What ‘Diversity’ can teach you as a leader

Successful Leadership means attaining the ability to go outside of what is comfortable to you and bonding a strong relationship with the people you lead. Being a leader you must invest time and energy in meaningful conversations and encourage everyone to develop and put into practice their expertise. Everyone has something or the other to offer, but it’s rarely offered because they may lack drive, courage or confidence. A big mistake leaders often make is not allowing those they lead to gain their own leadership skills. Leadership is not about maintaining followers. Leadership is about giving followers the necessary tools to learn how to lead others. Before you can lead, you must learn how to follow. Sometimes leaders fail to realise they too can learn from their audience. It doesn’t matter the size, age, nationality or background.

When you lead a population of students who mirror the United Nations, you have to go outside of your comfort zone and brace yourself for a lesson in Diversity. As a leader I’ve never been one to limit anyone with a label or a tag because that’s not part of the big picture. The big picture represents delivering a message to a wider audience and not defining that audience because they don’t share the same language or skin color. It’s important to lead by conversation and example when working with a diverse group of students who represent different beliefs, ideas, countries and backgrounds. An effective leader is one who is committed to embracing the differences each student brings, while making sure they embrace and respect each other. A leader doesn’t exclude anyone, but is cognizant that everyone can be impacted by the delivery of the message, even if the message is delivered in another language.

Looking back at my leadership role and that of my students; the clear message delivered was a message of unison. Sometimes a leader needs to take a step back and allow others an opportunity to take charge and put into practice the leadership they’re learning. Going outside of what people think is normal, essentially provided me an opportunity to lead and inspire a group of students who represented the faces of America and other countries. In return they inspired me and continue to do so. As I watch them embrace their talents from the sidelines, it’s rewarding knowing my life has always been enriched by diversity.

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