I remember the first day of my MBA program's orientation as chaotic and uncertain. The course coordinator had organized a charity project for us: constructing a wooden playground for a primary school. Given that many of us had backgrounds in finance and office work, and none in architecture or construction, we were lost. We had just two days to complete this challenging project.
In the initial phase, I had the opportunity to take charge. Instead, I held back, waiting for someone else to lead. I was concerned about embarrassing myself in front of my peers, with whom I'd be spending the next two years. My classmates were proactive and outgoing, while I chose the role of a follower, in part due to my demanding day job. I focused on completing tasks quickly and efficiently, thinking that was merit enough.
Reflecting on that experience three years later, I recognize the mistake I made. Introversion shouldn't prevent me from sharing my ideas or leading a team, irrespective of age, culture, or job title. In that chaotic situation, many were looking for someone to lead, to provide direction and delegate tasks. While I was effective as an individual contributor, completing small tasks like building a slide, the broader project required teamwork and leadership to construct the entire playground.
Leadership is crucial for success, not just in business but also in social and personal spheres. Now more than ever, amidst global tensions and uncertainties, I must exercise self-confidence and step into leadership roles. Effective leadership isn't for personal gain; it's about genuinely helping others and taking responsibility for the group's success and well-being.
I am committed to turning this weakness into a strength. There are myriad opportunities to lead—whether by joining organizations, volunteering, or speaking up in public settings. The path to success through leadership isn't about my achievements, but rather about facilitating the success of a larger group. I must lead, and keep leading, for the betterment of all involved.