Thursday, April 13, 2017

What it means to be a humble leader; Holy Thursday Leadership reflections.

Humility has often been confused for lack of confidence. Employees shy away from selling their skills. Christians often sell themselves short. There is a Christian Swahili saying, ‘tenda wema nenda zako’ direct translation would be “do good and go your way”. For this reason, many opportunities and leadership positions tend to end in the wrong hands. Today is Holy Thursday, a day in the Catholic Church calendar where there is a Feet Washing Ceremony. Jesus Christ washed his disciple’s feet (John 13:4-5) thousands of years ago. The same tradition has been handed down to the present day church. As a child, it never occurred to me what the whole event was about. It felt like we were repeating history. Not until I was in such a private session with members of my Bible study. It is an act of humility. The leader in the Bible study is the first to take a towel. He will go round washing everyone’s feet. With regards to Christianity, you wash the feet of person that you have not forgiven. The exercise brought a lot of peace in my heart. Moving to business, I realized that humility can be demonstrated in the following ways: 1. Do not shout at your employees 2. Do not use offensive words 3. Look someone in the face when they are speaking. It shows that you are paying attention and that you have offered to listen. 4. Look someone in the face when you are shaking their hand. 5. Correct an employee privately. Do not embarrass your employee. 6. Plan a feedback session. No outbursts whatsoever. Feedback is best given as a sandwich (start with the good, say the bad, end with the good). If you as a leader keep pointing out the bad, it shows that you do not have a spirit of appreciation. Most employees quit because the immediate supervisor was a piece of hell. Do not let competent employees resign because you cannot manage your interactions with them. 7. Walk over to your employee and demonstrate how you want a report. Do not assume that just because you sent an attachment, the employee will figure it out. 8. Create an open discussion forum. Once in a while, or whenever need be, call an employee and ask them to explain their point. 9. Keep an open door policy. This has been kept as theory, but it can be practiced, let your employee know that they can interrupt you. This will come in handy in case of an emergency. 10. Anyone with a communication role should be able to report to the direct CEO or director. This may help curtail any crisis and nip it at the bud. 11. Employ change management tactics. Know who was running the show before you took the role. Affirm their authority and learn from them. You could be stepping on thin ice if you do not do so. 12. Never issue a command to a senior person and then copy their junior. It would appear that the senior is being monitored. 13. Keep in mind that change is inevitable. Therefore, share information. Tomorrow someone else will take up the position. Groom the next person for a smooth transition. Do not make the grave rich. Leave a legacy in the minds and hearts of real people. 14. Be genuinely interested in your junior’s career aspirations and give leads on growth. Even if they may outshine you. The world is a huge sea. Opportunities never end. You never know what tomorrow holds. Mentor and coach your staff. If possible organise a mentorship programme. 15. Acknowledge when you are wrong. Do not be afraid to apologize. Take a personality test. It’s free online. Analyse how your personality affects the people around you. Do not assume that silence is contentment. 16. Seek opinion, suggestions, advise of subordinates 17. Be objective in your decision making. In terms of appraisals and performance, do not show personal perceptions and prejudice. 18. Meet and greet your staff. Be warm and create a friendly demeanour 19. Be humane. Acknowledge that an employee is more than their work. Other external factors influence performance e.g. Illness, death, family crisis, religious factors. Do not force work around such issues. 20. Apply basic etiquette in all your interactions and activities e.g email, phone, eating, face to face conversations. All these “how tos” are free on the internet. Do not issue email as a legal catch. The same trap you set out for others will catch you. If someone has made an error. Call. Explain in person. Do not sit and smile because there is an email that will cover you in case of a legal suit. Soon, I will be graduating. I am currently enrolled on a Master’s programme for Corporate Communication at Daystar University. The University has been founded on the core principle of Servant Leadership. During graduation, an individual is awarded the Order of the Towel; a symbol of servant leadership. The towel is to demonstrate “Feet Washing”. The core message is that wherever you will be, be a servant leader. May God grant me the wisdom and humility to exude Servant Leadership in all my interactions. In conclusion. The world is watching. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Whatever you serve may be served to you. Be a mirror of what you would like to receive from others. Happy Holy Thursday!

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