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For Tatum Wilson, leadership is not a solo sport. He credits other leaders with playing an important role in supporting his efforts. “I’m a big fan of having mentors and being able to rely on them,” he says.
He grew up watching his father coach hockey, motivating and inspiring young players with a range of abilities. “He got the best out of people,” says Wilson. “He showed me that regardless of your skills, everyone has a contribution. Everyone has value on the team.”
When working for the experiential youth education program, Canada World Youth, Wilson was selected to lead 18 young people (nine Canadian and nine African) in volunteer efforts both in Guelph, Ontario and in Tanzania. Having never traveled in a developing country and with no knowledge of the language and culture, he reached out to others for advice and inspiration. “The expectations on my leadership were really high,” he explains.
Wilson recalls two youth participants in the program, one from Tanzania, one from Kenya, whom he placed at an HIV/AIDS organization on their volunteer tour in Guelph. They were apprehensive.
“We’re not comfortable,” they told Wilson. “This is a big problem at home.”
With Wilson’s support and encouragement the two stuck with it, ultimately choosing to work in the field when they returned home. Since then they have gone on to develop their own HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Tanzania.
“They stepped out of their comfort zones,” says Wilson.
Taking risks is a large part of what he considers at the core of strong leadership. While Wilson acknowledges that self-doubt has at times been an obstacle, he has never been afraid to ask others for help.
“Capitalize on the leaders you have around you,” he says. “Take inspiration and direct advice from them.”
Tatum Wilson is one of 28 inaugural DiverseCity Fellows, working across sectors and cultures to develop city-building initiatives.