Leadership Beyond Authority: American Express Leadership Academy - WCA Words by Kate Johnston

WCA Words by Kate Johnston

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At the end of last year a member of the Beyond Awesome leadership team, Kate, was lucky enough to be selected for the American Express Leadership Academy run by Common Purpose. 

The focus of the weeklong workshop was “Leadership Beyond Authority” in the not-for-profit sector, and it brought together people from various organisations across Southeast Asia. Throughout the week participants engaged in a diverse range of activities from hands-on group work, to keynote speeches by leaders in various fields. 

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This is what Kate had to say about her experience: 

“The American Express workshop was really eye-opening in that it helped me reflect upon and challenge a lot of my (quite archaic) notions of leadership – and what it means for me to be a leader in particular. 

I’ve always questioned my leadership capabilities and never really seen myself as a traditional “leader” at the front of the pack showing people the way. I’ve always been far more reserved and quiet – someone who watches, listens and reflects. But after my experiences throughout the week, and being challenged in my thinking, it’s becoming clearer to me that though I don’t have a traditional leadership style, I can still lead and make valid contributions to the group I’m working with. It’s helped me re-frame the way I see leadership: A leader isn’t the person charging the way at the front of the group, but rather the glue that holds the group together, ensuring everyone is effectively moving towards the same end goal. 

Additionally it was a good reminder to push myself out of my comfort-zone. Even though I’m someone whose comfort-zone is relatively large, there are definitely still things that get my heart rate rising! One of the activities that made me nervous was the “CoLab” – a group collaboration project in which we represented real-world companies that needed to strike deals together. In situations like this my insecurities tend to kick-in and I think “I’ll let the “smarter” people in the group handle this and I’ll take a back seat and observe”. But this time I was determined not to let that get in the way of my participation, so I swallowed the nerves, raised my hand, spoke up, and contributed as much as I could – and to be honest it really wasn’t that scary (thanks in huge part to the incredibly supportive environment set up by Common Purpose). 

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The leadership academy has definitely helped bolster my self-confidence as a leader, and I look forward to being able to contribute further to the Beyond Awesome Program as it continues to grow.” 

Find out more about Common Purpose:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/commonpurposeasiapacific/
Web: http://commonpurpose.org/singapore/
Twitter:  @CommonPurpose