I feel overwhelmingly honoured to have attended the Parliament of World’s Religions last month. Even more so when I realised it was an opportunity for leadership.
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. All of whom were passionate about the end results and 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 learned it wasn’t about giving orders, telling people what to do or micromanaging their time. Not to say that those things don’t have their time and place. In this environment, it was about creating a vision. That could translate into an output, with goals. It meant disseminating information in a way that allowed everyone in the team to take ownership of the end products and feel pride when things worked.
Leadership for innovation
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.