The ELF leadership training took me on a date with myself. When I enrolled, I knew what I wanted to become (my dream career) and the plans for my Community Initiative – DadaPower were on my fingertips. I also knew that I am a choleric: Inward-oriented, strict to principles, planful and confident among others. I could not wait for the training to start so I could learn more about Leadership. Among the many things that I learnt during the six months, two things stood out for me: The need to do first things first, and what transformational leadership means.
Doing first things first is about working on the first person; me. It means that to lead others, I must lead myself first. That I need to understand myself and be comfortable in my skin. Understanding oneself – personal values, temperament, passion, friendships, abilities, weaknesses and personal vision – is the initial step in the journey of successful leadership. Taking the course gave us the opportunity to take personal tests with Psychologists who then deeply delved into the need to not only understand my personality, but also those of the people who serve in my Initiative. Before that session, I had never thought about it. Serving in an organization where people voluntarily work to give back to the community is not easy. Occasionally, there are challenges such as keeping time, financial constraints among others. At some point, personalities collide especially when people do not understand each other. Learning this important aspect of personalities made me look at my colleagues differently and our relationships have become better.
Also, I got to understand why prominent leaders such as Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, Leymah Gbowee and Barrack Obama managed to break odds, build great legacies and remain uncontroversial. Transformational leadership stands on two legs; Character and Capacity. Character is about whom we are; the sum total of the decisions we make, and our personal values. It is about what we do when no one is watching. Authentic leadership demands of sober character. Because there are decisions to be made, a leader has to always be stable enough to make the right decisions. They have to possess a vision that has the interests of many. Character inspires and models those who come after us, and those we lead. Good character is mostly associated with hard work, sacrifice, commitment and persistence.
Capacity, a fundamental pillar of leadership, is about knowledge and skills. So why does a leader need to have Capacity? Leadership is about setting perspectives that influence followers. More often than not, the utterances of a leader persuade people to take certain actions. It is only wise if a leader is well informed on matters such as National values, the Economy, Environment, Politics, Historical injustices and the Country’s past achievements. The way to know about all these is by having vast knowledge about all them which is made possible through reading, researching and substantial interaction with different people.
ELF taught me to embrace a reading culture. It is hard to spend a day without reading a book. I carry a book in my bag everywhere I go. I already have a list of those I wish to read in my bucket list. I follow National and International news, and I am keen to note challenges facing my community. I have learnt that I can transform my society if only I keep focused on my Vision, which is to empower young girls economically and culturally through Capacity building, mentorship and engaging activities. Because of the ELF training, I am now ready to step forth courageously into a future unknown, to champion transformational community projects.
~Thank you ELF!~