The Leadership Face-Off!

Pit against students from other schools, these students went through a mental, emotional and physical test of their leadership mettle

Racing Minds. Rushes of Adrenaline.

It was like being on the set of “Apprentice”, Singapore style. I was in the thick of action at The Leadership Face-Off, a leadership competition organised by Temasek Secondary School, Temasek Junior College and Halogen Foundation Singapore. Teams of four from all schools in Singapore were invited to compete in this challenge, themed “Family First”.

The Leadership Face-Off tested leaders mentally,emotionally and physically. Withina span of three days and two nights, students had to complete four tasks. They were challenged to create a marketing video judged by votes via the National Family Council’s website, budget and raise funds for the President’s Challenge, convince strangers to take pledges revolving around Family, and create an activity to teach about family values and bonding.

It was exciting, gruelling, but terribly fun. The best team with the best ideas and execution would win. Although they entered this competition in groups of four, in two of the tasks, they had to face the challenge, alone. Who and which team would stand out most?

I was on site facilitating the challenges, cheering them on and capturing moments on photos and videos. Along the journey, I met Kelvin Kaung Sett Moe Myint from Bukit Panjang Government High School. Having come from Myanmar in search for better education, he found more than what he bargained for: the privilege of a holistic education which includes leadership development. He shared his experience with me:

Student Kelvin Kaung’s experience

“I have been given leadership opportunities before, but The Leadership Face-Off was an avenue for a fresh kind of leadership learning. I was taken out of my comfort zone at school, and was challenged to lead differently.

Firstly, I learnt what makes leaders. I grew closer to my group mates which included the Student Council President and Vice- President. Previously, they had always led me. However, this round, I had the chance to lead them! Though a seemingly small role and experience, I was honoured and gained confidence through it. I also learnt that my Student Council leaders are ordinary people too; the difference is that they serve the school with greater influence and responsibilities.

“I have been given leadership opportunities before, but The Leadership Face-Off was an avenue for a fresh kind of leadership learning. I was taken out of my comfort zone at school, and was challenged to lead differently.” –Kelvin Kuang, student and TLFO participant

Secondly, I discovered my weaknesses and strengths. I am usually comfortable speaking in front of a group of friends such as making announcements as a Secondary one Class Chairperson. However it is different when I am with strangers. After presenting a marketing strategy to two judges, my facilitator asked if I was stressed and tensed. Without her observation and encouragement, I would not have realised it. To improve I’ve started practicing reading speeches to my stuffed toys at home!

I discovered that approaching strangers one-on-one was not as difficult. For one of the challenges, I had to convince strangers to take a family pledge. It took me awhile to warm up but turns out, I was braver and more vocal than I thought I was. To quote Mark Twain, “Courage is not absence of fear but it is acting in spite of it”.

I had always thought I was a terrible comedian. But through the experience of diffusing stressful situations with my humour, I realised that this is also my strength.

Thirdly, “The Leadership Face-Off” gave me an opportunity to understand and manage different personality types. I encountered people who will simply follow instructions to those who object to everything. There are also those who have good ideas but are too shy to express them. i have learnt to create opportunities for them, and to take varied approaches – strict or soft – depending on what motivates them. rather than forcefully leading, I found out that followers often like a person before they will respect and follow them. Building relationships with those I lead is important to me.

I am proud to say that even though I am only 15, I know I am a leader. I am thankful for the opportunities to lead in The Leadership Face- Off, as a student counsellor and as a leader of my National Cadet Corps (NCC) Freestyle Drill Team. It’s true, you know… we are never too young to lead.”

Article by Adeline Ho

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