Seven years after Youth Leadership Millennium

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony of this year’s S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Youth Leadership Millennium (YLM) program.  I participated in the same program seven years ago and since then have been volunteering there.

Although I have attended many of the graduations as a volunteer over the past years, this was the first time I was invited to speak in front of the audience from my perspective as an alumnus.  Writing the speech gave me a chance to reflect over the past seven years and how different aspects of YLM have been part of my life.

Much of what I wanted to share with the graduates included learning and applying what was learned to life.  The first point was to get the graduates to reflect on what they had learned in the program.   I learned a lot during the seven-month program, hard skills like running meetings, and soft skills like working with others.  I was also exposed to different things that I wouldn’t have tried on my own.

The second point was to keep learning throughout their lives.  The motto of my elementary school was “Be a Learner for Life”.  The program can’t teach you everything there is to know about leadership within seven months.  It’s up to each individual to put in the effort to better themselves.

The final point was to apply what they learned in their lives.  I think much of the benefit of YLM wasn’t really within the program but what came afterward.  The opportunities of applying what I learned in YLM Council and further developing the things that I learned in the program was what I found most beneficial.

I’m including the text of the speech I drafted below.  For the actual speech, I did cut some parts out to save time because the other speakers also covered about some of the things I had planned, however I stuck with the three main points.

This was my first time speaking at an event like this as an alumnus of the program.  Again I learned a lot from this particular experience both when reflecting to write the speech, and giving it on the day.

Continue reading “Seven years after Youth Leadership Millennium”

Some things I think leaders should do

A couple of days ago, while surfing Hacker News, I saw this Quora article entitled “What are common mistakes that new or inexperienced managers make”.

Most of the answers are geared towards managers in companies, in particular, tech companies. However, as managers are leaders, I think that some points can also be extrapolated out as tips for leaders in general.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been involved in ramping up the volunteer council of the YLM program this year, and I was able to spend some time reflecting on different leadership styles.  Based on my personal experience in different roles at work and the groups that I volunteer with, the following points from the article resonated with me in particular.  I think are easily applicable, but not limited to, a volunteer setting. (These generally correspond with the order of points in the first answer in the article in case you want to read in more detail)

  • routinely giving constructive feedback and affirming team members in a timely manner
  • recognizing team members that perform well
  • knowing the strengths (and weaknesses) of your team members, and what their expectations are
  • push team members to further develop themselves
  • create opportunities, and actively seeking people that would fit
  • optimizing processes (lowering the time doing overhead and administrivia, increasing time doing productive work of value)
  • ability to say ‘no’ if the team cannot handle it
  • giving credit to the team members
  • taking blame for the team

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of what leaders should do, but just a summary of points from the Quora answer that resonate with me.  In fact, I don’t think that any of the above points relate to the core task of a leader (guiding a team to accomplish a goal), but instead are things that differentiate a leader that just gets the job done with one that develops the team itself.

If you have any other thoughts about this list or leadership qualities in general, let me know in the comments.