Photo above: Caroline (brown blouse, white trousers) together with her friends.
Name: Caroline Regina Parameswaran
Course/University: BSc (Hons) Psychology, Sunway University
Experience: Chairperson of Hospital Bahagia trip
To me, university is all about new experiences instead of just academics. Hence, I joined various clubs such as dance, volunteering, counselling and psychology to get as much ‘out-of-classroom’ experiences as possible.
The dance club was enjoyable and it brought out a new side of me. The volunteering club enabled me to give back to the community. The counselling club taught me how to encourage, empathise and empower others. However, it was my time spent with the psychology club where I learnt most of my leadership lessons.
As vice president of the Sunway Psychology Club, one of the activities that I organised was a study tour to Hospital Bahagia, Ulu Kinta, Perak for the final year psychology students. I learnt some valuable lessons that I believe all leaders should embrace – paying close attention to details, acknowledging mistakes may happen and recognising the importance of a good support system.
1. See to the nitty gritty
As the trip to Hospital Bahagia was an annual event, I figured that I would be provided with all the necessary details. Sure enough, after the initial negotiation, I was given the schedule and the do’s and don’ts for the duration of the trip.
However, what was missing were the names of the people who would be in charge of the tour. I thought that the person in charge of the briefing would conduct the tour as well.
However, this was not the case and she left immediately after the briefing to fulfil her hospital duties while we were left wondering who was going to oversee the tour.
A few phone calls later, we were back on track and the show went on, only to hit another snag. Apparently, Hospital Bahagia is so huge that we needed transport to cover the grounds.
As I had not clarified this earlier, the bus driver had left the premises. This slightly delayed our tour as we waited for the bus’ return. The takeaway lesson? As leaders, we ought to be in the know of every tiny little detail. Do not assume that everything will be arranged accordingly.
2. Accept mistakes, but do not dwell on it
The initial hiccups upset me somewhat and I was hard on myself for not considering those details prior to the trip. I was unable to fully enjoy the trip as I kept berating myself for the delays and inconveniences. However, my classmates assured me that I had handled it well.
The takeaway is that mistakes are commonplace but as leaders, it is good practice to own up to them and address them speedily. It is also important that we take it as a learning experience instead of dwelling on it. After all, to err is human, to forgive, divine.
And I believe that as leaders, we are sometimes too hard on ourselves. We should learn to rebound from the mistakes we make, be more forgiving to ourselves and come back stronger and wiser than before.
3. Strong support system
Ultimately, I attribute the success of the trip to the support of my close friends. When I was getting frustrated at the slow pace of the planning process and worrying about managing my assignments at the same time, they were the ones who helped me keep things in perspective.
When I was upset about the hiccups during the trip, they helped me see that sometimes mistakes are inevitable but that does not reflect badly on my leadership skills. The takeaway lesson is that as leaders, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. However, having the right support from friends and team members will help keep us grounded and on track.
Leadership is definitely not an easy task. However, it is a great learning curve and the fruits of your labour is indeed rewarding.
Therefore, to all you aspiring leaders out there, I hope you take into consideration the lessons learnt above and I wish you all the best in your own leadership journeys.