Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.

Team Leader’s Thoughts.

Posted in Cambodia on December 29, 2008

December 20th:
My in-country responsibilities of team leader are now complete. This morning Boonang took his final trip delivered those who must go home to the airport. We hugged. We said our," see ya later's". It was emotional. It was time. It has been a challenging, enjoyable and personally rewarding experience. Possessing an intimate understanding of the energy and skill required to successfully carry out an international volunteer experience from start to finish, I have a renewed admiration and respect for the volunteer cadre of Developing World Connections team leaders. On paper, a good team leader is organized, knowledgeable, good with people and a proactive problem solver, and this is true in practice. But for me, above all, this experience has challenged my notion of leadership and helped me improve on these skills. This group consisted of my own peers who are, in their own rights, very accomplished. Many are natural type A leaders. For those who excel at directing and managing people at home, I can appreciate the opposite challenge of letting go, being directed and trusting the process.

Any team leader can expect to be asked questions to which they won't necessarily have answers. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone in the business of wanting to improve their leadership and team work skills. I needed this experience to be reminded that true leadership is finding that fine and dynamic balance between being, at once, the assertive, confident, directive and decisive leader, and the leader who listens carefully and can build consensus. If this group is a microcosm for people in society in general, I have learned that any good leader must show the way with confidence and humility, and be transparent when the way isn't clear; he must involve people but make a timely decision; he must be committed to an idea and a process, but not married to the outcome. Earning people's trust is an achievement. Earning people's respect is an achievement. Earning people's trust and respect simultaneously is an admirable achievement. I don't pretend to great leadership, but I can say without hesitation that everybody was safe, comfortable and had a meaningful experience. To this extent, at very least, I am proud to report that this international volunteer experience was a resounding success.

Happy to be relieved of my duties and a bit overtired, it would be easy for me to romanticize the experience but trust me, we have had all had our ups and downs. Being in a group and in a developing country is not always easy and not for everybody. I come by my intentions in writing this blog honestly: I want people to better understand this experience; I want people to become interested in Developing World Connections; I want you to become part of the process. Yes, I have personal and professional vested interests, but they are valid and benevolent. You must not worry about having to read between the lines. My words are heartfelt and genuine.

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