In this issue of Faculty Voices, Ms Tsurumi, who coordinates the leadership program at the school, talks about what it means to be a leader.
What do you think of when you hear the word “Leader”?
Often times, we think of CEOs, Presidents, and charismatic figures who mobilize large groups of people towards a certain shared goal.
At UWC ISAK, we emphasize time and time again that Leadership is not limited only to those who hold certain titles or positions or something that people are born with. Rather, Leadership is a practice. What is it a practice of? It is a practice of creating positive change within self and community at large by:
Identifying what is important and what is needed
Taking purposeful action even when discomfort shows up
Using diversity as a strength
Supporting others in this practice
We recognize that every single human is different, and we contribute to our community in different ways. There are of course students who contribute to our community by assuming “leadership roles” like Resident Assistants or Student-Led Activities Leaders and contribute to our community in large and visible ways. However, we may also have a student who notices that there’s a lot of litter on our campus and calls to our community to action to pick them up, or another student overcoming his/her fear engages in a challenging conversation about noise issue with his/her roommates. We recognize all as acts of leadership, as our authentic way of creating positive change looks different from person to person. What is important is that we are intentionally and persistently committed to this practice, because with practice, we get better at it.
With repeated practice, students are bound to develop leadership skills and mindsets to act as effective change makers. While many skills and mindsets will emerge, at UWC ISAK, we focus on the growth of the following leadership skills and mindsets:
Awareness: Ability to deeply observe oneself and the environment, and understand what is important for self and the greater good.
Connecting: Ability to empathize with members of a community, understand their diverse potentials and values, and support them towards a common goal.
Action-Taking: Ability to step out of one’s comfort zone to courageously bring ideas to life.
Self-Discipline: Ability to respond positively to challenges with measured reflection, growth-mindset, resilience and optimism.
Creativity: Ability to generate innovative ideas and questions and builds upon those of others.
We are working purposefully to design our programs from residential life, activities, outdoor education to academic classes to provide as many opportunities for our students to practice leadership as possible. Our deepest hope is that students will leverage on these opportunities and practice creating positive changes in their own ways. While they may fail at times, they will learn the skills to pick themselves up again amongst the support of our community. With continuous practice, they will be supported in developing the important leadership skills and mindsets during their time at UWC ISAK.