Deliberate leader

Over a period of twelve weeks, my wife and I were privileged to facilitate a parenting course. It was clear that most participants were eager to learn, inasmuch as some seemed a tad sceptical as to the efficacy of the course. The course is designed for parents to equip them with practical parenting skills, discipline ‘how-to’ as well as enhancing the parent-child relationship.

As the participants embraced the lessons, they reported marked improvement in their children’s discipline and engagement. The parents also realized that they had a lot of adjustments they had to make in their own behaviour for their children to tow the line.

1) Recognize your current status

A critical mark of a leader is accepting that they do not know everything. Leaders know their weaknesses and seek out ways to plug in these deficiencies. In other words, true leaders demonstrate a high level of humility. It is what differentiates them from a run of the mill existence. In learning they become more competent. “A competent person does what he does well, continually preserving and distilling what’s best – and stop doing what he doesn’t do well,” John C. Maxwell.

2) Invest in knowledge

Continuous learning is the fire that burns under the seat of any credible leader. At one point in your life, you have to accept that you need to reach out for help. Joining a 12-week course and sitting through two-hour sessions at 6:30am on any Saturday is not for the faint hearted! Identify the leadership areas that you need to work on, and doggedly pursue the knowledge that will help you improve on them. Remember, admitting that you do not know something does not make you vulnerable. It strengthens you, as you are able to grow from others who have struggled with the same issues and won.

3) Lead by example

Followers will not naturally do what the leader is not practicing.  In fact, human beings, like water, tend to follow the path of least resistance. If they do follow, most probably it is out of fear, not choice. For discipline to ‘stick in the ribs’, practical examples will have a major influence on your followers. If young children must eat their vegetables, your guess is as good as mine what you need to do. You cannot be chewing on a steak and expect them to plough through a pile of green stuff! It cannot be expected that followers will take the desired action unless the leader walks the plank first.

4) Presence marks the spot

Leadership, parenting and apprenticeship have one common feature: quality time needed. Time to demonstrate how a tool works, guide on practical life skills and cultivate/nurture how social interaction works. Masterpieces inspire the apprentice towards refined skill. A leader will not have any impact unless they establish that values can only be imparted over time. According to psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck, “Until you value yourself, you won’t be able to value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” The same applies to leadership. You have to choose to be available.

5) Leadership starts with you

It is all in the mind. When it comes to indiscipline, many are surprised to realize that a major proportion of blame lies with them and not the child. To the child, everything they encounter is new. The child needs to be immersed into a culture of discipline for them to know what indiscipline is and its consequences. For your child to be disciplined, you have to lead by example. Do not expect your son or daughter to clean up after whatever odyssey they have been up to, when you leave a trail of destruction everywhere you go.

When one decides to take on true leadership, problems just become challenges to be surmounted. “Did you live, did you love, and did you matter?” Brendon Burchard, author of ‘Millionaire Messenger’ and ‘The Charge’. Over to you…

  1. #1 by waswa on May 28, 2012 - 11:27 am

    Thanks Kimunya.

    This is a scenario I see in the course of my work and interactions every day. In fact point 5-‘Leadership starts with you’ is a continuation of point 3-‘Leading by example’. And the principles maintained in raising children are the same employed in running an organization:

    You see, culture is articulated and maintained by the leaders of any organization; morale is an indicator of the health and condition of the culture at any given time. I can’t help but draw parallels with the military. I had the privilege of training Kenyan military officer cadets for three years. On both counts, the military pays a lot of attention to how well its leaders embody the culture and maintain high morale through example.

    The military does an excellent job of training and reinforcing leadership in its officers. This is done through reinforcing good disciplines and through reinforcing a culture of honor, sacrifice and service. In my interaction with officers who served in the Kenya Defence Forces and who later transitioned into civilian leadership roles in business I noticed some common themes that went far beyond admirable traits or desirable leadership characteristics.

    Unfortunately, Businesses today hardly train their people for leadership, either formally or informally. Is it because parenting for business-owners was never done? You tell me. Sometimes I feel as though some leaders were never ‘brought up’ but just ‘grew’.

    This creates a huge gap when real leadership is needed. Business is very fluid. Every business leader has to be ready to assume greater responsibility and leadership without notice when the situation changes. In most businesses today the owner or CEO may wish that every employee was more responsible, or thought like an owner, but the ethos and expectation of leadership is missing from most organizations, even at the top.

    Leadership provides the fuel to drive an organization’s most important asset: human beings. Leadership takes new ideas to market. Leadership inspires people to work harder and smarter. Leadership produces winners.

    As a captain of industry, you must have tenfold the leadership experience of your counterparts.

    Maybe you need to take your parenting lessons to the CEOs!

    Tuendelee kuongea…

    • #2 by KimunyaMugo on May 28, 2012 - 12:11 pm

      Major points you raise here, sir! They embody the question of culture, that whole environment (physical, psychological, family, etc.) that influences the development of any human being. If the culture is one of nurture, high performance, accountability, and direction, then leaders begin to emerge. If the culture is rotten, mediocrity has to fill the vacuum…and the results will be there for all to see.

  2. #3 by MumBi (@TheMumBi) on May 28, 2012 - 2:57 am

    nice one.. really nice one! really enjoyed this despite.. putting it on the burner for the last couple of days (its 2.55am Monday) if i was to check out an see if i was a leader.. i cant say im anywhere close.. in ALL 5.. but i am aware of them and observe them somewhat. This only articulated it well what need to be done more.

    • #4 by KimunyaMugo on May 28, 2012 - 9:43 am

      2.55am, wow! This is evidence that you are working on it. Leadership comes from the heart as you take the steps to better yourself. Then as it is said, “Love…and a cough cannot be hid”. Once you start practicing real leadership, it will be evident for all to see. All the best in your journey. And thank you for stopping by…

  3. #5 by Justus on May 27, 2012 - 6:03 pm

    This is a great article. I agree that you cannot teach your kids what you are not. I am learning that I have to continuously improve my knowledge on parenting, if I am to have my kids go beyond where I reached. I cannot bring up my children then way i was brought up. Nice Insights here.

    • #6 by KimunyaMugo on May 27, 2012 - 10:31 pm

      On the money Justus. Hope all goes well with your journey, and don’t forget to enjoy the ‘sights and sounds’ while you are at it.

  4. #7 by ladyintheloge on May 27, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    Anyone who is serious about being a leader needs to read and heed the principles in this post. They are not only accurate, they are well articulated, and obviously pursued by the author. That means Kimunya knows whereof he speaks. Those who have ears let them hear.

    • #8 by KimunyaMugo on May 27, 2012 - 5:25 pm

      Thank you for your time and comments. The more we are true to ourselves, the better our communities will become. Unfortunately, many of us have developed what I term as “Pathological selfishness” (a discussion for my next post). This is trying to advance ourselves at the expense of fellow human beings.

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