Friday, 16 May 2014

Leading, but not up the garden path

It is “Proud to be indigenous week”, so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what I admire in the Aboriginal leaders who have made an impression on me. This week has also been the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and we have many of our great leaders there.

Leadership is not something I aspire too, however from time to time I wonder if I was to be a leader, what qualities I would need to be successful.

It is very easy to sit back and criticise but very few people seem to consider our strengths.
 As a semi-young Aboriginal woman, (at 33 I am not youth, middle aged or elderly) I have already met some amazing people in my life. Many of these amazing people have assisted in shaping me into the person that I am. My mum, of course, is one of them. While these people know I value them, I want to share with you, why.

Qualities I admire in an Aboriginal leader:

The Mentor - leaders who mentor the next generation. Those who see the future of our people in the passion, desire and drive of youth. They help shape them into a force to be reckoned with. These leaders spend the time, time they often don’t have, ensuring that Aboriginal people will have more amazing leaders to be proud of in the future.

The visionary - fearless leaders who at times have had to go it alone, who have faced immense challenges but because of their vision and passion to keep moving forward.

The lateral thinker - these leaders challenge the norm; will not, do not accept that things have to stay the same because they have always been that way. These people’s ideas may seem wacky or too hard to start with but they always seem to pull of the big jobs.

The fighter – the leader who despite numerous knock downs refuses to give in or give-up. They will fight until their last breath regardless of the personal cost.

The quite achiever- This leader often get the least amount of notice. They are steady and methodical, shying away from the limelight but are always working towards the goal of creating a better future for us.

The rule breaker  - The leader who doesn’t think like other people, that sees rules as guidelines and who will, when the rules hamper the outcome, sidestep them and make it work for our people.

The networker – the leader who, through their connections can make things happen to the benefit of our Peoples. They bring with them a horde of people which cannot be ignored.

The get in and just do it –They are the people who will just do what needs to be done. They have no problems getting their hands dirty and it doesn’t matter if it is packing boxes or being on the mic, they are up for the task.

The fountain of knowledge – these leaders are the one you go to when you need to know anything about anything. They seem to be a walking encyclopaedia. They crave knowledge above all else because they know it is through knowledge we can fight.

The communicator – this person can say things that most people could never say, should never say, but they do it with such finesse that the message is not lost nor offensive.

The community minded- This leader puts their community and other Aboriginal people before themselves. They are not interested in the attention, the acclaim or the pay packet. They are work to assist in making the future of our Peoples better.

The collaborator – this leader works in collaboration with everyone regardless of age and experience. They see value in life experience as much as education and always make sure that the people they are working with feel valued. Respect and trust is the key to the way they do business!

The one thing all Aboriginal leaders I admire have in common is that they are there for our Peoples rather than themselves. They use WE not I.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is just a few qualities that are really valuable to me. Qualities that make me proud to be Aboriginal woman. I hope it has prompted you to consider our strengths not just the negatives.