At Teach For All, leadership is at the core of our work. Across the network, our model for exanding educational opportunity is built on the fundamental belief that solving educational inequity requires strong leaders. And around the world, the leaders of our network partners—as well as their participants and alumni—are being noticed. Recently, Teach For Malaysia's CEO Dzameer Dulkifli shared advice from his leadership journey with Malaysian graduate career resource, Graduan. The following is an excerpt:
1. Sense of Possibility is needed to achieve the "impossible."
Teach For Malaysia started out with a lot of naysayers. People often looked at (my co-founder) Keeran and me with faces full of doubt. The Ministry questioned our youth. The private sector questioned the Minisitry's intentions. At times, we questioned ourselves too. Of course, we didn't give up. We kept our focus on what "could be" as opposed to what "was done." We sought out opportunities rather than problems, we sought out people who would believe in us and the mission, but most importantly, we focused on the possibility of it all.
2. Integrity is the hardest value to live up to.
You see, along the way, I've disappointed donors, even Ministry of Education officers. The thing is, that was alright because I had managed their expectations that we were nowhere near our goals. But when a team member brings up an email that I forgot to reply to or a promise that I made over lunch that I could not live up to, that hurts the most as a little bit of trust was lost and integrity is questioned. Trust is the foundation of any strong, high-performing team, be it an NGO or a classroom. The key idea here is to do as you say. Always.
3. Results are a function of high expectations.
Setting big goals pushes a person towards excellence by reinforcing a positive mindset. When she first started teaching, 2013 Fellow Sarah Quek chose to set a crazy goal of giving homework to her class of students who had never submitted their homework before. She made her expectations clear and told them how she would hold extra classes after school to help them. After two months of constant follow-up and holding high expectations, Sarah began to see remarkable improvements in one of her weakest students, CX. CX had never completed her homework before and had barely used more than two pages of her exercise book. After four months of hard work and homework, CX scored a 48% in her monthly exam. This was the highest score she had ever obtained for any subject!