Leading with agility.
Being a leader in 2020 has had its fair share of strange and isolating moments, but what this experience has taught our current school leaders is the concept of agility.
What is leadership agility?
According to Forbes Magazine, “Agile leaders are creative thinkers with a deep sense of purpose. Agile individuals are motivated by expanding their knowledge, questioning the status quo, and actively migrate towards challenges.”
This certainly rings true for our values and beliefs at Mentone Girls’ Grammar as we aim to empower our girls to be bold and enterprising global citizens who rise to challenges with an open mind.
Our School Captain this year Wangshu Ma has discovered that being a leader means adapting to the changes in our environment.
“I’ve noticed the leadership skills of communication, compromise and adaptability have trickled into other aspects of my life. Where before I would have been overcome with doubt, now I’m better at backing my ideas and taking on feedback.”
Wangshu admits that adjusting to online leadership was difficult at first, but she rapidly adapted to the change by adjusting her mindset.
“Initially, it was tough and I had to rely on others just as much as they relied on me. Interacting with people through a screen just doesn’t have the immediacy or intimacy of a face-to-face communication, so in that respect, it was an uncomfortable shift. All the projects that I had launched focused on establishing a sense of normality and maintaining the social connection between students. Additionally, knowing how difficult this shift was for everyone, I made it my priority to check in with people individually to see how they were going.”
Wangshu describes herself as a people person and as such, her leadership style is intimate and communicative.
“I believe the best kinds of leaders work from within and know the people that they are leading. I want to make leadership appear attainable for everyone, so I’m open in discussions about my mistakes and try to ground myself as much as possible. When I leave school, I want to leave knowing that I’ve inspired a new wave of leaders, who will continue to nurture the school community.”
The World Economic Forum this year stated that we need a new kind of leadership.
“Leaders who admit to their limitations, are open about challenges, and reduce the distance between them and us. In short, we need our leaders to “be real,” in at least three ways: be humble…be open…be committed.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is one female leader who is an example of this. She has led her country through not only a pandemic, but sadly, a terrorist attack and a volcanic eruption—all with compassion and humility that became recognised on the world stage.
It is such a valuable experience being a leader in 2020. This is not only the opportunity to learn how to be agile, but it is also a time to contribute to history. Wangshu Ma concludes by saying, “In such strenuous times, everyone should seek for opportunities to be a leader. Even if it’s in small ways, hope and solidarity are things that we desperately need to maintain.”