When, why, and how does one decide to be a community leader? How does one person accept the challenge of serving the people and the community knowing that it will not be an easy task? For me, it is when you decide to take a more active role to use not only your influence but your knowledge and expertise to help improve the lives of your fellow citizens.

I would like to use the story of Halilah Nakumai of Papua New Guinea as an inspiration on my sharing with all of you today on developing the global mindset of a community leader. This young girl from the small coastal village of Dandan 6 kilometres away from the nearest road. This distance poses difficulties for families to market their produce such as cocoa, fish, and vanilla making it difficult for them to support their children’s education.

Driven by her parent’s strong resolve to provide Halilah the opportunity to study, she set off to Papua New Guinea University of Natural Resources and took up a four-year bachelor’s degree course on Sustainable Tropical Agriculture. After her completion of the said degree, she established a rural business group bringing together the three local communities Sir, Sikan and Dandan villages. She was able to seek the support of the the European Union-funded and FAO-implemented Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade and in Papua New Guinea (EU-STREIT PNG) programme to streamline and upgrade the agrifood production of the said communities. Through the said programme, the SISIDAN cooperative provided the training and vital farming inputs to the villagers and facilitated farmers’ access to banking facilities.

Halilah’s leadership is not one that may be regarded as “all good.” Along the way, she also experienced discrimination from the villagers because she was a woman. Halilah says leadership “is truly not the simplest thing” and involves sacrifices. “It means you must learn to be patient enough, to humble yourself, to always put yourself last” and avoid being aggressive and conceited. Above all, she urges, learn to be positive in all you do and never give up.” Halilah is not just a community leader but she exemplifies how to be a global leader in your own context and community.

More than curiosity, leaders must also have a “growth” mindset.

Leaders must be undaunted by challenges and instead be propelled to turn these into opportunities. They must always seek to learn it all and always be curious to innovate and develop new skills. They must be adaptive to the ongoing fourth industrial revolution that necessitates leaders to work in an agile manner, become not only digitally literate but be digital experts and plan accordingly using data analytics and global trends.

A global community leader must also possess is the ability to foster team connectivity and integrate across boundaries. Global leaders should focus on the success of the team and must possess the so-called “we” mentality. “Leaders need to be bridge-builders and lead beyond their own functions, units and borders.” (weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/leadership-mindset-fourth-industrial-revolution-skills) They must develop pragmatic flexibility to adapt to other cultures as well as to expand their own cultural values as well.

Resilience is already a pre-requisite characteristic of a leader. A leader must not only have the tenacity to rise above challenges that are existing but rather be able to “function very effectively in highly unclear situations and do not become paralysed.” Leaders must also have perceptive responsiveness and be able to act based on both intuition and fact. “They anticipate the changing needs of customers and other key stakeholders. They’re attuned to the differences between people, and value those differences rather than trying to impose a ‘one size fits all’ approach.” “Leaders who possess a global mindset are able to view situations from a variety of perspectives, develop trusting relationships with individuals from different contexts, and identify promising routes to successful collaboration”. –

Lastly, to be a global leader is to be a global citizen first. The concept of global citizenship signifies a “common investment in the shared fate of humanity.” Global leaders are those who make decisions and value that the prosperity of one individual or a community depends on the prosperity of other individuals and other communities. Global leadership that starts with global citizenship is the investment in the shared fate of humanity.