What Makes A Leader!
A blog post by Anam Raheem
My role as GSG’s Program Manager is the first formal leadership position I’ve held in my budding career. I will always have a lot to learn, but I’ve certainly picked up a few truths so far. Here are some leadership (and life) lessons from my first year in this role that I hope can benefit others on a leadership path in Gaza and beyond…
- The cornerstone of leadership is empathy. The ability to enable meaningful change for an individual or community is predicated on having a deep understanding of their aspirations, motivations, fears, and joys. I’ve learned that listening is more than being present in a conversation and avoiding interruptions. Listening is the ability to reflect on spoken and unspoken interactions in order to formulate a response rather than a reaction. I’ve learned a lot about the art of decision-making and deeply believe that the steps to making an impactful decision begin by taking the time to listen, reflect, process, and discuss.
- Know your strengths and confront your weaknesses. Stepping into this role was a huge leap outside my comfort zone. Learning to recognize and utilize my strengths has been a really effective means to find my footing in this new role. I’m a strong communicator and enjoy facilitating teamwork, so focusing on tasks that allow me to lean on my natural talents has helped me to build my self-confidence. The downside of this approach is that it becomes easy to neglect confronting my weaknesses. As I enter my second year at GSG, I feel equipped to identify a few areas of growth and intentionally push myself to step into tasks that I am inclined to avoid. The goal isn’t to immediately convert my weaknesses into strengths (I don’t think that’s realistic), but rather to push myself to take baby steps that will turn my weaknesses into “things-that-I’m-less-good-at-but-can-still-do.” I’ll be curious to see how many of my perceived weaknesses are true weaknesses versus the fear of doing something new….
- Be human! Leadership doesn’t mean you have all the answers all the time. It means you can 1) admit when you don’t know or are struggling and 2) have the instinct to engage others to collaborate on solving problems or arriving at a decision. The best leaders and managers I’ve known in my life are ones who are comfortable with vulnerability. This is what makes someone approachable, inspiring, and collaborative and these are traits that can really motivate a team to fulfill their potential.