AWiB Leadership: Why? For Self and Service. How? With Kicks and Pushes

Meti Shewaye Yilma

AWiB 2018 President

My experience as an AWiB member was impactful and enjoyable, to say the least. AWiB’s networking platform and programs are helping me advance professionally while round table discussions and new friendships are adding value to my personal growth. I joined AWiB for myself; to widen my network, to access opportunities and to make the best of the programs. I was active and highly involved when I’m around, whereas I could be nowhere to be found when I’m away. I was like a part-time lover. My presence was so noticeable when I’m in the scene to a point few members of AWiB’s Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) approached me to consider board membership.

Since I was already benefiting as a member by taking in a lot, it’d be a great opportunity to pay my dues forward by being part of this nurturing community and serve. So, I said yes. It didn’t take me long to know that AWiB leadership is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

I witnessed previous leaders contributing a lot to the AWiB community, to the movement and to women’s transformation. So I expected I’d give more than I’d receive in AWiB board. In reality, I found out that it’s not just give or take but it’s actually growing. And how is AWiB’s leadership helping me grow as a leader?  By kicking and pushing.

I knew I needed few touches and reminders here and there. But AWiB leadership gives me hard kicks to be more conscious and pushes to surpass my limits.

Kick and Push #1

I joined AWiB’s board in January 2017 and my term for presidency was not until 2019. I was relaxing and smoothing my way up the presidency as I had two years. But 2017’s president elect got a great career opportunity that wouldn’t allow her to give a 100% for AWiB presidency and she declined. So everyone turned their faces to me. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was ready for this immense responsibility and I was scared. But my mentor, Nahu, told me that she believed I was ready. Who am I to doubt myself when others, particularly my mentor, believed in me? She just didn’t believe in me but she and other SLT members doubled their effort to mentor me and got me ready. AWiB’s mentorship is well structured and documented which must be duplicated to other institutions to nurture leaders. So I was a president material by January 2018.

Kick and Push #2

I wanted to get into TV production business since 2005. I even named my dream company “Sirius” after the brightest northern star and had its logo designed by my graphics designer friend. But I was too scared to pursue it then. In 2009, the idea resurfaced, went forward few steps and got a business licence for my nameless company. I dropped the name after I heard of Sirius Radio in the USA. The few names I selected got rejected which gave me an excuse to be frustrated so I dropped the idea once again. Fast forward 2017, I wanted to own my time to give AWiB’s presidency my full attention and energy. I used this opportunity to finally materialize my idea of establishing a production house. With great support of AWiBers and their resourcefulness, I opened my Pan-African Multimedia Production House; QUEENDOM.MEDIA. Its premier show is Let’s Go with Meti, an experiential travel show that envisions creating conscious global citizens by promoting diversity, beauty and heritage.

Kick and Push #3

I can comfortably say I was doing well professionally. People in my sector respect me and value my contribution. Then I joined AWiB. The “star” of my arena that has been told “your work is amazing” was welcomed in AWiB with a look “This is all you got? Really?” I was told what I was doing was just ordinary while I’ve a potential to deliver extraordinary. Sometimes, we might get comfortable with ordinary which might lead us to mediocrity. AWiB leadership showed me I shouldn’t settle for anything less than excellence. Now, every time I produce something or execute some work, I ask myself “Is this all I got? Really?”

Kick and Push #4

I thought I was great in handling confrontation. Through the process of self and peer evaluation that takes place twice a year in AWiB’s board, I realized I wasn’t handling confrontation, rather avoiding it. I’m a toastmaster who’s used to the Kiss-Kick-Kiss (K-K-K) evaluation system where we get evaluations from fellow toastmasters where the areas for improvement are sandwiched between our strong points. As an AWiB leader, I’m the first one to kick myself followed by more kicks from my fellow board members. During the first self and peer evaluation, there was a particular confrontation that made my heart bounce like I was about to be thrown from a cliff. But once we resolved the issue, it gave me such an immense relief that made me ask myself “why didn’t I do it earlier?” I’m not saying it’s easy but my emotional intelligence is getting better as I now face and handle confrontations without wanting to die.

AWiB leadership doesn’t only nurture me using kicks and pushes; I also get kisses and pulls. When I doubt myself and my journey, I get reaffirmation from my AWiB tribe-mates. When I feel down and when I’m not at my best self, my AWiB nucleus family hold me up. And they know I’m here for them too as they are for me. I got close friends at AWiB SLT and I found a go-to-confidants at AWiB board. AWiB is my tribe.

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