BeYB welcomes guest blogger, Kimunya Mugo!
I am happy to be connected with Kimunya Mugo who is a leadership buff from Nairobi, Kenya. In his guest post, he share show a leadership brand needs to adopt two principles that foster a teaching environment: mentors and classics.
How many times has your organization or business held team-building excursions? How about ‘capacity building’ workshops and training? What was the outcome?
Was there an improvement in team dynamics just because a bunch of ‘strangers’ went through some physical or mental torture at the company’s expense?
These questions pricked at my conscience when I came across Sir Walter Scott’s words, “All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.” More thought provoked some deeper inquiry into why so often the desired outcome is elusive.
Unless a person is ready to change himself, no amount of money, concepts, techniques or gizmos invested in them will work any magic. “People cannot be educated unless they choose to seek education, and they seek it when they are inspired by great teachers, past and present,” writes Olivier Van DeMille. The type of relationship between a teacher [leader] and student [follower] governs any individual’s development.
This holds true for leadership. It does not matter how great a leader I may be.
“If my vision does not excite my followers, then my mission is just but a lame duck.” Tweet This!
It will never find its wings! If they are not aware how to think, then they will never learn. I therefore propose that two key ingredients then become necessary to take any leadership to the desired levels. These are a rabid pursuit to teach and to inspire. And for me to become an effective leader, I have to seriously integrate them as principle building blocks of my personal brand.
Teach…don’t focus on educating
To become a great leader, my leadership brand has to adopt two principles that foster a teaching environment: mentors and classics.
As a mentor, I constantly have to interface directly with my followers. They have to see and feel me. However, I also need to remain extremely focused that the small details do not derail me from the goal. I also have to learn to step back when my follower begins to make connections on his or her own. The idea is to consistently encourage a process of self-discovery. According to Mortimer J. Alder, “…the teacher’s art consists largely in devices whereby one individual can help another to lift himself from a state of knowing and understanding more.”
An effective leader will always turn to principles, methods, and practices developed by legendary teachers past and present. My leadership has to be fed by the second principle, classics. “It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds… In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours,” notes William Ellery Channing. These then I adopt to refine and propel my ability to lead. Only by immersing myself into the greatness of the classics can I then become successful in leading others.
Inspire…the ‘big stick’
“Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act,” said Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric. To inspire, I need to spend time to help my followers understand how to think. If they know how to think, then it sets them on the journey to become effective leaders. My greatest challenge, therefore, is to understand my followers. I need to customize my engagement with each individual in order to creatively encourage him or her to seek and personally pursue leadership.
They then will begin to understand that hard work becomes necessary to transform their thoughts into reality. Innovation becomes their driving force and this helps derive the change desperately needed to improve them, to engage humanity towards greatness. As Nelson Mandela once said, “We need inspiration…to build our nation we must exceed all our expectations.” Great leaders inspire people to heights and depths they thought never existed, to realms reserved for legends.
I, therefore, have to constantly be on the lookout for the great potential in others. Not only should I readily point this out to them, but also be willing to pay the cost of helping them to work out that potential into noble service to humanity.
With teaching and inspiration as my cornerstones, then it becomes possible for my followers to build their own brand, measure their progress, learn from the experience, and then loop back to building again.
There is no better example of a training ground for building personal brands than at home. It is here that parents have the best opportunity to horn their leadership. “Aristede, says Plutach, was not always in his office, but was always useful to his country. For his house was a public school of virtue, wisdom and policy.” George Turnbull, 1742.