A Diamond in the Rough

Aside

The definition of a leader is “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country,” however there is so much more to it than that. It’s behind the scenes where a real leader shines; all the effort, planning, organization, and sacrifice, that usually goes unnoticed. A real, effective leader does a lot more than just leading, and that is the reason why I chose to interview a great young leader in our community named Aarman Bondar, most people just call him Bondar.

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I first met Bondar in late February of last year, at the beginning of the rugby season, he was volunteering as an assistant coach for both the junior and senior boys. I knew he had graduated a year prior and had played for the rugby team, but other than that nothing. The first practice he ran was the hardest practice I’d had in a long time, and I was kind of like “whoa this guys hardcore,” but I soon realized that he pushed us so hard because he wanted the best for us. Fast forward to the end of the season; a couple months of practice,  a dozen games, 2 tournaments, and a few late nights with the team later and Bondar and I have really got to know each other.

Bondar 1

Bondar was born May 22nd 1996, into a relatively poor Coquitlam family. He grew up in Coquitlam and attended Gleneagle Secondary, where he played five sports all four years of high school including soccer, volleyball, rugby, wrestling, and cross country. He was team MVP all four years in at least one sport and received athlete of the year not once but twice. He was in the COAST program, and loved to get involved in ‘school spirit’ activities such as attending sporting events or fundraisers. He also played drums in the school band.  During high school Bondar volunteered at the Pinetree Community Center, where he worked with children in the outdoors running activities such as hiking or canoeing. In his senior years at Gleneagle, Bondar excelled on the rugby team playing on the local rep team, and eventually team B.C. He now play’s for the UBC rugby 15’s team and more recently the 7’s team. He is currently studying at the Sauder School of Business at UBC, where he is taking a double major in finance and marketing.   This past summer he worked with the Gleneagle rugby team, myself included, running a course which taught us about general fitness and weightlifting.
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On Tuesday at lunch I conducted an interview with Bondar in the library in which I asked him a few questions about himself that would show his leadership in the community. I learned a lot about Bondar from the interview, most of which I wouldn’t have known if hadn’t have chosen him for this project, so I’m glad I did.

When asked what style of coaching he preferred to use and what he did to motivate players he answered…

“At first I coached the way I was coached, which was lots fitness, lot’s of yelling. The real hard approach. Eventually though I realized that even though I was coached like that and it was successful, it wasn’t the best style. I realized that kids react better to things like competitions and fun games and stuff like that. That’s what I tried to do in the summer with the weightlifting. Adding in fun games and competition’s to get the kids to push each other. That carried over to coaching United. A lot of it was based around fun and having fun, but still always working hard and learning the skills. Many kids and young people especially don’t like just being told to do something a certain way like they’re being commanded. They like to be interacted with instead which makes more sense than just being black and white.”

What kind of advice would you give to a young person striving to be a leader or who you think would be a good leader?

“A lot of times when someone tries to be original or different or a leader they get criticized, because they start to stand out and they begin to separate themselves from the norm. Some advice to give to them, because I was in their shoes at one point would be, don’t care about what people say to you or about you. If people make fun of you and stuff like that it doesn’t matter. If you believe in something then do it. For example I was in concert band and people made fun of me for it, but I didn’t care what people thought, I loved it. People spent there summer’s working at McDonald’s or the grocery store making money for themselves. I spent my time with kids in the outdoors doing things that I loved. So just when you find was you really love and what you really want to, do it, and you’ll probably be really good at it. Don’t regard the bad things that other people say about you.  Your biggest critic is yourself, and your the one who pushes yourself to do what you can not other people. Don’t be afraid to set high goals for yourself you know. You have to think of something before you can go out and do it. For example someone had to think of sending a man to the moon otherwise it never would have happened. Don’t follow what other people do, create your own path, create your own vision.”

“What have you done for work in the past and what are your goals for work in the future?”

“I grew up in a very under-privileged family so I started working pretty young. When I was 11 or 12 I started helping at my dad’s shop, building kitchen cabinets, sweeping the floors etc. Just doing whatever I could to help. During high school I worked as a sports referee. I worked at The Bay selling shoes at one point. My dad also opened up a donair shop so I worked with him there part-time. I was also paid as a personal trainer during high school for several sports teams from different schools. Now the work that I do is mostly internships with a couple of firms and my professors downtown.

For the future I want to try to use the options of my double major. The reason I chose finance is that I have some connections in the finance district, so I with a good education I can easily get a job through that. While the other reason why I chose marketing is because I love sports and I could possibly end up travelling around and working with sports teams while I’m young. And then when in my 30’s or 40′, and I want to start a family, I think settling down with a secure job in the finance sector would work best for me.”

As I said before there I learned a lot about Bondar from the interview, and I think it really showed how much of a leader he is to a lot of young people, like myself, in the community. Personally I think that Bondar is an amazing leader both as a sports coach and just as a general role model. There aren’t many people who can do what he does. As a matter of fact it’s quite amazing that he is able to balance all the different aspects of his life; school, work, volunteering, rugby, coaching, and still finding time to come and do an interview for me. He’s definitely a great leader and even more importantly a truly great guy.

Leadership Challenges

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Challenge 1: Tension

How do you deal best with tension in a stressful situation?

When dealing with tension in a stressful situation I try to remove the tension by really talking to others and trying to work things out. However if I can’t defuse the situation on my own, I try to seek the help of others.

Challenge 2: Frustration

What should you do when you find yourself following a leader who is ineffective? How do you continue to add value?

When following an ineffective leader most people seek to replace or “fix” their leader. However there is a better way to deal with an ineffective leader. Starting off by identifying your leader’s strengths, rather than their weaknesses. You also don’t want it to seem like you’re attacking a leader saying that they are unfit for their role, so the best thing to do is slowly over time make suggestions for things they can improve upon. Furthermore if you find yourself following an ineffective leader, you can still add value. You can focus on what you have to do, and doing your job to the best of your ability.

Challenge 3: Multi-hat

List the different “hats” that you are currently required to wear.

Currently I have quite a few hats that I have to wear on a day to day basis. Some of them being, the learner hat, the teammate hat, the housekeeper hat, the son hat, and the role model hat. All of these hats make contributions to me getting by day by day, as well as me developing as a person. Also high-school has brought many more hats for me to wear, which I think is a good thing.

Challenge 4: Ego

Do you tend to focus more energy on production or promotion?

Well in school, honestly, I spend more energy on production than promotion because I’m using my time to get my own work done. I feel that it’s only after I can produce myself, I can then focus on promotion. I think that if you can produce enough, you are also promoting yourself.

Challenge 5: Fulfillment

Compare how you feel when you team succeeds versus when you receive individual recognition. What things are most appealing about the team win?

Don’t get me wrong individual recognition is great, but there’s something about getting that team W that brings a whole different type of fulfillment. The way I see it succeeding with a team is way more appealing. Mostly because you can share that feeling of fulfillment with others. Also succeeding as a team really brings a sense of family and unity.

Challenge 6: Vision

What would you rather do: see your own vision put into action and come to fruition, or help others fulfill theirs?

I would have to say that I would rather see my own vision put into action and come to fruition, as long as my vision is a good one. It’s the feeling of personal fulfillment that makes it more appealing. However I must say that I also really love helping others meet their vision.

Challenge 7: Influence

How do you consistently let the people on your team know that you care about them?

Above all, I think, recognizing my teammates strengths, and commending them for them is the best way to show that I care. Also by offering and asking for help when needed, shows that I am committed and willing help myself and others improve.

Leadership Myth Busting!

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Myth one: The Position Myth 

What has a peer taught you in the past year?

Within the past year, a peer of mine taught me that asking questions, as well as asking for help is a crucial part of the learning process. Before when I was stuck with something I would sit and try to figure it out myself, rather than step up and ask for help to ensure that I get the best understanding.

Myth Two: Destination Myth 

How do you become the person you desire to be?

The way I see it the only way to change yourself for the better is to take action. Start with a change in mind and go out and work on that however you can. A good way to do this is by setting smaller goals with an end goal in mind. What I do is I write my goal down and everything I can do to get myself there, and then I go out and try to achieve all the goals I wrote down.

Myth Three: The Influence Myth

What prompts you to follow someone else?

I look for a few things when assessing a leader, but most of the time I can tell right away that the person may be a good leader. They sort of give off an air of confidence and intelligence. If a person has good vision as well as a drive to back that up I may feel compelled to follow them. However I don’t like to just up and follow someone, it takes time for me to “assess” them as a leader before I will follow them.

Myth Four: The Inexperience Myth 

What makes a leader valuable to a organization/committee?

Above all, I think, a valuable leader needs to be able to manage others. Without a good leader things would get out of hand quite quickly. I think that the best leaders are the ones who can think on their feet. More often than not unexpected problems arise, and I think that it’s the way that a leader deals with them that sets them apart from others.

Myth Five: Freedom Myth 

Do you agree that when you move up in an organization, the weight of your responsibility increases?

Yes, when you move up in an organization it means that your superiors believe that you can handle a greater workload/responsibility. That’s why you get paid more when you get a promotion, because you are doing more work.

Myth Six: The Potential Myth

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” How does that idea relate to allowing a title or position to limit your position?

The quote is basically saying that just because a person has a higher role or title than you they don’t have the right to underestimate you, unless you let them. Just because you aren’t necessarily the top of the food chain doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to have an opinion that actually matters.

Myth Seven: The All-or-Nothing Myth

They reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does that mean that they should just give up leading altogether?

It definitely doesn’t mean that they should should just give up. Just because they may not make it to the top doesn’t mean that they can’t try to get close. They really can’t settle for where they are. Instead they should strive to be the best that they, as an individual, can be no matter where everyone else is at.