What cultural norm(s) of the host country do you anticipate being a challenge to learning about leadership? Why?
One cultural norm that I anticipate posing a challenge to learning about leadership in India is regarding the difference between Individualism and Collectivism. If you use the Hofstede’s Insights tool, then you can see how India when compared to the US, the US scores much higher in Individualism than India. Within countries that are highly individualistic, its members are more likely to look after themselves and their direct family. In collectivist societies, individuals value “in-group” cooperation and take care of others outside of their direct family circle “in exchange for loyalty.” Since group cooperation is much more valued here in India, I anticipate my tendency to lean towards individualism to be challenged. As a person, greatly value my independence and often feel stubborn when having to make decisions for the greater of the group. A question I have going forward is how much feelings of independence can co-exist within collectivist societies?
What do you think is the hardest part about being a good leader?
This is why I think that the hardest part about being a good leader is selflessness. Some of the best leaders that I have had have given up their own personal time to be there for the people they led. In high school, I had a cross country coach who would drive students’ home after practice because he knew that many of us grew up in families where both parents worked. I probably got a ride home from him almost every day. Sometimes, his car would be packed with students sitting in his trunk. No matter how chaotic things got, he always managed to find a way to stay patient and even looked like he had fun doing it. Most of all, it really showed that he genuinely cared about everyone not only as an athlete, but all of us as people. Many people would immediately drive home after practice, but my coach showed his selflessness by putting the desires of the group above his own personal desires which is something I greatly admire.
Are leaders born or made? Why?
I believe that great leaders like my high school coach are made, not born (mostly). I do feel as though some people have personality traits that lend more naturally to leadership, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better leaders. In addition, I think that many of the qualities of great leaders are skills that are not innate but can be built over time through self-discovery, practice, and experience. Everyone has different strengths and personalities that result in a variety of different leadership styles with no one way being the correct way. For example, while someone’s extraversion may naturally influence others, another’s calm reserve may also gain the respect of followers. The most important aspect of leadership is that leaders learns how they can gain the trust of their followers. How get there is up to them to develop with their own personal leadership style.