If anybody tells you that leadership is all fancy titles and smiles, don’t believe them. They don’t know what they are saying.
I look at myself and the person I see is almost unrecognisable to me. It is evident that I have grown in the past year. I have grown in diverse ways and I am thankful for this.
One of my goals at the start of my service year was to hone my leadership ability. I missed the opportunity in the orientation camp to be the chief medical director of the clinic because I was not the first doctor to arrive camp. Undeterred, I was committed to finding another opportunity to serve in a similar capacity. So, it was unsurprising when from my first day in my community development service (CDS) group meeting, the Medical and Health CDS, my interest and commitment to their activities was unmistakable.
Shortly after my batch of corp members joined, it was time for the reelection of leaders who will form the executive team of the group. Our group is a team of mostly health professionals and due to the peculiarity of our local government, Akure South, the seat of state government, it was pertinent that a doctor serves as the president of the group. Some persons did not like this and did not hesitate to say so. The outgoing president, whom I worked together with as a house officer in Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex wanted me to succeed her. The Project Coordinator, an alumnus of my alma mater, University of Port Harcourt wanted me to succeed him too. There was a conflict of interest, unbeknownst to both of them. Although I had nursed the dream of leading in the capacity of the group president, I felt unprepared for it.
As though my uncertainty with the timing of the opportunity was not enough, the outgoing project coordinator nominated me to fill his position and I was elected after acquiring the most votes. As a result, I was ineligible for the post of the president, the last post to be filled. My colleague was distraught as she hoped to pass the baton to me. No other doctor in the group was willing to take up the position. While some did not turn up for the election, others found reasons to excuse themselves, and so the burden of leadership fell greatly on my weak shoulders. Bickering and argument spread across the room. “Elect someone else! It does not have to be a doctor. They are not even willing,” they protested. I was unsure of how to manage the situation. I felt like I was the cause and the solution alike. A physiotherapist, who stood to assist the outgoing executives to manage the situation, was asked if he would mind being the president of the group. He said that he did not and was elected the president of our group.
Months later, he was passing out and the position of the president was vacant again. Someone asked if he could nominate me for the post. This time, I said I did not mind, and so I was made the president of the Medical and Health CDS group, Akure South local government area, Ondo state. There was no debate about it. I was informed, willing and ready to contribute my quota to the success of the group. It was challenging, fulfilling and my absolute honour to have led a team of intelligent and hardworking health professionals.
From this, I learnt that:
Leadership is service. It requires patience and tolerance and it is choosing to stand up and do something when you could sit down and do nothing.Tweet
I have had a memorable service year even though the activities were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but I had some highlights, like this and this other time I and my CDS group members sensitised the residents of Akure on the radio and in the market on Lassa fever.
To conclude, I will say that your service year is what you make of it. You can either grumble about how useless and dysfunctional the scheme is or realise that it contributes to your work and life experience and make the most of it. It is up to you.
Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments. I love reading them.