Reflections: Presidential Leadership Scholars Program – 1

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08:  Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George W. Bush talk about their hopes for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC.With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.'  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Written by Rachael Watson

Having completed the first session of the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program, I’ve been asked numerous times, “How was it?” “Did you learn anything interesting?” “Did you meet any presidents?”

It was phenomenal!
I learned a ton!
I did not meet any presidents… yet.


It is scientifically proven that adult learners are more successful when they put pen to paper – actually take notes the old fashion way (which I do), and also reflect – journal about the material being studied. In an effort to maximize the PLS experience and answer questions at the same time, I thought I’d share some reflections from my notes which apply to my work in Zambia and anyone’s work in general.

Excerpts From My Session One Notes… 

1-FullSizeRender-1024x534~George Washington – not perfect, lots of failures, not considered a great intellect… succeeded based on integrity and vision, personal sacrifice and thoughtful intent in setting precedence with the choices he made… 
Reflection: Being a trusted leader is about having the demonstrated character to back up charisma. Would I want to follow me into Zambia?
 ~Strategic Focus – Knowing what you don’t want is as important as knowing what you do want.
Reflection: There are so many people in Zambia who need some form of assistance, but our focus is the 100,000 starving kids, the farmers we source from, the factory workers we employ, the moms who receive education, and the community workers who are trained. It may seem like a lot, but it’s actually quite doable because of the inter-connectedness. 
~Maximize Strengths -Beyond knowing what they are and developing them, you must know the playing field on which you can best leverage them. A strength applied in the wrong setting can actually become a weakness… defeats the purpose.
Reflection: The strength of the model for locally producing RUTF is perfectly suited to Zambia. Although the need is great and there are challenges, it is a country with everything necessary for a true success story! 
1-IMG_1489-300x225~Temperament and a good sense of humor are more important than genius-level intelligence. Succeed by surrounding yourself with the experts to compliment your knowledge and skills…
Reflection: I think I have a good sense of humor… who judges that?
We definitely have a brilliant team, for which I am immensely grateful!



I have an impressive peer learning group who are all experts in their respective fields, from medicine to PR to military to finance. I couldn’t be more excited to have this unique opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and put it all to use to advance the work in Zambia and be a better leader for our amazing ECF team.

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