Who would have thought that an ordinary high school student would create such a big difference on a global level. It was not until we heard the story of Malala Yousafzai, we thought that the most important task for a 16 year old girl if to complete her studies. She, at 16, spoke at the United Nations about the 61 million girls around the world who don’t have access to education. At 17 she had a Nobel Prize to her name and her journey was as astonishing as she is.
It’s hard to comprehend that a 18 year old girl is capable of giving us leadership goals. She not only has brought the issue of girl education to the notice of International audience, she has motivated many leaders to take actions for the cause too. Her documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’ is so inspiring that it will give you enough motivation for one life time. Here’s how she leaded the world to a better tomorrow.
She took a stand for herself and her beliefs
Being born and brought up in Pakistan Swat Valley, she faced many struggles in completing her school. Taliban kept bombing schools and spread a clear message to all that education won’t be imparted. Malala however, continued her schooling even after facing many obstacles. She voiced her journey of hardships on BBC Urdu blog which went viral in no time.
Not just writing, she took to radio and TV to speak about the importance of education. She didn’t even hide her identity and tried to reach as many people as she can. With her country still under Talibani control, it was a matter of tremendous courage to speak about something which was being forced on them. She was even shot in the head for going to school
For any leader, she laid out the best example. She lived what she wanted to teach and it had an enormous affect on those who listened to her. For a leader who wants to influence people by advocating his point of views, it is natural to face resistance. But when they lead by example they inspire people to see a new potential within themselves. Standing up publicly for what she believed is a quality which every leader should have.
Be Unapologetically Yourself
After watching many of Malala’s interviews, we have concluded that she is her real self wherever she is. It doesn’t matter if she sits in front of the President of the United States or the Queen Elizabeth. She makes her story relatable to all by revealing her real life fears, her obsessions, her favorites and many more such personal details. She doesn’t hesitate to be herself just in order to come out influential. Her authenticity is her biggest strength and it should be every leader’s priority to be authentic.
It’s natural for leaders to want to impress others. But in their attempt to be the most inspiration person, they forget that manufactured personas are not impressive at all. A person needs to be liked as a package. It includes his sense of humor, his wisdom and even his fears and vulnerabilities.
Be an Adept Listener
Malala is a very patient listener. She never assumes that she knows the story of all the girls around the world. She asks them simple questions to get to know the things they are seeking in life. She listens to their views on education and their needs to learn academics or any other vocational training. Then only she uses her power to bring the change in action.
The people who feel that they have lost their voices, reach out to Malala and she makes sure that she amplify’s their voices with the powerful infrastructure she has. She uses her Fund’s blog, her high end international connections to make sure that education reaches to all from all communities.
This quality of being an adept listener makes a leader an inspiration in the truest sense. For an employer, it’s a must to know how his employees feel, a teacher should know what view points her students have. Leaders from all walks of life need to know that listening is the key to knowing more and more about the ones you wish to lead.
It’s Your Story
Malala recalls that she used her personal life to be a story for all to listen. She used to practice her speeches in a bathroom and her life, her struggles, her aspirations went on to become the most effective speech she ever gave. She knew that her story was something everyone needed to know and hence she named her book, “I am Malala”.
She keeps telling her stories just because she knows that the stories will have a moving impact on her listeners. The impact would lead them to make a change and that is the result she desires. She knows the cause and the change she desires to bring in the world is far bigger than her. but she approaches it through her stories.
For a leader, it’s of utmost importance that he shares his aspirations in the form of stories. Those relatable life incidences will enhance the impact he has. A leader needs to learn to be a storyteller for leading and motivating people for life.
Malala has set such a brilliant example of how one can rise above the gravest situations of life. Her life is an inspiration in itself and she is just 19 years old.