In my opinion, the definition of a leader should incorporate a broad concept of a person who is able not only to lead other people, but, more importantly, this person should know how to lead himself. Hence, a true leadership starts from the leader’s self-organization, boldness, and purposefulness. Everyone can give orders, but a few can be real leaders. At this point, it is necessary to distinguish a formal leader, a person who has the authority to give order that does not automatically make him a leader, and a true leader, a person able to lead himself and other people to achieve the set goal. My earliest experience of being a leader was back in my childhood when I was only an elementary school student. Definitely, leadership experiences at school can help an individual to gain more chances of becoming a leader at work. I felt more comfortable to be a leader, than people who have never had leadership experiences at school.
When I first started working for Protiviti, back in 2004, I told myself that I need to shine among all my peers and I need to take the leading position among them. The best way to shine is to be proactive and take initiatives, which are qualities essential for a person who wants to be a leader, which I possessed and used.
I volunteered to give training presentation about manufacturing cost accounting to consultants and managers, who had less experience in that area. During my second year with Protiviti, due to my proactive attitude toward work and my potential leadership abilities, one of our Managers at Protiviti was confident in my leadership abilities to the extent that he let me lead two new consultants working on one of the biggest clients I ever worked on. I was able to give guidance to the two consultants I supervised, and I motivated them by setting a group project deadline earlier than what the manager expected evoking in the consultants the expectation of a reward for their work. Eventually, we were able to finish the project prior to the deadline with appraise from the manager.
During my last year at Protiviti, I had managed to move up to a project lead position. This position granted me with the possibility to lead two consultants working on the mid-sized manufacturing client for four months. During this period of time, I performed the role of a manager rather than a senior project lead. For the Manager was supervising multiple projects and he trusted me enough to only come to visit this client once a week, while he spent most of the time at the other client. Now, I am working as a CFO for a start-up construction company, where I really feel being a leader not because of the title itself, but rather due to the nature of the work I am doing now. Before I started working at JL Management & Construction, most of my leadership experiences were leading consultants in completing assigned projects by the manager. Now, as a CFO of JL Management & Construction, I am glad that I am able to lead the whole company rather than just a few people.
Leading the company is very different from simply leading a group of people, since the leader, who leads the company, should go beyond the understanding of how to be a leader. In fact, he or she must have the broader knowledge in order to be able to lead a start-up company and make it a successful business. This is what I lack of at the moment, but I hope I can learn how to manage and lead an entrepreneur business, since my long-term goal is to start my own consultancy firm in China. In addition, I believe Kellogg’s experiential learning opportunity can help me substantially to gain the leadership experiences required for a start-up company as well as for a big corporation.