First of all, a big shout out to the SLA team for this empowering conference in Accra. If they are in your country, don’t snooze or you’ll lose out on the keys to success.
Lucy Quist, MD of Airtel Ghana came through the SheHiveAccra and laid down nuggets for making it in corporate Ghana. While she highlighted teamwork, leadership skills and personal values, if I had to pick one word to remember from Lucy Quist’s session, it would be integrity.
It was eye opening to hear Lucy Quist highlight the ways in which the lack of integrity in Ghana and Africa as a whole is culturally engrained. For her, it is this lack of integrity that holds Ghana back and I must say I agree with her 101 percent. Lack of integrity makes it hard to trust that any task delegated to subordinates or left to the system will be performed efficiently, which is a stark difference from the Western world.
When you do not have integrity or do not hold yourself to a higher standard in developing economies, where people are constantly looking for ways to shortchange the system, it is impossible to reach your fullest potential and be excellent at what you do. This issue of integrity among the masses results in the creation of unnecessary problems that waste time and money.
As African women in leadership, we must hold ourselves to a high standard. We can’t say one thing and behave another way. We must walk the talk and stay true to our values. It is the only way to preserve our integrity. It is when we show that we have integrity that we can inspire others to do the same. We must lead by example.
Lucy also honed in on the fact that although women have a place at the table, the challenge facing Ghanaian women is the reluctance to push oneself up the ladder and the absence of female role models at the top to help pull others up.
Because Lucy has had role models since she was 17, she stressed the importance of having people around you who support you and drive you to be the best version of yourself.
Another important point Lucy made was that in Africa, compared to the Western world, people openly state that they disagree with women in charge. While this may seem demoralizing, Lucy has shown leadership by sticking to her guns. As a leader, she doesn’t feel the need to justify herself to anyone or prove why she has her position.
In simple words, you are in your position because you are doing something right, so keep going, stick to your instincts and lead your team to success.
Lucy added that being a leader, however, does not mean that one should lose sight of their soft skills aka people skills. As you go further up the corporate ladder, your job slowly diverts into managing and influencing people.
To succeed, you have to be able to create an environment within which people can shine. You have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and be willing to learn consistently. Be a leader that people respect and look up to, and you will lead a successful team.
The A Team
Finally, Lucy advised that you need an excellent team around you. You need the crème de la crème who filter and think things through before they present it to you. This group reduces the burden of micro managing and taking on extra work, their work.
Lucy used the analogy of the captain of a ship for how she views her role and the support staff around her. As the leader, you must have people around you that do all the work under deck, to allow you the mental space to see ahead and steer the company for success. Say no to mediocrity. But also, give people room to succeed, learn and grow. Allow lessons and growth in the company.
Hats off to Lucy Quist. After her session, I knew I had found myself another role model.