Can I really lead?

6 Dec

“Can you really lead, Ugonnah?” This is the question I asked myself after the first day of training when I did my first year of Public Allies. Like most people, I had a vague idea of what makes a leader. Vision, charisma, and the ability to convey your vision in a way to make others want to follow are considered to be basic characteristics of a leader. I am not disputing that they aren’t necessary, but it ignores the idea that says that leaders can be ever evolving and learning, which are traits I really value. Before Public Allies, I never thought that there might be an organization that would equip me with the tools of a good leader by highlighting the strengths in myself and learning to work on the attributes that I would like to strengthen. Sure, there are seminars and workshops that will teach me how to be more forceful and how to use words to persuade others to bend to my will, but that usually depends on changing fundamental things about me or taking an inventory of everything that is wrong with me, which, I can’t imagine, is a fun activity. I found that in my first year I discovered what social issues really spoke to me and was exposed to backgrounds, world views and opinions that made me examine how I see my surroundings. I did a lot of evolving and growing. I saw what I want , and held tightly the idea of “being the change I want to see in the world” as a way to decide my next steps. This second year as a Public Ally, I hope to develop the kind of skills (or maybe the assurance) that will allow me to be a leader and a force of good in my part of the world.

A little less than a month ago, Public Allies Pittsburgh held a training where we, Second Year Allies, facilitated a meeting with a panel of leaders in non-profits in the Pittsburgh area  and discussed the topic “Leadership: Managing with a Vision”. It was an amazing space where we were able to ask these different leaders what path they took to becoming leaders, what keeps them going, and how they keep their staff motivated. The quote that I will take with me from this experience was “Leadership is a process, when following a passion you can always move forward.” I want to follow my passions and grow with these passions, and if I am lucky enough to lead others to making a change where we can work together for a great cause. In my opinion, this kind of motivation keeps your intentions true, and when you feel on the brink of burning out, you can take steps to remind yourself on why you are working so hard. I am really excited about this year, and this panel was a great kick off to the kind of learning I want to experience this year. Public Allies extols the idea of ‘Everyone Leads” and being surrounded by people who genuinely believe it and also celebrates different kinds of learning and leading styles is one of my main reasons for signing up for a second year and will be something I can incorporate into every aspect of my life.

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3 Responses to “Can I really lead?”

  1. mdillie December 12, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ugonnah. I’m looking forward to reading more about your second year as a Public Ally here, in Pittsburgh!

    • uajnwokedi December 17, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      Thanks! Hopefully I don’t disappoint! 🙂

  2. AC December 14, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    I too want to be in a leadership role and you have made me realize not to change myself but to find ways how I can incorporate my inherent traits into being a leader. Thank you for sharing your experience Ugonnah.
    – AC

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