Today is the last day of my MCP term. If you are not familiar with what that means, that’s completely fine. I am finishing my term for being the President of AIESEC in Serbia. With the year behind me and the opportunity to lead an organization of 400 people, at 24 years old, this was for sure the most challenging year of my life so far. Now at the end, I am going to share with you the key takeaways from my term.
If you plan to take on any kind of leadership role, the first thing that you need to understand and be able to deal with is – People will talk.
No matter how much effort you put into something and how many great things you do, not everyone is going to see that and not everyone will like your moves. But, deal with it, that is completely fine and natural.
You need to understand that your perspective is much different from their perspective, and instead of trying to put others in your shoes, always keep in mind that you are the leader. Not everyone is able or willing to see from your perspective – deal with it. When talking to others, explain everything in such a way, where you can see from their perspective, to have them better understand yours.
So, if you ask me to explain what leadership is all about, I would divide it in three main parts:
- Create the vision and completely align yourself with it;
- Make others care about that vision as much as you care;
- Help people to achieve the vision;
Why that? Let me start from the beginning.
Create the vision and completely align yourself with it
Being a leader is not a role written on your business card. If you want to inspire others, you need to be very clear about the vision that you are striving for, as well as, to plan measurable milestones that will make your vision achievable. One of the greatest leadership lessons that I learned was a simple quote of Rajon Rondo (taken from NBA 2K13), mentioned very often by Aleksandar Đalović (president of AIESEC in Serbia 2012/13):
“You cannot be a leader when you wish, either you are a leader 24/7, or you are not leader at all.”
Make sure that your everyday actions are aligned with the vision that you are fighting for.
Make others care about that vision as much as you care
Having a clear vision and goals are a precondition for getting followers. I was ready to challenge the conventional ways that were supposed to get us closer to achieving our goals many times, but it was very important for me to be clear with the final vision that made me to apply for a leadership position.
There are so many obstacles on the way that you are not able to predict, but the thing that will help you to stand up after you fail is exactly the vision that you are fighting for.
If you are not able to engage others towards that vision, you are not able to call yourself a leader.
Help people to achieve the vision
Most of the mistakes that I made during my term were related to me wanted to have full control over things. This was leading me to the completely wrong behavior – I will do that instead of you mentality. Don’t ever find yourself directly occupying the responsibilities of the people you have entrusted to do them. If you do, you will find yourself fighting one crisis, but not able to see another. This will lead to catastrophe. As a leader, you have a team to do their parts, and you are responsible for leading that team to the end goal or vision.
“You cannot be a great leader unless your confidence in others is as strong as your confidence in yourself.” – Theodore Roosevelt
So, if you aligned your team members with the vision, that means that they care as much as you care! Trust them and let them take care of their responsibilities.
Instead of being a person who is performing things, take a leadership role and help your team members to become persons capable to achieve the vision. Because they care as much as you care and because you trust them.
The very last, but not least – enjoy your experience! You only live once 🙂 Thank you for the amazing year!