My leadership story so far.

Barbara – Haileybury School, Australia

Leadership is a very interesting thing. I always believed that it could not be taught, but was a natural talent, strengthened by experience. And while this is somewhat true, I could not be where I am today, in the leadership position, without the generous help and teachings of Future Foundations.

I’ve recently been elected into the position as the Head Girl of Haileybury College, a co-educational independent school located in the heart of Melbourne, Australia (it’s actually quite a distance from the CBD, but for the purposes of this article; Melbourne has a large heart that reaches right to the edges of Brighton, Berwick and Keysborough – the three different Haileybury Campuses that collectively accommodate 3500 students from Pre-Prep to Year 12).

Beside the fact that the role is accompanied by heavy academic and behavioural expectations, the idea of leading and representing 3500 unique individuals frightens me beyond belief. It’s a heavy responsibility to carry with a mere 17 years of life experience on my résumé, and with even less leadership experience. Despite the daunting expectations and arguable lack of experience, I find myself in a relatively calm and self-assured mind-set for the coming year. The Global Social Leaders program that I attended for two weeks this past year has played an inexplicably large part in helping me achieve such positivity and confidence about what lies ahead.

I went into the two weeks open minded but with high expectations (the plane trip was 23 hours long – nothing but the best was expected). As it turns out, the two weeks I spent in England with the amazing Future Foundations staff and GSL participants exceeded any and all of my expectations. The two weeks ended up as some of the best, most memorable and productive weeks for me in a very, very long time. It was truly a refreshing and eye-opening two weeks. Not a single day went by without me soaking up inspiration and knowledge about leadership, about myself, and about the different cultures and lifestyles of my new friends from around the globe.

I’ve been to what one would call a fair number of leadership programs, seminars and conferences in my years at school. I’ve accumulated some knowledge that money can’t buy and some very useful skills. But never, have I attended a program such as GSL that focuses so specifically on every single individual’s success; both on and off the leadership spectrum.

If I was to delve into the specifics of all my experiences and my learnings at GSL, you’d still be reading this tomorrow morning, but I believe that there was one very specific lesson about leadership that struck a chord with me and will most definitely stay in the forefront of my mind for this coming year. That lesson, in short, is the idea that team failure can ultimately be boiled to the fact that a team isn’t empowered. “So, so simple” I remember thinking.

While in practice empowering a team isn’t as easy as in theory, it is completely achievable with the right attitude and skills. In fact, I’ve made it my personal goal for 2015: to enable the various teams that I work with to achieve success in all its forms; and to inspire the amazing, talented and unique team that I have the privilege of leading and representing; Haileybury college. No longer do I have the somewhat ignorant mentality that team failure is everyone else’s fault except mine, but rather that team failure is simply the result of bad leadership. And for that reason, I cannot thank GSL enough for refreshing me with reality, and in doing so, also equipping me, a little-below-height-average-17-year-old, with the capacity to be able to open-mindedly lead and empower my team of 3500.

Future Foundations has inspired me to better myself both on a personal level and as a leader. I wish to return the favour by inspiring my little part of the world to strive for better, and to strive for the bright future that we all want to see ourselves a part of.