She Leads Africa

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[bctt tweet=”This was leadership in a world where your juniors are old enough to be uncles or aunties” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”]

In 2012, a few weeks shy of my 22nd birthday and armed with my freshly bestowed degree, I was given a leadership role. Leadership was nothing new to me because I had enjoyed a couple of governance roles in school; but this was starkly different. This was the real world.

This was leadership in a world where your juniors are old enough to be uncles or aunties. Though the task was formidable, I accepted the challenge. Four years later I am still in a leadership role and I am actually at ease with it. I still have my fair share of challenges, but I must admit that I have come a long way from my early days.

So without further adieu I present my top 5 tips for acing your leadership role.

Be authentic

For me, I think this is the most important aspect of your leadership journey. You need to understand that it is not a copy and paste type of role. It requires actual effort and analysis of the make up of your team. You need to exert yourself to find out what leadership style works best for you.

In the early years of my leadership journey, I struggled with my leadership style. I realized all too often that sometimes decisions I made were not reflecting what I truly wanted and my team could sense that. Once your team senses that you are uncertain of yourself they begin to become unsure of themselves and their work!

this-is-me-gifAlways ask yourself if a decision made really reflects the values of the company; but also importantly reflects your values and what you wish to achieve. Once you hone your leadership style, your skills will transcend to every interaction you have with your team. Your co-workers become more trusting of your decisions because you trust and they can definitely perceive that

[bctt tweet=”Being authentic is very important aspect for your leadership; figure out what style works” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”]

Create an open environment

Get it from me folks, this works. An open environment is a system that allows for open communication between leaders and their juniors. An open system facilitates better work relationships and ultimately leads to greater accomplishment of desired results. So how can you put it into practice?

Well these days, when something goes disastrously wrong I bite my tongue, hard. Instead I ask; “What went wrong”. By doing so I am able to identify the root cause of the problem but I am also allowing my colleague to express themselves and identify for themselves things they could have done better.i-come-with-a-lot-gif

Additionally, also allow for your team mates to fully own the processes they initiate. Don’t you just hate it when your boss polices every single one of your tasks? Allow your team to discover what works for them and what doesn’t.

In addition to that, have regular ‘check in’ meetings. Ask the team what challenges they are facing during the meeting. Praise employees who have done exceptionally well and also show gratitude to the entire team.

Have intention

If you wish to achieve a goal for your team, make it a core part of your day-to-day work. Leading with intention entails taking steps towards achieving a set goal or target for you and your team. One way I try to lead with intention is jotting down my plan of action; it worked great for me.

Every day I try to identify a step that will help me achieve my set goal. And every day, I encourage my co-workers to do the same. A couple of years ago, one of my superiors told me; “Kuda the corporate world does not award effort, it awards results”. And boy this is the truth! So always focus on the goal ahead whatever it may be and lead your team towards that goal with intention.

[bctt tweet=”Always focus on the goal ahead and lead your team towards that goal with intention” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”]

Keep a leadership journal

Yes, that’s right a journal. Whenever something major at work happens, document it. I promise you, your future self will be so happy and glad you did it. A journal acts as a medium of venting and letting everything out. But it can also provide a solution to hurdles you may be facing.

As you write (honestly) you begin to brainstorm solutions and logically think through a problem. Journalling my leadership came naturally to me but it did not come easy. It was hard for me to write about my own mistakes and literally face them. However, once I overcame this, my journal provides me with a plethora of insight into problem solving and people management.

Remember that leadership style I mentioned earlier? A journal will help you realize that and more about yourself. So don’t dismiss journalling as an activity of hormone crazed teenagers because it sure isn’t.

Take an interest in your co-workers

Because work is essentially work, it is very easy to see your co-workers as merely means to an end, or as people you are forced to be around. You would be so shocked to realize how interesting many of your co-workers are if you simply take an interest. Also, this gives you a better understanding of what roles are fit for people.

friendship cake gifYou don’t have to literally hang out the office and become overnight besties; a few simple changes can help. For example, why not ditch your regular lunch partner at least once a week. Instead sit on a different table with a different colleague and get to know them more. This strategy has helped me tremendously. Not only do I get a feel of the office relationship dynamics but I get people to open up more especially about how they really feel about the work they are handling.

[bctt tweet=”All in all, leadership is a process. It is more the journey than it is the destination” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”]

All in all, leadership is a process. It is more the journey than it is the destination. Forgive yourself for previous misgivings, be nice to your team, communicate effectively and enjoy the ride.

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