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Leadership

A mountain for leadership

Maya Brahmam's picture
Hawksbill Mountain. © Maya Brahmam
© Maya Brahmam 

When I was invited to speak at the Real Leaders magazine launch last September, I was asked to share my thoughts on leadership. I wondered what I could say about real leaders that was fresh, inspirational and personal.

I hiked up Hawksbill Mountain in the Blue Ridge the day before the launch so I could clear my head and think about these questions.

The connection I made at the launch was that leadership is like climbing a mountain. You don’t climb alone and must depend on your partner or team to get to the summit. You understand their struggle and they yours. Their success is your success. Leadership is not easy, and the hardest piece of it is compassion. If a member of your team slips and falls on the way, you have to stop, and you may not reach the summit as quickly as you’d like. Compassion builds trust and a strong team.

Manley Hopkinson, the author of Compassionate Leadership, said that leadership is less about telling people what to do and more about forming a relationship with them, so they motivate themselves to do what is required. The heart of the approach is “understanding yourself.” Once you have a true understanding of yourself, you understand others better and can create more effective businesses and relationships.

If I Were 22: Travel And See How People Live

Jim Yong Kim's picture
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 Jim Yong Kim with Father Jack in Peru

Photo: Jim Yong Kim with Father Jack in Peru



When I turned 22, I was struggling a bit. I was just two months into my first year at Harvard Medical School, and I had gone from an undergraduate environment at Brown University where I was an activist with a diverse group of peers to a situation where I was memorizing anatomy out of a textbook each and every night. It seemed a real letdown.

Over the next months and years, I met fellow activists including Paul Farmer, with whom I co-founded Partners In Health, and that opened up new possibilities. A few years later, I entered a PhD program in anthropology. Both connected the lessons from medical school to real passions of mine.

When I was 22, one thing naturally led to another. Even so, I wish I knew then what I understand better now about preparing myself for the future. I have three suggestions that I wish someone had told me when I was younger.