Niagara Gazette

Features

September 17, 2012

LEADERSHIP IN ACTION: Traveling to Haiti requires strength of conviction

Niagara Gazette — Three years ago I was faced with a dilemma. During my first month as director of Leadership Niagara, one of our class members called to notify me that she would not be attending our health care session.

As many know, the Leadership Niagara program draws people from all walks of life who are looking to build their leadership skills and network with other leaders.  Each year a new class of leaders signs up for experiences through our program and we work together through a variety of experiences to evolve together as stronger leaders.

This classmate had a great fear of the medical industry due to the way she felt her mother was treated before her death.  She experienced a lot of anger and fear about entering the facility.

Immediately I understood her fears and I wanted to provide comfort and tell her it was okay not to attend.  However, my understanding of leadership set in. I knew this was a challenge for her and one I needed to see her succeed through. Ultimately she found the courage and confidence to participate in the day and thanked me for it.  The class pointed to this as an example of personal leadership in action and it helped set our organization in a new direction.

To me that is what leadership development is all about — keeping our class members fully engaged, trying new things, acting boldly, and making a difference.  I know that leadership demands sacrifice and risk and I don’t expect others to take greater risks or sacrifices than I am willing to make.  So when I was asked last month to travel to Haiti to explore a potential leadership partnership, I jumped at the opportunity.

In the two weeks I had to prepare for the trip I was questioned as to why, as a mother of four children, I would want to travel to Haiti and to leave what is comfortable and familiar. 

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