Leadership Journey of a President

Over the course of the last 4 months, I’ve been in the largest leadership position thus far: becoming the president of AIESEC Laurier, a completely student volunteered organization that facilitates international internships. It started with choosing the executive team. I was given the constant advice of go with your gut feeling; skills or not, go with your gut feeling. For the most part – I did just that, having a vision and goal of where I wanted to see this organization, I kept pushing towards it. My leadership style is also very different from the two previous presidents. I’m not interested in the micro details of implementing strategies, nor am I macro where the team has the freedom to do anything they want. Because of that, I have gotten feedback of not caring.

Another comment that I was given multiple times from previous presidents is that the position of president is a very lonely one; that people will come to you and complain about other people, but you will not have anyone to reciprocate your feelings to. I agree with that completely, however, I think the bigger challenge that I had was the fact that as a vice president, you still knew who you were accountable to, what your measures of success(MoS) is and who to go to if you needed direction. Direction… the one thing that I had the most trouble with. Not having any sort of key deliverables or any operational tasks, I was lost for most of the time. And because of that, the only thing that I knew I could do at that time was to constantly check up (read that as hound) on my VPs and the known MoS.

With that style (and of course – with the senior leadership team that I chose), our results is approximately 60% of where I wanted to see it. Delivering over 2x the amount of international experiences in a third of the time, we are in the top 5 (of 30) universities. We had approximately 2% of our school population explicitly sign up to learn about our program, reaching the number that I got to at the end of my VP term two years ago. From an external perspective, we have had more sales activities in 1/3 of the time. Moreover, the event that we just held brought in about 50 individuals and a very strong lead resulted in it. On a more internal perspective, members are staying active and are constantly challenged to improve their ability to perform. Not only is our finance team actively making and tracking investments, but they are also researching into one of the coolest investments that I know of. All in all, the local committee was booming in growth and the klout for AIESEC Laurier was growing both with students and with companies.

I too found my path. Something operational yet strategic that I can do. It’s kind of cool how much more klout you have with the title president. I’ve been using it all this time to get meetings with deans (I’m sure you can still book a meeting with them without that kind of title) and been focusing on conversations about officially partnering with faculty to provide the students with an integrated learning experience. I’ve also had the opportunity to present AIESEC and our current road blocks to an advisory council that consists of established entrepreneurs to senior management of publically traded companies. But more importantly, I know that my work is going to further increase the impact that AIESEC Laurier can create in the future.

On a less sunny side, I have had VPs think that they have no voice at meetings, VPs afraid to tell me what they think. VPs where their team had to get fired and VPs where their members would like to leave for another team after this semester. Teams are not helping one another because the other team never helped them in the past. And of course, the big one of we’re volunteers; stop making us do so much work.

Although those are some pretty bad outcomes, I’m quite happy to see that. It means that I have something to work on as an individual and it also means that these VPs still have a lot of growth opportunities. Of course, if you have any suggestions on anything, please leave a message!

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