Learning Leadership

Leadership is a soft skill that is highly valued in the professional field. Most of the time it means that you are a fair and inclusive leader when it comes to group or team projects. That is, you give every team member the chance to speak and to be listened to and that you lead the team in a way that is best for the company as a whole.

In the past I did not consider myself to be a leader, because I always thought of it as an intimidating role to take on. I would always think about the worst possible scenarios, that is, if I did something wrong, I would be the one that would get blamed . In other words, I was scared that others would perceive me as a weak or incompetent leader if I did not complete the task up to the company’s standards every single time. I wanted to avoid this embarrassment as much as possible and that is the reason why I would refrain from taking on these roles.

However, I have noticed that that mentality has been slowly fading due to a couple of reasons. I think that the industry I have entered has forced me to be a leader regardless of my position. In addition that, I think I have learned that even as a leader it is okay to make mistakes and to ask questions when in doubt. As always, I have an anecdote for all of you!

The other day I was causally at my desk completing a task when I was suddenly approached by my boss. I could tell that he was flustered because he asked me to stop what I was doing and to follow him to his desk. He explained to me how he wanted me to make an important phone call to the ex-ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom. He wanted to call the ex-Israeli ambassador so he could bring him in for an interview to discuss the relations between Israel and the United Kingdom. My boss further explained to me that since the ex-ambassador did not know French and that he himself had a heavy English accent, he needed someone who knew English perfectly. Thus, I was given the leadership role to fulfill. I was terrified, but I had to do it. So what did I do? I called him and introduced myself as a journalist who wanted to invite him to talk about the relations between the two countries. What did he say? He responded that he was on a trip in Spain and did not have time for any of this.

I was crushed! Not only did I feel like I was given a simple task to complete, but I also felt like I failed at being a leader. It was a moment that was hard for me to come to terms with because I always thought that leaders never failed at anything. However, since my boss realized that I was not proud of myself he told me to not worry about it too much since the call was not planned at all. He continued to explain that sometimes journalists have to deal with denial and that not every cold call will be successful.

Overall, I think journalists have to constantly take on that leadership role. They have to communicate with politicians, celebrities, authors, directors, etc if they want a guest speaker to speak on a certain matter. In order to get in touch with these individuals they have to have the courage and leadership skills. However, in this case leadership does not mean that every task has to be done perfectly or without failure and denial, but instead it means that you take on this role and are ready to face that failure and denial head on if it occurs.

The mistake that I made in the past is that I did not push myself enough to take on leadership roles. In other words, in the past I was either not exposed to or I did not want to take on that role in school during my day to day life . This, I think was what led me to think that leaders are flawless and do not make mistakes. However, I am fortunate that this international internship has pushed me to think differently especially when taking on leadership roles. Overall it has taught me to be courageous and to not be afraid of making mistakes especially when being in a position of a leader!