“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

No one is born a leader. To say that someone was naturally bestowed with the talent to lead others is to take away value from having this ability, and to deny credit where it’s due. We often take leadership for granted; we all see the great speech or the revolutionary idea, but no one recognizes the pastor who built a ramp for his church so that even the handicapped could experience God, or the boy who donates all the spare change he’s ever saved to fund a refugee shelter. Leadership is the biggest of visions, but it’s also the smallest of details; it’s the smallest of successes, but also the biggest of failures (and learning from them). We choose to learn to lead not for ourselves, but for others; our goal is not to have the most people following our path, but the most people inspired enough by our path to create their own.

Every milestone in a journey is a checkpoint for reflection, and these were the exact thoughts on leadership wandering in my mind as I made the trek to Toronto this winter break. Seven exhilarating and exhausting days of National Sales Program pre-con and National Congress (NC) later, my time in Toronto this winter still wasn’t done. There was one more stop before heading home: the Winter 2014 National Support Team (NST) Summit.

AIESEC Canada is run both from a national and a local level, under the leadership of the Member Committee (MC) and Local Committees (LCs) respectively. In between is the National Support Team, or the NST. This team, made up of some of AIESEC Canada’s brightest minds in all functions, ensures that, as an entity, AIESEC Canada maintains high synergy between MC strategy driving LC growth, and LC contributions driving national growth. I had the honour and privilege of being selected, along with fellow AIESEC UBC members Michael Shao, Amanda Hung and Karena Yeung, onto the NST team for the Winter 2014 term to help see our national vision through and drive incredible results across the country!

Each MC VP leads a team of NST members who are responsible for that specific function on a national level. I was attending NST Summit as an incoming National Coach for Incoming Exchange (ICX) in New Sales for the Coastal Region, which includes the four LC’s in Vancouver (UBC, SFU, KPU) and Victoria (UVic). We had a total of ten team members, along with our NST Team Leaders (TL’s) Cindy Nguyen and Kyler Baker, all working with our MC VP CR, Kaylee Muise, to plan national strategy in ICX for the next six months.

As an AIESECer, we’re used to being surrounded by great leaders all the time, but the people I had a chance to meet and talk to that weekend were in a league of their own. All walks of AIESEC experience were in attendance, whether they be former Vice Presidents (VP’s) and Local Committee Presidents (LCP’s), current VP’s, NST members and TL’s from last term, and, of course, the current MC. Having been through a year as a VP on AIESEC UBC’s Executive Board (EB), the team we had assembled felt very much like a larger version of it. It was like we were creating our own Year Plan, except on a national level, and we only had six months to achieve everything we wanted to do.

Admittedly, it was an adjustment moving from an EB role to an NST role.. It was weird being on the NST at first: I was no longer the one calling companies, or attending sales meetings, or managing my team. The detachment was definitely refreshing, but sometimes I inevitably had to catch myself when I picked up the phone and started dialing. Once I settled into coaching, though, I realized that this was a whole new experience for me, and I loved it. The pressure’s off just a bit, and I get to see my amazing VP’s in the Coastal region grow and do incredible things every day.

The ICX NST team! (missing: our MC VP CR Kaylee Muise, and Account Delivery Coach Ijaz Rahim)

The summit itself started off with a follow-up on the brand new LEAD session delivered by Staci, a representative from our national learning partner, ICA Canada, to the NST and incoming LCP’s at NC, where functional coaches were given methodologies for facilitating conversations and working with their regional VP’s. After spending some time looking at overall realities across the country, we spent the rest of the summit within our functional teams, planning initiatives and setting goals for our term ahead. Having been a part of the national initiatives as a VP, it was even more exciting now that I was actually working on them. The ICX NST created some great synergy and big goals at the summit, and we can’t wait to share them with the rest of Canada!

Working on the NST now reminds me of a conversation I had with another AIESECer when I first joined the organization. The only way to go in AIESEC, she had said, is usually to go up. It didn’t make sense to me at first; I thought it was ridiculous there was an unwritten rule that once you were finished your term as VP, LCP or any other leadership role in AIESEC, either you moved on to a position that took on a larger role or you became an alumnus. Being a member was an amazing experience, and one that could last as long as I wanted; why couldn’t I just do that?

Thinking about it now, I realize what she said makes perfect sense. Just based on AIESEC’s mandate to develop leaders through experiential learning, it’s only a logical next step to “move up.” Looking back on my own experience, I never predicted the positions I would take or apply for beforehand; but maybe that was the beauty of it, to forgo planning it all out and instead seeing where the journey can actually take you.

Jack Welch’s quote on leadership was one I discovered just after my selection onto the NST, and it’s one that resonates strongly for me. After being in AIESEC to develop myself, this role will allow me to take what I’ve learned and help others have that same experience. I never would’ve thought I’d come this far in my AIESEC journey so far, and who knows where it’ll take me (hopefully on exchange!) NST Summit was the platform for a new opportunity to impact this organization, and I can’t wait to see what happens this term!

By Andres Lee, National Support Team | Incoming Exchange