by Eddie Aung
I have been in HarlemLive for nearly two years. But before this summer, I had no idea what the real responsibility meant. Being a group leader can be the hardest job on earth; especially when the success of your whole group depends on your performance. Let me give you a little a short tour of a group leader’s one day life in HarlemLive. Yeah…… It’s just a short tour….
I bet that everyone has thought of what they are doing or where they are going to. Well, that is one of the daily jobs of mine and I want to say that it also should be one of the practices that a group leader should possess. A group leader should most of the time be thinking about something that pertains to the success of his group.
Ideas are not hard to come up with, the hard part is to turn those ideas into stories and ask your group to actually go out and make those ideas come true. The whole group will have a meeting and everyone will be throwing ideas at each other and it will seem like the meeting was a success. Everyone including the leader learned something new after the meeting and believe that the group members will try hard to turn the ideas into actual stories. Well, you see…., only fairy tales end with a happy ending.
Most of the problems start from the fact that not all of the people are motivated. So even an experienced group leader “MUST” have Plan B because there is a possibility that something might go wrong such as one of the group members not making an important phone call, missing a scheduled story, or just sitting on a chair and staring at a computer screen Instant Messaging their friends.
My strategy to overcome those difficulties is to actually do some of the scheduling on my own and be ready with a story on days when there are no stories. I always keep track of what my group members are doing. Stories are important in an organization such as HarlemLive, but not all the members in my groups are writers or reporters. What I do is keep them busy with the work they are interested in. If someone likes to edit video. If someone likes mopping, well, that’s what they will to do.
Since there are a lot of things going on and there are not enough people to cover all the necessities, I have to assign each person to take care of two different types of jobs such as a writer might take a journalism class or photography workshops. This put a certain amount of pressure on some group members especially when they are new. About 90% of the staff in HarlemLive for this year’s Summer Program are new. There is the trouble there. Some people think that taking care of two things is hard and some think that having two stories on one day is a lot. Well, what can you say? You are the group leader; you have to listen to your group because those are the people that make you the group leader.
There are times when I feel like a lot of the things that I planned are not going as well as they should be. Managing a group is like a rubber band. If you pull it too hard, it will snap. If you don’t pull hard enough, you will it will not stretch as far as you would like it. You really have to understand people. A good group is the group where all the team members work together and know what they are doing. This will not guarantee that the group will have the most rewards because any group can reach its goals just by depending on a couple of good and hardworking people in the group.
That is not what I expect from my group. So I try to teach my group to work together. And trust me, that is really hard because you are trying to combine a bunch of minds asking them to reach a certain destination. Everyone wants to choose his own path.
Most of my hardest moments as being a leader is when my group members do not do things right. It is hard to keep track of what everybody is doing every time. When I don’t know what someone is doing, it is hard for me to plan ahead. Trying to find out what is going on in the group and planning ahead is really challenging for me, especially when things do go as I had expected. Finding right people for the right work is a hard thing for me. However, I’m happy with my position because you have a chance to learn and interact with people. They report to you what is happening and they share their ideas with you which I believe is a great thing. Even though sometimes I feel like there is a big rock on my shoulder, that feeling disappears when I see my group members working.