After experiencing first hand what it feels like to be a guide, or a guide’s assistant in my case, I have understood the intensity, rigor and spontaneity required of one. Despite the significant amount of effort required for the job, the sense of satisfaction received when one basks in the beams of smiles from the people whom you have guided will more often than not overwhelm all traces of fatigue.
The group that I was tasked to guide had approximately 13 people, if my memory serves me well. Although we travelled as a group, it was evident there existed 2 factions, consisting of 4 friends and a family of 9.
We started our walk by introducing the wells and cemetries of the vicinity, the visitors were engaged and all was well, until it was my turn to introduce the broadwalk. It was a nerve wrecking experience for me, not because I was not used to public speaking, but rather because I was not used to guiding a group of people, who seemed to know Chek Jawa more than I do, around Chek Jawa. The initial stages of my introduction of the broadwalk were staggered, to say the least, but as I got used the presence of the group, my explanations became less incoherent and the group was beginning to exhibit hints of interest. It was stunning the difference confidence can bring to the table, it was akin to the much needed inertia to move a heavy load: it took a lot to get it going, but once it did, it was impossible to stop.
As quoted from myself, the true brilliance of leadership lies not in one’s ability to lead, but rather one’s ability to relate to his subordinates. I cannot stress the importance the above as a leader who cannot connect with his subordinates can only exercise his power of leadership to a miniscule extent. Therefore, I made it a point to engage the younger generation by talking about their topics of interest, which may not necessarily have anything to do with the walk at all. Once you managed to forge ties with your group, leading it becomes an easier task as a whole. The lesson derived from thus is to actively engage your audience, while your primary focus should stay on the guided tour, it is beneficial to engage the group in conversations that is to their interest. In this way, it is likely to strike a temporal sense of camaraderie between the guide and his group, which makes the entire trip that much more enjoyable for not just the group, but for the guide as well.
Efficient leadership must focus of 2 different aspects: people and task. While the task focuses on getting the objective met and the mission accomplished and things of the like; the aspect of people puts welfare as priority and that is also important in leadership. Obviously, if one focuses too much on either, the other aspect would be neglected and it is also technically impossible to achieve both at the same time. Thus, the only reasonable approach would be that of a balance. It is important to remind my group to regularly take rests at shelters and also to rehydrate themselves to prevent premature termination of the walk, which is undesirable to both the guide and the group.
I have learnt much from the guided walk and it has been an eye opener for me and also hopefully for the people whom I guided.