How is Leadership Defined in This Modern World?
An interview with Ms. Mira Mahathir, President of the Student Council 2021-2022
Conventional views on leadership consist of an authoritative person ordering their subordinates to perform tasks while remaining in their position. Contrary to this traditional stance, numerous famous and historical leaders have said otherwise. Notably, Nelson Mandela once said, “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
Today’s views on leadership in corporations portray a dynamic and skillful figure, emerging from any position in the organization. Vohra et al., (2015) in their research design concluded that leadership is defined as, “someone who helps the team members discover their own potential.” They later add that a leader should support their team in bringing them to the desired result of their effort. To accomplish this, they must listen to criticism, take risks, be of middle ground, motivate others, and continuously develop their skills.
To learn more about what it’s like to be in a student leadership position, we took some time to sit down and talk with this year’s student council president, Mira Mahathir, and gained some fascinating insights into her role.
Tell us why you wanted to become president of the student council.
I’ve watched RAS grow in the past seven years, from the old campus to the new, from middle school to high school. Being my senior year, I found that becoming the student council president would give me the final opportunity to leave a legacy behind and help out with the school as best as possible. Additionally, It would allow me to foster life-long valuable skills such as leadership, communication, and teamwork, which is why I wanted to become the student council president.
What are some things you like as a leader?
I enjoy being the leader in that I could work along with other students and teachers to turn our visions into reality, work behind the scenes and get the inside scoop on events and activities, and overall have a good time while doing it. To lead and organize the plans students want and deliver is tremendously rewarding and fulfilling.
What do you think are the three most important leadership qualities?
Communication, self-awareness, and initiative; Communication is key to being a good leader because you have to interact with different types of people, in my case with students of all grades, teachers, principals, staff members, and even outside organizations. Self-awareness is taking in criticisms and improving upon them, constantly pushing yourself to be better. Finally, with initiative, you can have the creativity and motivation to create different events and activities to the best of your ability.
What’s one occasion you had to think of something creative?
Due to the disruptive nature of the pandemic and with people being in and out of campus, I always had to think of creative ways to incorporate everyone. On one occasion, when students could return to campus by grade level for the first time this year, the Student Council found various ways to welcome them back, some with the purchase of chocolates and other times with making a creative sign.
Do you have a leader role model that inspires you?
The previous leaders for Student Council have always been my role models because they were put in the same position. Every event that has happened in previous years under their leadership, I try to keep it as a tradition and add to them.
As a senior preparing to leave school, is it difficult to balance academics, college applications, and this role? Why or why not?
It is definitely challenging to balance everything because they’re all equally important responsibilities, from my academics and college applications to being a leader for the Student Council. Everything in between requires me to be diligent with a focused goal to complete my responsibilities successfully. It seems impossible to do everything at times, but good time management and support from peers make the role much more effortless.
What would you advise others who are thinking about becoming a leader?
Being a leader is a commitment and a responsibility. Remember to always take some time out for your own personal reflection and well-being. Leadership isn’t just about leading, it is also about understanding your limitations as well as finding balance with your peers in your shared workspace. While you feel like you must take charge of everything, it’s okay to lean on others and be able to work together.
What student council-led events are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to this second half of the year where we will hopefully be able to do events like Spirit Week, Lock-in, Prom, and other smaller activities in between.
How has RAS prepared you for being a great leader?
RAS has provided me with the opportunity to grow, not just as a leader but as a person. The challenges and obstacles helped me step out of my comfort zone and taught me to problem solve, communicate, organize, and build skills in ways I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I see myself still discovering and exploring the world around me by stretching out my interests and passions every waking hour. I see myself within the social science area, and hopefully, I am advanced in my career, potentially taking higher roles and continue using my leadership skills to accomplish this.
You can also find Mira’s interview by clicking on the video below.
Written by Jumana Raggam
Special thanks to Mira Mahathir