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Leading by Serving – SLAM
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Leading by Serving – SLAM

A servant and a leader would normally be considered very different people, but those involved in the SLAM program tell us otherwise. Andrew Ma, one of SLAM's co-organizers said, "If you want to lead, learn to serve first. True leaders always put others' needs before their own."

Servant Leadership

Now in its second year, UST’s Servant Leadership Application Module (SLAM2.0) is a unique leadership program that focuses on the qualities needed for a leader – servanthood, integrity, as well as a global perspective through a variety of interactive activities. For a period of 9 months, the program offers classroom training and experiential learning activities to develop students’ leadership abilities and mentalities.

Kittie Chan (Year 2, BBA IS and Management), Angus Luk (Year 2, BENG CS) and Jeff Pun (Alumnus, ECOF 2010) joined the program last year. They enjoyed the experience very much and decided to stay for a second year and are now serving as Assistant Coaches for SLAM.  "Many people think that being a leader is equivalent to being a boss and others would have to follow.  In fact, leaders need to give.  It is through the act of giving that makes other people truly want to follow," said Kittie.  "We want others to accept our gifts, but it cannot be forced upon others. It's easier if you really put your heart into it, and dictatorship is just not convincing," added Angus.

Students' SLAM Experience

Community service is an important component of the SLAM training, in which students can learn the true meaning of "leading by serving".  The program is merged with "Netbook Inclusion for Children Empowerment" (NICE) led by YMCA Hong Kong, which provides netbooks and networking services to underprivileged children. Abraham Chan (Year 1, BBA), a mentor of SLAM2.0 finds it a truly meaningful cause worth working for. "The program gives us the chance to be in touch with children from poor families with limited means and to develop close relationships with them."As mentors, they not only teach computer skills to the children, but also meet with them regularly, allowing them to learn positive values through different social activities. "We are their role models," said Angus, "little things we do can affect them."

Other than community service, many successful leaders from various big companies were invited to share their insights to the mentors.  Kittie says it’s very beneficial for her, "They shared their perspectives on work and on life and how to communicate with others." Angus remembers meeting Mr. Erwin Huang, Deputy Chairman of TSL Jewellery, and decided to join SLAM.  "[Mr Huang] pointed out that if the people living in poverty are not getting help, then they are very likely to remain in poverty. I’m moved by what he said," Angus recalled. "I really wanted to help."

Using what they’ve learned to communicate with their mentees makes the whole process more valuable. "What we learned from the workshops, we teach to the children," said Kittie, who spent much time and effort in teaching the right values to the children. "The program teaches us the most useful skill sets that will benefit our career and academic development," Jeff added. But it is through interacting with mentees that made him realize true and meaningful relationship requires cultivating.  "Leadership cannot be learned in one or two classes," said Angus. “It needs to be experienced."

True leadership emerges when one is motivated by the desire to serve.  Just as SLAM's motto says – "Want to lead? Learn to serve!"

NICE SLAM won the "HK ICT 2011 Best Digital Inclusion Gold Award" and "HK ICT 2011 Best Digital Inclusion Grand Award"