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  • Writer's pictureAICREATIVV

Becoming a Leader from Scratch

Amal recounts her experiences in taking on a leadership role with no leadership experience.

AICREATIVV blogs about Amal Osmera's experience becoming a team leader for the first time.

In May of 2023, AICREATIVV‘s Creative Director, Amal Osmera, took on a role she was not prepared for.

In an informal discussion with people who eventually became part of the working committee for the third rendition of the National Theatre Festival Brunei (NTFB), Amal received news she did not expect: she was to lead NTFB’s Design and Marketing team. Feeling under-prepared and underqualified, Amal rebutted and refused, but there was a reason she was chosen: amongst a team of 30 individuals, Amal was the most qualified person for the role. Naturally, the responsibility came with a side of anxiety, and Amal was struggling to savour the main course.

At the end of August, NTFB 2023 was a resounding success. A vibrant visual brand was developed by the Design team, and tons of promotional content was produced and distributed, including TV appearances, radio ads, posters, TikTok videos, and Instagram posts. The extensive marketing strategy brought hundreds of theatre-curious and theatre-enthusiasts to the Jerudong International School (JIS) Arts Centre, celebrating Brunei’s growing and flourishing theatre industry. And all this spearheaded by our Creative Director. So how did Amal go from lacking experience to leading a full team?

Getting into the Leadership Mindset

No one ever really teaches you to become a leader. Often, certain personality traits or life experiences shape you into either a leader or a follower, and people naturally gravitate towards one or the other. Amal fell in the latter, and was not eager to change gears anytime soon. From simply observing the people around her, though, she could see that being a team leader can be stressful and complicated. However, in this instance where she had no other choice, she understood that learning from observation could only take her so far; the only way she could truly learn what it takes to become a leader was by taking on the role herself.

The shift in mindset from being a ‘doer’ to a ‘leader’ took Amal weeks. Apart from learning the responsibilities of a leader from scratch, she also had to get used to delegating tasks to her teammates to make NTFB a successful event. The learning curve was steep and scary, and she was unsure if she could make the jump.

“Asking people to do things was something that I was not used to, because the idea of asking people to do stuff when I know I can do it was really weird. It feels like bossing people around.”

Amal Osmera of AICREATIVV as the Design and Marketing Team Leader for NTFB 2023
Amal Osmera hard at work at NTFB 2023

With prior experience in graphic design, Amal was adamant about providing a helping hand in the design work on top of her leadership responsibilities and could not fathom why the people around her were recommending against it. However, after multiple conversations regarding the weight of a leadership position in general, she eventually realised that being a leader isn’t simply delegating tasks; on a larger scale, being a leader involves developing a system to facilitate your teammates towards a common goal in the smoothest and most efficient way possible.

The Importance of Trust

Amal worried so much about being a leader that the anxiety bled through in her leadership style in the first few weeks of her experience. It wasn’t that she lacked trust in her teammates; it was more so that she lacked trust in herself to lead the team properly.

As a result, she felt compelled to go the extra mile to compensate for the possibility that she wasn’t doing enough. This took the form of asking her teammates too many questions that it bordered on being overbearing, or bombarding her teammates with too much information that it bordered on being overwhelming.

It took some work understanding her team dynamics to strike a balance in her management style. She came to understand that, while hearing updates about her teammates’ progress brought her peace of mind, her teammates may not necessarily feel the same. In fact, hearing constant progress updates, including details that are irrelevant to the current work at hand, may be overwhelming instead. So Amal learned to prepare resources ahead of time, only updating the team when necessary, and trusting that her teammates will come to her when those resources are needed.

“[Being a leader] is kind of like running a warehouse - I have to prepare the building, I have to prepare the boxes, organise them in a systematic way in each aisle, so that when you go into an aisle looking for resources, I can just direct you there. So all you have to do is take the box and leave to do your thing.”

A Person-to-Person Approach

At this point, she realised that the reason why she could not possibly be a leader and a designer at the same time was because the energy required to keep the ‘warehouse’ updated and organised all the time was just as mentally taxing as having to use the resources herself. While being a designer meant putting on a designer hat to produce work, as a leader, she had to rotate through multiple hats for every role in the Design and Marketing team at NTFB 2023, which included designers, copywriters, videographers, and marketing strategists. She had to consider each person’s roles, responsibilities, and how their work can be integrated to produce a cohesive brand and an impactful marketing campaign.

When it came to understanding her team, it was all about open communication. Amal preferred having one-on-one conversations with her teammates to support them toward their full potential. By doing so, she could focus on not only understanding their processes and the resources that they need, but also understanding them as a person - their personality, their communication style, their boundaries, and their limits.

Team meetings were also necessary so that everyone in the Design and Marketing department was on the same page, from the specific workflow to the more general goals to be achieved. Once these details were ironed out and clarified, the process became smoother and the team was able to get into the groove of working towards their common goal.

“The alignment was what I needed in order for me to feel comfortable in my position. That was what I needed to move forward.”

Participants of 247 Studios' workshop, including Amal, taking part in the activity at NTFB 2023.
Amal Osmera (in blue pants) taking the opportunity to rest and reflect at 247 Studios' workshop.

It’s All or Nothing

Despite the anxiety that she felt entering the role, reflecting on her performance now, Amal found it to be an eye-opening and enlightening experience, especially for a first-time leader. And while she still believes that the role is intimidating, she also believes that taking more leadership opportunities, for different projects and with different people, is necessary to truly determine her skills as a leader.

Nevertheless, she was grateful that her team was made up of people she was already comfortable with, the majority of them being colleagues from AICREATIVV. She could not attribute the success of NTFB to her leadership alone, but also to the concerted efforts of the team to bring NTFB’s name to public attention.

You may come across a period in your career journey when you feel under-prepared or underqualified to perform a certain task. You may feel the need to do extensive research just to feel prepared - by reading up on books and articles, watching videos, or asking questions to friends and family who have experience - but take it from Amal: you’re only skimming the surface by compiling theories and observations. The best way to learn and develop new skills is by diving right in.

Brunei creative design agency AICREATIVV at NTFB 2023
The AICREATIVV Team commemorating their achievements at the NTFB 2023 Closing Ceremony.

If you’re curious and want to learn more about Amal and the team’s experiences during the National Theatre Festival Brunei, let’s start a conversation over at Our emails are always open.


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