4.5 Years in Aikido Exco: 12 Lessons Learnt

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Back when I was in university, I joined NUS Aikido Club’s exco (executive committee) and stayed in the committee all the way till I graduated. Here are my main takeaways:

1. There is always room for improvement in processes. Be open to change.

In my first year, attendance taking was a very manual process as it was done via pen and paper. By my fourth year, the process became digital, where members will submit a Google form after they attended training. Google form responses would then populate a Google spreadsheet to track everyone’s attendance.

2. Trying out different cell duties helped me understand how the club functioned better.

I joined admin, publicity, and finance cells before being vice president and president. Prior knowledge of multiple cells’ workflows definitely helped when I had to manage the whole club at a higher level.

3. When it comes to trying something new and unfamiliar, the fastest way to pick it up is to get your hands dirty and ask for help or guidance along the way.

Whenever I join a new cell, I would ask exco members who were previously in that cell to clarify certain processes and also ask for advice when I wasn’t sure of completing tasks on my own. For example, when I joined the publicity cell, I didn’t have any prior experience in poster design and social media management. But, I still gave it all a try and would ask my publicity head for help if I was stuck.

4. Every team has its own dynamics.

I’ve been a part of 5 different exco teams. Every team consists of different people and every individual has their strengths and working style. Don’t see person A in a new batch as an “equivalent” of person B in a previous batch, instead welcome every person as a unique individual.

5. Managing one’s internal team can be challenging

as everyone is different and there is no one size fits all approach to leadership. Sometimes, trial and error is required.

6. Dealing with external parties, however, is even trickier.

Clear communication is so important because misunderstandings are messy and can affect the club.

7. Responsibility and being present is really underrated.

When things get done properly and punctually, management becomes so much more of a breeze!

8. Commitment is ultimately a personal choice.

You cannot demand it from someone. That being said, as leaders, if you noticed that some exco members are not as committed to their duties, you should check in with them and encourage them to uphold their responsibilities. Personally, I’ve encountered situations where people had to step down from the exco team because they were unable to meet the minimum expectations of an exco member.

9. If people are not confident in themselves, they will end up over-relying on their leaders.

When I faced this issue as president, I tried to overcome it by empowering my exco members. I gave my cell heads autonomy over their own cell projects and let them manage their own cell members, while I advised where necessary. Besides building confidence, letting people have a sense of ownership over their work can also foster a higher level of involvement in the committee!

10. Constructive feedback is best served timely, and in a warm manner.

If there is feedback to be given, it should be done as soon as it is appropriate. For instance, for major events, after-action review sessions should be held within a week or two post-event, as people may forget what happened soon after. When giving feedback, the focus should be on what happened and not on any individual.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

11. Together > Alone

No one can do it all on their own. Even when I was president, I didn’t know everything about the club operations and had to sometimes tap on my cell heads’ expertise to understand how some things worked. Organising major events is never a one-man show, but the result of an entire team’s planning, preparation, and execution.

12. People come and go.

Treasure the time you have with every single person. Be it training, dinner, or supper, you never know when is the last time you would get to interact with someone 😀

Thank you for reading!