Marleny Sepúlveda González
During my life I have seen “leaders” come and go, some by the ballot box, others by the weapons of thousands of paramilitaries, FARC or E.L.N. Three insurgencies battling for dominance in Colombia.
Another self-proclaimed leader was Pablo Escobar, killed some years ago, who before his death invested in the infrastructure of his hometown Medellín. Can a leader be one who leads by fear or intimidation? never, in these types of cases, because their appetites are without check.
The patrón is a leader. He leads his hired/hands, campesinos. Hired men without protection of labor laws. If they are out of sync with the work or moral standards of the patrón, they will be ordered to leave. The patrón who has many daughters is obligated to guard against all predators. I am very familiar with a patrón who shows all his leadership skills that are needed to make his farm flourish. The patrón’s leadership is garnered by his constant work in the fields with his hirees. However, on Saturday night, the patrón, probably with some swagger and huge dose of machismo, sees some of his employees at the small cantina in town. But even there the pecking order is established by the beautiful leatherwork that sheaths his machete, he is still the patrón and respected and feared.
I have had very few opportunities to write something personal about my life, mostly in English. I did, however, experience the sweet taste of being special when I skipped a grade in elementary school. I felt good being publicly recognized. (I have 8 brothers and 4 sisters). But none of those accolades had anything to do with leadership.
By the time I was 20, I was still living in Colombia studying accounting, economics, and other courses related to business. Concurrently, I created a small business selling colognes, cosmetics, and ladies’ stockings being sold from my home. No leadership here either, right? Some years later, I started learning English and when good enough, I was offered the opportunity to teach it in a private English Institute. A decade later, I decided to travel to North America. Within months landed a job at “Sodexo” as a cashier at Binghamton University. I got my first modest experience in leadership when the three other cashiers asked if I would oversee and coordinate their contracted time for lunch and bathroom breaks. But immediately, I realized that any form of leadership is accompanied by various demons, the most common being the fear of doing something new that can be potentially counterproductive. Ultimately, the leader must hope the stars are rightly aligned. A well examined mistake, I am convinced will one day lead to a better decision.