Written by: Ms. Tuul Tuvshinbayar, Program Manager, EMIRGE Mongolia
Since leading the implementation of Global Communities’ EMIRGE Mongolia program, I have constantly grappled with the following questions: Who can be considered a leader? What effects can leaders have on the local community? How do we identify leaders? How do we build more leaders within cooperatives?
On one hand it seems impossible to create leaders. However, I believe we can help people to acquire certain leadership skills. I believe a leader is a torchbearer who shares and spreads his or her good practices to others, and also supports, influences and encourages them.
Since the start of the program in 2010, we have repeatedly provided trainings and advisory services to cooperative and group members, covering effective self articulation, presentation, identification of problems and solutions, listening to others, team discussion and decision making skills. I can see that our program cooperative and group members have already become leaders in their local communities. Although they do not self-identify as leaders, I have witnessed their growth in leadership abilities during recent site visits.
Many of the program cooperative/group members have developed skills to make good presentations, facilitate discussions, listen to others, share experiences with others, develop themselves, as well as skills to encourage and influence others. Many of the program cooperative members have become mentors, teaching and helping others within the community. They educate others about technology, governance and savings. For example,. Mrs. Uranchimeg B from Burhantin Buteelch Busguichuud cooperative, had struggled with obtaining large orders from buyers. She learned from others how to develop a clear product catalog to share with potential buyers, which the cooperative now distributes.
Even others have noticed the positive change. For example, Ms. Bolormaa, Agriculture Officer within the local Governor’s office has noticed the following: Increased willingness from other businesses to listen to members, better information sharing and distribution, tendency to be proactive; thus underlining the fact that our cooperative members have become leaders in their local communities.
As more leaders emerge it helps the entire local community. Our cooperative members are even carrying over their new skills into governance. Some of our cooperative members have run in local elections this year, including 4 members from cooperatives/groups in Mandal soum, Selenge province, 1 member from Darkha-Uul province and 1 member from Shaamar soum, Selenge province. These cooperative/group members competed in the local election upon the request and encouragement of other fellow cooperative/group members as well as wider community members. Many local businesses and cooperative members have supported them in the elections. They said they will run in the next elections with even more enthusiasm and confidence.
Our cooperative leaders are becoming the face of their local communities, and also initiative takers in their communities. They come up with new ideas and initiatives to develop youth in their communities and improve their knowledge.
I believe few people are born to be leaders but many people can develop into leaders. I believe a person’s leadership skills can be seen from how effective that person utilizes his innate as well as acquired skills in given circumstances. In other words, some people discreetly apply their skills and knowledge only for personal or his/her family benefits and business whereas others share and spread their skills to others. These are the good leaders and identifying, encouraging and showing appreciation to them can help them become even better leaders.
I believe other programs as well as local governments have an important role to play when it comes to showing appreciation, support and encouragement to these good leaders. I think as development programs and projects build more leaders in local communities it will strengthen the basis for sustainable development. I’m proud that our cooperative members are becoming local leaders.
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