As it appeared in the Daily Nation on December 8th 2020
Dr Lucy Kiruthu
Many claim to be leaders. This claim could be true because at least the majority of us at the very least are involved in leading ourselves. Besides, whether one is a good or bad leader they are still considered a leader. How many of our leaders have the leadership qualities required to lead others well? Amongst the political class, we rank poorly. Many political leaders do not necessarily exemplify desirable leadership qualities. Unfortunately, some even believe they were simply born leaders. However, in the world of business, we do much better on matters leadership. Many business leaders have intentionally developed their leadership abilities over time. They are better leaders today because they grew into leadership.
How do we grow into leadership? I believe that leadership is a journey. Many great leaders were not necessarily born in a family of leaders. Some of the best leaders today are still developing themselves. In some smart businesses, leadership development is intentional. Management trainee programs have been very popular avenues of growing leaders. I believe that a commitment to self-leadership and an interest in leadership, in general, plays a key role in making us become better leaders. Self-leadership makes us intentional in influencing our thought process, our emotions and our actions. Those that embrace desirable leadership qualities in their everyday living stand out as better leaders.
A few days ago, I had an interesting conversation with one of our business leaders in Kenya. His story is unlike many, he joined the company he leads today as a field engineer 35 years ago. David Gatende’s leadership journey saw him grow through the ranks to become the group CEO at Davis and Shirtliff. For those intending to grow into leadership at the workplace, David mentioned that one has to be good at what they do along the journey. He called for patience and the need to build strong personal values specifically pointing out integrity as most valuable. David also alluded to his recognition that a higher authority (God) has been at the center of his leadership journey. Sometimes the leadership journey is not very smooth. It is important to be ready for the rough patches and David pointed out the readiness to be misunderstood as part of the formulae to growing into leadership.
Our businesses and our country can only flourish if we grow more good leaders. Our homes, our learning institutions, our businesses and our government institutions are the perfect places to grow leaders. Unfortunately, some homes, schools, businesses, governments are busy growing bad leaders because there is no focus on character. Good leaders are not only focused on what they want. Good leaders focus on others and lead them towards the achievement of desired goals. Great leaders do not lead blindly, they have a vision, as such, they can see, and they seek to create a better future for all. Further, such leaders are ready to take up responsibility and to make tough decisions. To grow into leadership, we need good and great leaders as our mentors. It is never too early to grow into leadership and the leadership development journey has no end. We need to involve young leaders in activities that will help improve their skills, abilities and confidence level! Above all, let us grow in our understanding of effective leadership!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy