Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Leoni Cuelenaere, met with BYLC graduates on June 5, 2018. Ms. Cuelenaere’s time as the Ambassador in Bangladesh, starting in 2015, has contributed to building an excellent relationship between the Netherlands and Bangladesh. Before Bangladesh, Leoni Cuelenaere served as the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Yemen, and Rwanda.
During her visit to BYLC, she met with graduates from the recent BBLT program to talk about opportunities and challenges young people face in the countries. Recalling her experiences in Bangladesh, she stated with hope that so much is possible in Bangladesh as its greatest strengths are young people and their energy.
Leoni Cuelenaere also shared a few leadership lessons with the participants from her own decades long public service career.
You are part of a team: Ms. Cuelenaere said to the graduates that always remember, you are not just a boss. You are part of a team. When your team does well, it’s the team’s success. When it doesn’t, take the responsibility for the failure. But, the important part of your job is to work with identify and develop your team member’s strengths.
Listen to others: When you are working and hold a position of power of some sorts, people may not always say it when they disagree with you. It is your responsibility to find ways to listen to what your team members are really thinking. Therefore, you must create a work culture of truly listening to your colleagues.
Learn to take criticism: One of the most important lessons you must learn is to listen to criticism. Allow your team members to criticize you. When you are criticized, go back to yourself and reflect what may have gone wrong. If you are wrong, learn to say sorry. There is no harm in saying sorry.
Ms. Cuelenaere has been an avid supporter of BYLC’s work. She was also excited to learn about the student’s Leadership in Actions projects and how the participants would continue to contribute to their societies while achieving their personal goals.