Strong leaders and leadership are the cornerstone of success. Great leaders set the direction, build an innovative and inspiring vision, align others with that vision, and mobilize their team to make impact. They have the ability to change the world.
The American Society on Aging (ASA) recently held their annual Aging in America Conference in Washington D.C. There were over 3,000 attendees from across the country learning about how to better serve and promote quality of life for older adults. As the field of aging transforms, ASA has a particular focus on cultivating a new generation of leaders. The ASA Leadership Institute is a five-day experience that offers individuals the opportunity to grow through a series of self-assessments, peer-to-peer networking, facilitated conversations with highly recognized leaders in aging, and online learning. Graduates leave with not only a better understanding of the qualities of a good leader, but also a better understanding of themselves.
The Leadership Institute gave me a great opportunity to improve my skills and reflect on what type of leader I am and what type of leader I want to be. I have an increased self-awareness of my style, how it clashes with others’ styles, and how to match my style to the needs of others. In addition, the Leadership Institute focused on understanding and embracing cultural differences in a way that respects aging. Participants are given a “VIP” experience of the conference, by being able to attend additional workshops not offered to regular conference attendees. For example, the Diversity Summit: Inequality Matters, brought together respected leaders in aging and diversity to discuss the implications of inequality and how it affects the older adults of this country. They focused the panel discussion in four domains: 1) socioeconomic inequality, 2) health inequality, 3) political inequality, and 4) sociocultural inequality.
The experience was not only inspiring and motivating; it was validating. It validated our mission and the direction in which NAPCA is headed, as we look to serving our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older adults. Promoting cultural awareness and person-centered approaches, through targeted technical assistance to the aging network, will improve the dignity, well-being and quality of life for AAPI older adults and future generations to come.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.