Leaders Among Us: Part 1

Graphics by: Erika Montenegro

There are leaders all around the world, but let us not forget the leaders in our day-to-day life. We have a set of leaders that we interviewed in order to understand their perspective. We have asked them a few questions that will paint us a picture of their world of responsibility and courage. We asked a set of ladies namely Ara Vera Cruz, the captain of the Enderun Dance Crew; Caemil Sunga, the EXECOMM SHS Grade 11 Representative & Class President of 11A, Abbie Uy, the Assistant Editor-in-Chief “Writers Head” of Enderun INK & Spectrum President and Enderun Student Ambassador; Frances Reyes, the SHS EXECOMM Vice President; and Zoe Chan the Enderun Entrepreneurs Society President and a JPMorgan Chase & Co. Student Ambassador. All of these young women have stories and testimonies. With their answers, we hope you are enlightened by their tips, so you may become even better leaders in the future.

What inspired you to become a leader?

ARA: Ever since I was young, I found myself wanting to lead in small groups and as time went on, I found myself leading larger groups of people. I don’t remember a person or really something that inspired me to want to lead. It was more of a personal feeling that I suddenly felt in which I wanted to lead.

ABBIE: I don’t really view myself as a leader, rather, I think of myself as someone who works behind closed doors or in the shadows but makes a great impact on others. I think that it’s just in my nature to help and guide people. Through the years, I’ve leaned on to the quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” As I became a helping hand to others, I developed a sense of leadership on my own. Thus, I took the initiative to join committees and leadership positions that molded me into the person I am today.

ZOE: I saw the opportunity to become a leader, and throughout the process of developing my skills and gaining the exposure I needed to become one, I realized the value that I can bring in a team. This made me pursue this road even more. In addition, seeing the achievements and capabilities of seniors inspired me to do the same. I wanted to know what they knew and I wanted to do what they did.

CAEMIL: My biggest inspiration on becoming a leader is honestly myself because I try to work hard and to always improve on all my weaknesses to be able to see a better version of myself.

FRANCES: I believe for you to become a leader you should have the will to serve first. Throughout high school, I found out that I find joy in helping my peers. I enjoyed being of service to them if they needed me. This is what ultimately led me to choose to become a leader.

What is your workload and how do you handle it?

ARA: I’m taking a lot of responsibilities in and out of school and they’re pretty much a lot. How I handle them is by not overextending myself. I don’t take on roles where I know I cannot handle and give my 100% best. I do not like being half-hearted on what I’m doing which is why before I take on a responsibility, I think a lot about it. Time management is also important because with all the workload I have. I must know which I need to prioritize. I handle all my work by plotting it all down in my calendar so that I wouldn’t miss out on anything.

ABBIE: I’m in my third year already so I’m mostly taking major subjects that require heavy paperwork and presentations. I’m also currently active in three school organizations and my role for each is pretty significant and loaded. With this, I also have to maintain a healthy personal and social life. Combining this altogether, I would say I have a lot on my plate at the moment. It’s difficult balancing all of this, especially at first, because it feels overwhelming to be carrying so much on your back. But I think with this alone, I learned the art of time management. I make a tracker and a personal calendar. The tracker helps me monitor my progress and the personal calendar allows me to set deadlines for myself. It also gives me an overview of when I can squeeze in work responsibilities and personal time.

ZOE: I’m taking 15 units and a full-time internship. I hold five leadership positions in school and three outside school. Being able to manage my priorities and time well has helped me greatly in handling all my commitments. I understand the weight of what I do and if I ever missed a deliverable. Keeping the right mindset reminds me of the importance of my responsibilities. Onto more concrete tips, I set alarms at different times of the day because I tend to get lost in time when I work. I keep a calendar of activities for the next three months, and revise them as needed. From that, I create a to-do list per day. I plan out my goals by creating actionable steps on my personal calendar. In the calendar, I make sure to set aside personal time. I usually have my personal time on Sundays when I can. I have a social life with very clingy friends but I do not mind going home the earliest or missing out.

CAEMIL: As a member of the senior high school’s executive committee and as the president of our class it becomes really difficult at times. Especially with balancing our meetings and school work. However, I see to it to always accomplish everything needed on time and with quality. I do this by making sure that I am able to manage my time properly.

FRANCES: Because I am part of the SHS EXECOMM and six other student organizations, trying to maintain my grades could be challenging because my workload is quite heavy. However, it’s all about how you manage your time. At the end of the day, it’s about priorities. My grades and EXECOMM will always be my number one priorities. When doing a task, I do it in the order of what needs to be finished as soon as possible before I move on to the next task.

What are your leadership traits?

ARA: I’m compassionate. It’s as simple as being kind to everyone and aware that they make mistakes and must understand that everyone is going through something. As a captain of a team, I always make sure that I have everyone in check.I always make sure that I don’t step on anyone and that my words are not too harsh. I believe I’m a compassionate leader because I see to it that I’m thoughtful and that I relate to each and everyone of them at a much deeper level.

ABBIE: My ability to listen, communicate, and take initiative. I think these qualities are often overlooked and underestimated. My organization skills are also a big plus as it helps ensure I’m always on track of not only myself, but with everyone I’m working with.

ZOE: I would say that my leadership traits are communication, organization, and accountability. I make sure that my messages are clear and that the whole team is well-informed. For instance, when we have brainstorming sessions, I throw in questions that give structure to the meeting and end everything with action items. I always take ownership in what I do, which is why I put a lot of effort in my work, and I do not submit things half-baked. I also take accountability for my actions, which is why I try not to mess up, because it affects the whole team. But if I do, I apologize.

CAEMIL: My biggest leadership trait is being a people person which means getting along well with other people. Being a leader means having to be organized at all times. I also believe that empowering my team or my class is one of my leadership traits as I see to it that I am always there to cheer and motivate them. Communicating effectively is also my leadership trait. I make sure to hear the opinions and reactions of each and everyone.

FRANCES: A leadership trait that I have that stands out the most would be my ability to communicate well. I’m a pretty social person. I love people. So it is definitely an upper hand for me that I enjoy spending time with my batchmates from the other sections and my own, or the sections in the lower batch as well. I believe that through that I get to hear their suggestions for EXECOMM events and include those in my suggestions when we have meetings so that everyone gets to be included in school events as much as possible. Another leadership trait that I believe I possess is my optimism. In every scenario, I like to think of the brighter side of the story. I like to stay optimistic even if things are not going to plan, there’s always a way we can make it better or fix it.

What experience made you a better leader?

ARA: There are a lot of experiences wherein I find myself improving. When in times of failure or struggle, I become a better leader because those times are the times wherein the team needs the leader the most. You must not show signs of weakness because the team will lose confidence. When in times of success on the other hand, I also find myself wanting to be better because the bar just gets higher and higher. I see to it that in every situation I would always be eager to learn and to make myself better as a leader and as a member of a team.

ABBIE: When I became President of Enderun Spectrum, I became harsh to myself due to the expectations I set when I landed the role. So when I headed to my first event, which was the first General Assembly, I felt so overwhelmed and pressured. Despite it being a success, a part of me was disappointed in myself because I felt I failed my members as well. Regardless, I think that event not only brought the team closer, it also helped improve my communication skills.

ZOE: I have several goals and in order to achieve them I have to juggle multiple commitments at the same time, which urged me to be a better leader. The by-product of this is now being put on a pedestal by key individuals in school and my community, which ultimately made me strive to do my best in every class, event, and project. But I never beat myself up whenever I fail nor do I feel embarrassed. There are so many more opportunities to grab and there’s really not a lot of time to cry over spilled milk. I acknowledge my shortcomings, learn from them, and move on. Basically, having gained a lot of exposure allowed me to be a better leader.

CAEMIL: There is no particular experience on what made me a better leader. However I do believe I became a better leader because of all the guidance I got from my family and teachers.

FRANCES: In my earlier years of high school, I often volunteered to help my previous school’s student council with events. Similarly to Enderun, we had a welcome party for new students. It was with that experience that I was able to develop my people skills and better my confidence as I welcomed the new students to our school. I believe that this helped me be a better leader because it gave the new students a chance to lean on me when they had questions which trained me to be someone others can approach and rely on. There are a couple of traits that I think really helped me with developing my own leadership style.

What do you think is the importance of your role?

ARA: My role is to make sure that my team is growing or even in my other organizations as well. No progress is no growth. The importance of my role is that I need to keep everyone on check. It’s not an easy role but that’s what being a leader is. It’s a big responsibility for a leader to take in.

ABBIE: I think it’s really about inspiring and motivating others to be the best versions of themselves. Apart from overseeing everything and being on top management, it’s also important to be a person who everyone can lean on.

ZOE: There are many facets to being a student leader, but it is important to remember to lead by example. I always try to find my role in the whole dynamic. I may not always be the leader. I could be the member. I don’t always have to be the mentor. I could also be the mentee. It’s important to stay humble and maintain the proper work environment for my team. My role is to make sure everybody is aligned with their positions and provide opportunities for them to grow. I’m also just a student like they are, so I always take into account each of their opinions. My goal is to empower my team to be the best versions of themselves. I cannot dictate their potential or limitations. I can only provide them support and avenues to utilize for their own growth and development. I give them all the information, and it’s up to them on how they take initiative with it. I do not shut down any ideas and I always acknowledge the efforts of each member. I always make sure they feel valued.

CAEMIL: The importance of my role is to be able to lead and guide my team in becoming better. To hear out those who cannot be heard and speak for those who are too afraid to speak.

FRANCES: As a member of EXECOMM in general, the importance of my role is that I need to be someone my peers can look up to. I need to be someone who would help inspire my peers. I need to be someone they can trust and rely on in order for them to be able to approach us (EXECOMM) if they have an issue that they feel needs to be addressed. Having my role as EXECOMM VP gives me the opportunity to create programs that would benefit the student body and could promote camaraderie, teamwork, and mutual respect.

How would you define a leader?

ARA: A leader is determined. Determined to accomplish a specific goal. If a leader is not determined then there would be no motivation without you and your group. If there is no motivation, there would be no progress or the quality of your work is poor. It must all start with the leader. A determined leader inspires the group to be confident even in times of struggle.

ABBIE: For me, a leader is beyond titles and positions. It’s someone who strives to bring out the best in people and is constantly supportive of other people’s passions. A leader is dedicated to not only reaching the goal, but also helping each other grow along the way. In line with this, he/she needs to be willing to go the extra mile to check up on everyone if they’re doing okay or not. A good leader is someone who can own up to his or her mistakes and is able to hold herself or himself accountable when necessary.

ZOE: “Leadership isn’t a position, it’s an action.” – Donald H. McGannon
Holding the highest position does not give license to mistreat a team member. It’s not about the title, but it’s about what you can do with it. I don’t take pride in the positions I hold, but the contribution I’ve made holding these roles. I believe that a leadership position is a platform to do something impactful and valuable. Being the leader does not mean you are the best or the most expert in a topic. I learned that delegation is key to leadership, and everything is a team effort. Whether it is a success or a failure, it’s a “we”, and not an “I”.

CAEMIL: A leader is someone who is not perfect but rather someone who is not afraid to change for the better. Leaders are the ones who will guide us and be there for us even in the toughest of times. Leader’s will give us motivation to always keep going and to strive for the better.

FRANCES: I would define a leader as someone who is ready to listen to their peers. Someone who is willing to help unite a group. I think a leader is somebody who will be ready to step up when nobody else will.

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders?

ARA: An advice I can give to aspiring leaders is to always know your purpose. Why are you doing it in the first place? Ask yourself that because a leader who knows his or her purpose is a good leader. Are you leading just for the sake of the title? Who are you doing it for? Some questions to ponder on because a good leader is a leader who does it not for himself or herself but for the growth of the team. A good leader is a learner and a listener. One must not just keep on leading. Leadership is all about listening. Take the time to learn to hear what your team or members have to say.

ABBIE: Always keep an open mind. Take a step back to listen to the people in the room. Be open to ideas, suggestions, and any kind of feedback. Practice the art of consistency and perseverance. Nothing ever comes easy and you’ll always encounter obstacles that will demotivate you. Take this as a challenge to push you out of your comfort zone and discover something new along the way. Have the mindset that you’re continuously growing and learning.

ZOE: Do not feel threatened by people who are better than you. Regardless of your age, be mature and professional, but also strive to be approachable. Do not put a wall between you and your team based on hierarchy, but respect boundaries. Also, find mentors for different areas. It could be anyone: a college senior, alumna, professor, or internship manager. Ask them questions, and see how you can use their advice and experience to create your own blueprint in life.

CAEMIL: For all the aspiring leaders out there the best advice I could give you is to never be afraid to fail and make mistakes along the way. Do not be afraid of failure. Because failure is your starting point for success.

FRANCES: First, be willing to become a servant leader before anything else. Because that type of leadership is about listening and taking action for the needs of others. It’s about prioritizing the greater good and collaborating with the students. This would give the student body a chance to contribute their ideas for us to reach a common goal.

If you’ve made it this far, we hope you learned more about the qualities and habits you need to work on to become the best leader you can be. A leader is more than just a position or title. It is about mutual respect and care so that you and your team can achieve much greater heights. If you are a low key leader reading this, keep fighting! Keep having that passion for your work, and we hope that your passion spreads to those around you. Stay consistent, determined, and motivated. Your talent in leadership is a gift and blessing to others. You may not even know it. For those that want to start stepping up into becoming leaders, we hope that you have gained the confidence to start speaking up. Focus on your purpose and keep up the progress. You cannot grow without watering the plant just like our skills. You cannot become a better leader if you do not practice your skills. The question I would like to leave you with is this. “What style of leadership do you want to have, and how do you think that will help others?” Stay humble and compassionate, leaders! You have a bright future ahead. It will become even brighter the more you light up people’s hearts.

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