INTERVIEW: “Avoid Mistakes to be a Better Person”- Young Leader

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As we journey through life, our actions and misactions lead us to mistakes. Some are inevitable while others are avoidable due to the surplus information and knowledge we have access to. To be a better a person, try to avoid mistakes, Salmah Abdulrahman says. In her words, “there is no room to accommodate a lot of mistakes”.

Salmah is the Executive Director at Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa Network (MACAA). She is also an SDGs advocate and takes special interest in governance and developmental issues.

Salmah Abdulrahman

In this interview, Salmah Abdulrahman (SA) shares with Women Life Magazine (WLM) her views about leadership and opinion about an ideal nation.

WLM- On a light mode now… Do you sometimes give this “feminist” and bossy attitude when engaging with male colleagues?

SA- I don’t think I give bossy or feminist attitude when working with male colleagues. Although, it naturally comes to me when I am responsible for people and we have to work together. When I am kind of like the lead or I am the managing person for that team, I tend to request more from them. I am very result oriented. I talk to people in a way that I want result. Sometimes I get few comments that I am bossy and all of that.

Again, I think it is because of the way I grew up. In my family, most of us are girls and I am the elderly one. Most times, I have to be responsible for things. So I think that is why I kind of have that attitude. I am not really the kind of person who waits for people to do things for me so that is where probably the comments of feminism might come in.

I feel responsible for things. I like it when people can look up to me and ask for permission to do things and we have to work together. Most important thing is as long we have to get things done, I think I am fine with the bossy attitude. So I don’t necessarily give it, I think it just comes.

WLM- What do you think makes a good leader one?

SA- A leader is one who is able to be foresighted, carry people along and not necessarily have to engage them one by one. He has followers who are inspired by what he does. The level of transparency and trust between leaders and followers should be so eminent that he (the leader) necessarily do not have to be always accountable to them because the followers can see it.

To be a good leader apart from being able to inspire people, you have to be able to let the people believe in you. It doesn’t matter how much you can talk. It is like a spirit. When they feel it in you, they would be able to believe in you and trust you.

WLM- How would you describe an ideal nation?

SA- My believe of an ideal nation is one where people have access to the little things that make our lives sustainable and a better one. It is not necessarily that everyone in the nation is wealthy but at least inequality is reduced and we do not have a wide gap between those in the lower level and those in the higher level.

I believe people should have access to resources that can make the state of our living much better. It would be a country where we have leaders. Leaders who are altruistic and selfless about their people.

WLM- Has your gender in any way influenced your leadership? Both challenges and benefits…

SA- Yeah in some way… Being a female until now has not been a challenge for me probably because I have not been in that position where my gender would be a challenge to how much I should lead or I can lead. But these challenges are definitely going to come although I have not faced any.

I believe where I am now was also not just because a certain people thought that because I am female, I should be given this position. I believe it was through my will and people saw it and decided to make me responsible for things.

I have not faced or felt any challenges or benefits based on my gender in leadership for me. Maybe in some other ways. I know there are circumstances that led me here but I never thought it was because I was female. I know gender challenges would still come my way and one way or the other, I would be able to go through them.

WLM- As a leader, what are your biggest distractions, how do you avoid them and stay focus?

SA- My biggest distraction is having to stay focused on a particular thing because I have interest in a lot of things so I get distracted. While trying to accomplish one thing, I would have to do another thing.

Lately, I decided to separate them and focus on what is more important and on what I need now and give myself time to do other things on a later time. I decided to prioritise my work and not put pressure on myself although I still put pressure on myself. I believe that no matter what it is, when I have to accomplish something, I need to do it. I make use of my time. I set deadlines for myself. That is what helps me.

I still have problem with procastination because I have a lot on my to-do list. I try to do a lot of things by breaking it down, prioritize what is more important to other things and leave them for later times.

So my biggest distraction is just my work. Everything I do is my distraction because I have a lot of things that I would like to do and I think they are still too much but I am still finding ways of trying to break it down.

Respect your little achievement and be proud of the little steps you take.

WLM- What advice can you give to someone who wants to be a better person?

SA- For anyone trying to be a better person whether personally or at work or on a skill, it is about recognising what you did few hours or days before and realising okay you need to do better. Everyday I tell myself “I
need to do better than yesterday”. If I am at work and I need to do something, I should be able to do it better than I did before.

You have to realise what you really want so that you would be able to filter a lot of distractions. You need to avoid distractions so that you can stay focused. A lot of distractions and unnecessary things that are frivolent to your achievement and success would cause detort from how far you have gone. There are points where you feel you have done enough and looking back, you feel like you were able to do better than you did last week.

You also have to respect your little achievement and be proud of the little steps that you have taken. You have to be happy that you have made those steps.

Everyone needs to find their purpose and then work towards it. When you have a lot of things to do, you get distracted. So you need to filter and be able to know the things that are important and the things that should be left aside.

Try not to make a lot of mistakes because this time that we are in, there is no room to accommodate a lot of mistakes. Try and make sure that you minimize the kind of mistakes you make. Also, learn a lot from people. Everyday, I challenge myself to learn something new. I play different games and talk to different people. You need to be able to learn daily.

There are a lot of information in this age, so you need to be able to choose which is important for you and learn from it consistently. Consistent learning is very important.

You can reach Salma on Twitter- @_SalmahIssa

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