Learning about leadership

I feel overwhelmingly honoured to have attended the Parliament of World’s Religions last month.

The event felt like it was consuming my life for a few months before as preparations came underway, to travel to Salt Lake City and assist with the Sikh delegation at the event. I got to reflect on so many things that are crucial to the development of an individual.

On a basic level I was given responsibilities beyond what I was used to. The learning curve of leadership is immense. The ability to leave my comfort zone and delegate was a new experience. It was a privilege to work with so many people that were just as passionate about the end results and who knew how to jump in at a moments notice. It made the whole experience more enjoyable.

I call it leadership and not management. Perhaps I should learn more about the second… However ‘leadership’ rings truer to me. I learnt it wasn’t about giving orders, telling people what to do or micro managing their time – not to say that those things don’t have their time and place. In this environment it was about creating a vision for output, setting goals and disseminating that information in a way that allowed everyone in the team to take ownership of the end products and feel pride when things worked.

It left room for innovative ideas and a lot of autonomy… maybe too much in some cases – after all, communicating over technology abroad can sometimes be difficult – even more so when everyone is sleep deprived, jet lagged and putting in everything they’ve got.

I would in no way describe myself as a ‘leader’. The vision I took was not mine to begin with. Yet, having to take the reigns and turn it into a reality taught me a lot about what leadership consists of, and my personal strengths and weaknesses in relation to this.

When I realise that we are all responsible for taking the vision that was born during the Parliament and making it a reality in our various communities, I understand that these skills need to be developed further. Every delegate from the Parliament needs to become a leader of sorts, so that together we can impact the world and make a change.

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