A while back, we attended the Global Leadership Summit held in South Chennai, and while we enjoyed the two days of learning and networking, much of the content got me thinking beyond.
I thought about the many leaders I have had during school, college, at various churches, and work places. Like everyone else, I have had my fair share of bad to horrid leaders, and some in-between, but it wasn’t hard at all for me to point out the best leader I have had so far.
So I write this piece to honour the best leader I have known, because I believe that in recognising and honouring good leaders, we build more good leaders, and bad ones can learn and grow. If someone reading this would like to honour a good leader in a similar way, please feel free to do so in sincerity, and in so doing, perhaps we will create a global chain of honour that acknowledges, appreciates, encourages, and builds good leadership at all levels and in every sphere of life.
I choose to honour Kami Kindle as the best leader I have had. 🙂
I first met Kami at a strategic planning meeting among those working with children and youth in India. She sat beside me, and we quickly became acquainted. It so happened that I was looking for a change of location at the time, and the organisation Kami works with (OneHope) was looking for someone with my capabilities. So before I knew it, I was being interviewed, and I still remember one significant question I was asked: “What kind of a relationship would you like to have with your leader?” I didn’t have to think hard to respond, because my leader at the time was my good friend, so I simply said, “I’d like my leader to be my friend”, and that was it. Little did I know then that Kami herself was soon to become my boss – and good friend as well.
Kami and I worked together for close to 4 years. We had some fun adventures travelling together in India, sharing each other’s cultures, attending her wedding way out in North Dakota, and of course, EATING!
Gastronomic adventure was our top priority, next to getting work done. 😀 She introduced me to Easter Peeps, 7-Eleven Slushies, Vietnamese tripe soup, and horse riding. I introduced her to custard apples, Hajmola (don’t ask why, it was the worst thing I have done to her!!!), Tiger Balm, eating off a banana leaf, and traditional Indian salwars.
Oh, did I say we WORKED together too? 😀 See, that was part of what made Kami such a great leader – she was so fun and adventurous, work was a breeze! Kami was, and still is, all about getting the job done, but she never passed up an opportunity that was fun.
There are many other things I appreciate and admire in Kami, though not all may be possible to share in this post. Kami has always been humble, down to earth, with no airs about herself. She never boasts in her accomplishments, title or position. She carries herself with dignity and commands respect rather than demands it. She is confident, articulate, graceful, and compassionate. She is wise, knows when to speak and when to remain silent. She is a good listener, and is not quick to judge another. She adjusts to different people, cultures, and situations without complaint. She respects and honours everyone, however big or small. She is gentle even in her anger, always has a kind word, and knows how to handle conflict with grace. She says what she means and means what she says. In short, she is simply great! 🙂
And yes, she was and still is a great friend. Instead of our friendship getting in the way and having an adverse affect our working relationship, it, in fact, made us a much better team because we had built up trust and understanding, and we actually cared about one another.
When I went through a bad phase soon after I took up my new job, Kami was the first one I shared my heart with and who listened, and understood. When my Dad passed away, she got together a few friends to honour my Dad in a very meaningful way. When I was preparing for my wedding, she took me shopping for my wedding dress, shoes, and accessories. In fact, she even gave me some of her own wedding accessories, and I wore them. 🙂 Coincidentally, I even got married exactly a year and a day after her wedding.
I could go on and on, but the one thing that stands out to me in how Kami led – if it isn’t already obvious – was that she was a FRIEND, and a very good one. We don’t work together anymore, we live continents apart, and we communicate once in a purple moon, but our friendship remains.
Leaders, if you’re reading this, the one thing I hope you take away is this:
Be friends with the people you lead. Know them, care for them, have fun together, eat together, learn to work and play together. You may have hundreds of colleagues in your lifetime, but the ones who matter in the end will be the ones who were your friends!
And Kami, I wish a world of good for you. You deserve it, and more! 🙂