The Value of the “Self” in Leadership

It was truly memorable being able to immerse ourselves in the rich culture and life of our Filipino friends during the 8th WYAAP ELC.

Being the only two foreign delegates there, we honestly did not know what to expect or how to react. We could still recall our initial reactions upon arriving at The Hills – we walked into the venue looking super lost and touristy, and suddenly one of the WYA Staff, Miko approached us and said “You guys must be Andrew and Rachel from Singapore, right?”. We were a little shocked as we tried our best to not stick out like sore thumbs, but unfortunately failed terribly.

The warmth and friendliness of the delegates and the facilitators alike made us feel welcomed and as part of the community. On the last day of the conference, we gathered around and had a mini showcase of our talents and we were blown away by the other delegates’ melodious voices and chic dance moves. One of the many songs which they sang in perfect harmony was “Sa Ngalan Ng Pag-Ibig”, which was hauntingly beautiful and breath-taking. On the other hand, we attempted to sing a Chinese song but failed rather miserably but was met with a warm reception and cheers by the delegates.

A Time for Reflection

This conference was a good reminder and checkpoint in our leadership journey. It allowed us much time to reflect and really consider the methods we use to lead and how we can continue to improve ourselves as future leaders. Furthermore, it truly made us question our goals for the future, and how exactly we would attain them (or if they were unrealistic).

During one of the workshops, we battled with what we wanted to do after graduation and it gave us the time and space to reflect and be honest with ourselves – do we take on a job with a flashy title or a job that gave us real purpose and meaning, though it may pay less? We believe that little push of realisation is needed as we discover what truly gives us purpose before planning our journeys ahead of us.

The friendships forged with the delegates was an invaluable experience. Meeting those who have been taking charge of their lives by striving for change at various levels and never faltering or fading in the pursuit of their ambitions, empowered us to do the same. In our busy and hectic lifestyle, while being dictated by society’s judgement and sticking by the template of what a student/youth should do, we often lose sight of our goals and begrudgingly conform. The individual experiences and personal struggles by these delegates have not only been an inspiration but rather a timely reminder for us to evaluate whether we have been sole set in achieving our goals while be truthful to ourselves or have we deviated to take the easy road out.

The Value of “Self” in Leadership

We think being a leader warrants us to always think about others, and not necessarily ourselves – Are our members growing? How can I be a better leader for them? Am I doing enough for my team? Are my members happy in where they are serving? It is a constant cycle of trying our best as leaders to ensure that the emotional, mental and physical health of our team is well taken care of, and that we as leaders, are doing a “good enough” job to sustain them.

BUT, if it’s one thing we would love to share with anyone reading this, it’s that BALANCE is so important. Learning how to be “selfish” and selfless at the right time and place is essential to us being good leaders. How can we give more out of an empty, worn-out tank? Learning how to take breaks, speaking to mentors and loving ourselves is of utmost importance to become optimum leaders for those around us. Never ever think your task is too small or insignificant; you truly will never know just how much impact you can have on someone through your leadership and nurturing.

Another realization that we have learnt and still trying to be better at, is to never fall in love with your ideas. As leaders, we have certain influence in the way we steer our team and community with our visions. Refusing to be open to feedback or pivoting our ideas would simply lead to fulfilling our own selfish desires, which may not always be the appropriate needs and wants of our community at that time. It is so essential that we use the power and influence we posses to empower and delegate the right resources and focus on real problems in our communities. If done right, your impact as a leader will truly make a difference.


Written by Rachel Olivia Chiu & Andrew James Tupaz, delegates of WYAAP’s 8th Emerging Leaders Conference

The Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC) is designed for young people and offers discussions, lectures, and training on topics relevant to ongoing international policy debates. Do you want in on the fun? More details here!