. The responsibility has been handed to you, so it is your job to fulfil what is asked of you to the best of your ability.

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