Leadership Stories

Disclaimer: All details included in these leadership stories have been provided by the finalists themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individuals concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.

Al Mountain

2nd Lieutenant Al Mountain’s role is to provide a safe, realistic and fun training environment for my cadets and adults which instils the Army’s Values and Standards, whilst also developing leadership, teamwork and communication skills in young people. He is the company Training officer for A Company (The Royal Welsh) Dyfed & Glamorgan Army Cadet Force (ACF).

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My life experiences have taught me the value of courage in the face of adversity, and that people look for leadership in tough times. I took part on a BSES Expedition to Svalbard, which ended in the tragic death of Horatio Chapple, who was killed by a polar bear. I also responded to a fatal traffic accident in Cardiff, giving aid to a bus of school children and I received a British Humanitarian Citizens award in recognition. The experiences in the ACF, have taught me to give clear direction, and to consider the human and emotional element when leading others.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with A Company?
The main challenges are keeping both the Cadets and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers enthused, motivated and focused on training actives. It is challenging to motivate and enthuse a volunteer workforce, but my commitment to steer, support and mentor my volunteers wins their confidence and respect. The obvious highlights are seeing Adult Volunteers and Cadets enjoy, achieve and gain confidence in areas they could never imagine. They are always thirsty to get grow and to enhance their own abilities, which keeps me motivated. Adult Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the ACF.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
I have learned it is vitally important to listen to what volunteers and Cadets have to say. It’s easy to be over-confident in the direction and leadership. Input and feedback is crucial and very important to ensure your direction of travel is true for developing a successful and effective team.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2017?
I believe the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales is understanding what leadership is about. Leaders think that they know the way to lead, however they fail to listen to others and establish effective communications and goal setting. They should lead by example and always devote selfless commitment to their team.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I admire David Lloyd George who was the only Welsh speaking Prime Minister. I admire him as during his campaign he faced tremendous hardships during the First World War though he motivated the Nation when elected as Prime Minister in 1916.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Inspirational

Ethan Williams (winner)

Mae Ethan Williams yn wirfoddoli mewn llawer o feysydd o fewn Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Fe yw Gadeirydd Fforwm Ieuenctid Rhondda Cynon Taf, ac yn cynrychioli Fforwm Ieuenctid Genedlaethol Yr Urdd ar fyrddau Maes a Chwaraeon a Phanel Cyd-ddyn Yr Urdd. Mae Ethan hefyd yn gwirfoddoli a cynorthwyo wrth drefnu digwyddiadau i godi arian tuag at Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Yr Urdd. Mae hefyd yn hyfforddwr mewn clybiau chwaraeon i bobl ifanc.

Sut y mae eich profiad bywyd wedi eich gwneud yr arweinydd yr ydych heddiw?
Dwi’n falch iawn bod fy rhieni i wedi penderfynu fy nanfon i i Ysgol Gymraeg. O ganlyniad, dwi wedi cael y cyfleoedd gwych gydag Urdd Gobaith Cymru megis hyfforddi chwaraeon, eistedd ar Fforwm Ieuenctid Cenedlaethol a Phanel Cyd-ddyn a bod yn llysgennad i’r Urdd.

Mae gweithio gydag a chynrychioli pobl ifanc yn fy ngwaith fel aelod o “Bwrdd Syr IfanC,” Fforwm Ieuenctid Cenedlaethol Cymru wedi bod yn fraint ac wedi fy ngwneud i yn arweinydd hyderus, cefnogol a chymhellgar sy’n ceisio ysbrydoli eraill, yn y ffordd mae’r iaith Gymraeg wedi fy ysbrydoli I.

Beth fuodd y prif uchafbwyntiau a sialensiau ers i chi ymgymryd â’ch rôl arweinyddiaeth yn Urdd Gobaith Cymru?
Y sialens, ond hefyd yr uchafbwynt fwyaf i fi wrth ymgymryd â’r rôl yma oedd cymryd rhan yng nghyfansoddiad Neges Heddwch ac Ewyllys Da Pobl Ifanc Cymru 2017. Ar ôl ymgymryd mewn ac arwain cyfres o weithdai, trafodaethau a chyfarfodydd gyda phobl ifanc oedd wedi lledaenu ar draws Cymru, ges i’r fraint o gyflwyno’r neges, ar y thema “cydraddoldeb” yn y Senedd I aelodau cynulliad ac ar lwyfan Pafiliwn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd Pen-y-bont a’r Ogwr Taf ac Elai.

Yr uchafbwynt i fi oedd clywed ymatebion i’r neges o blant a phobl ifanc o ardaloedd difreintiedig yng Nghymru, Sarayevo, Yr Almaen a Hwngari a gweld yr effaith y mae’r neges wedi cael arnyn nhw a’u cymunedau.
Dyna pam mae gwirfoddoli gyda’r Urdd mor werthfawr a mor fuddiol. Mae gweld effaith y gwaith ar bobl ifanc yn deimlad anhygoel.

Beth yw’r pethau mwyaf defnyddiol yr ydych wedi dysgu o’r uchafbwyntiau a sialensiau hyn?
Y peth mwyaf defnyddiol yr ydw i wedi dysgu yw; ymdrech ac ymrwymiad yw’r cynhwysion mwyaf pwysig i arweinydd da.

Dwi hefyd wedi sylweddoli bod mwynhad yn hollbwysig arwain yn hytrach na ennill personol.
Beth yw’r her fwyaf a wynebir arweinwyr yng Nghymru yn 2017?
Yr her fwyaf a wynebir gan ein harweinwyr ni yw sicrhau bod gan Gymru yn enwedig Ieuenctid Cymru lais wrth ymdrin â materion gwleidyddol a rhyngwladol, yn enwedig wrth ystyried Brexit. Mae’n arweinwyr ni yn brwydro i sicrhau bod gan Gymru hunaniaeth a bod ein traddodiadau a’n egwyddorion Cymreig yn cael eu cynnal am flynyddoedd i ddod.

Pa arweinwyr eraill yng Nghymru yr ydych yn edmygu a pham?
Mae Elin Jones, llywydd Cynulliad Cymru yn gwneud gwaith gwych i sicrhau bod gan bobl ifanc yng Nghymru lais wrth iddi sefydlu Senedd Ieuenctid i Gymru yn y gobaith y bydd gan bobl ifanc y cyfle i leisio barn ac y bydd gwleidyddion yn gwrando arnyn nhw.

Beth yw un gair sy’n crynhoi arweinyddiaeth i chi?
Rhoi Grym

Ethan Williams is a volunteer, in a variety of roles, with Urdd Gobaith Cymru. He is Chair of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Youth Forum, and represents the Urdd’s National Youth Forum on the Sport and Humanitarian boards of Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Ethan also volunteers and assists in organising events to raise money for the Urdd National Eisteddfod. He is also a coach in after school sport clubs for young people.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Coming from an English speaking family, I am grateful for the decision my parents made to send me to Welsh medium education, without which, I would never have had the opportunities that Urdd Gobaith Cymru has given me. Opportunities such as coaching sport, sitting on the National Youth Forum and Humanitarian boards and being an ambassador for the Urdd.

Working with and representing young people of Wales through my work with ‘Bwrdd Syr IfanC,’ The National Youth Forum of Wales, has been an honour and has made me into the confident, supportive and motivated leader that I believe I am today, looking to empower other members of my team, in the way the Welsh language has empowered me.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Urdd Gobaith Cymru?
The biggest challenge, but at the same time the highlight of my role within Urdd Gobaith Cymru was the role I played in the composition of the Annual Peace and Goodwill Message of Wales. After taking part in and leading many workshops, discussions and meetings I was given the honour of presenting the Message in the National Assembly of Wales and on the Main Stage at the 2017 Urdd National Eisteddfod in Bridgend.
The main highlight for me was seeing the reactions to the message from all four corners of the world. Including from the young people of Wales, Sarajevo, Germany and Hungary, many from deprived backgrounds and seeing the effect that those words had on young people and their communities.
That’s why volunteering with Urdd Gobaith Cymru is so rewarding, seeing the of the work make a difference on young people in Wales and across the World.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
The most helpful thing that I have learnt in this role is that effort and commitment are the most important ingredients to a strong and confident leader.
I have also realised that enjoyment is the key to a successful leader rather than personal reward.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2017?
The biggest problem I think that Wales’ leaders face is to ensure that Wales, especially the young people of Wales are given a voice in dealing with political and international issues, especially surrounding Brexit. Our leaders are fighting to ensure that Wales has its own identity and that our Welsh identity and principals are upheld for years to come.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
I admire the work that Elin Jones, the Assembly’s Presiding Officer is doing to allow the voices of young people to be heard by establishing a youth Parliament for Wales. I hope that this gives young people an opportunity to have their say and be listened to.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?
Empowerment