Last year I came across an African saying which made me re-think my life. The saying, “if you stand in the sun when you are young, you will sit in the shade when you are old” made me question my quest of leadership and if at all I am making any move towards what I presume to be my ultimate desire. Many of us young people today, especially those of us called the millenials are taken to despise the leadership role that the society “bestowed” on us. The reasons for this assumption may be many. But I am one of the few believers who believe that even we millenials have a chance of becoming great and transformational leaders.
2018 began with me setting a goal that I will read one book per week making fifty two books per year. In my 8th week I read a book titled “A PERSONAL LEADERSHIP GUIDE FOR THE YOUTH” by Ntangeki Nshala. A former banker and vice president of Bank M, a proud member and past president of the Rotary Club of Mzizima, Mr. Ntangeki speaks of 50 important life skills never taught at school. Now I shall not talk of all of them but I shall select a few which I believe every young man and woman can practice in the quest of becoming leaders.
1. FEAR OF GOD/PUTTING GOD FIRST
I do not speak of any particular religion/faith. I believe every religion advocates among other things for self-discipline, hard work and the love for people. Involving GOD in every step of your journey will not only make you a good leader but it will make you recognize that GOD is the author of leadership. Putting GOD first will enable you to understand that true leadership is not an act of self, it is an act of recognizing that there is someone or some force higher than you that can help you when you cannot act on your own wisdom. Putting GOD first will create in you humbleness and respect not only to your superiors but also to those below you.
2. DREAMING BIG
Nelson Mandela once said, “there is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” As a young man/woman you should be able to picture a future so BIG that it scares you. My pastor once told me that my dream should be as BIG as the GOD I worship. Dream BIG in everything that touches your life. If you are studying make sure you aim for the absolutely best. If you are working make sure your dreams benefit you, your colleagues and your employer. A dream which can only be fulfilled by you is not a BIG dream, it must involve many people. Remember, your life is in the limit of your sight. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years? Dream BIG, it does not cost a shilling.
3. VOLUNTEER TO LEAD
Note that the caption above says “volunteer”. That means do not wait to be asked or tasked to lead. I am a young man in my early 20s and one thing I know for a fact is that visionary employers not only look for employees, they search for leaders. Visionary businessmen do not look for business partners, they look for leaders. How do you separate yourself from the crowd? Let me assure you that leaders are in a greater demand than ever before.
As today’s youth, you should take time to practice leadership. And hey, they say practice makes perfect for a reason. Volunteer at your school, at your club, at church, mosque, at your job or in your society just make sure you practice leadership. Practice to have 3, 4, 5…10 people under you working on a project. In that way, your value increases and you will be separated from the crowd.
4. READ, READ & READ
“If you want to work with me, make sure you read one article per day.” That is what my boss told me when I started working in my current job. He later revealed that he wanted me to be an excellent writer. Being an avid reader myself, I understand that for me to be slightly better than everyone else I must be a broad thinker, an opportunity seeker, a good leader and a good person to work with. All these qualities can be acquired through reading. I assure you this, reading will broaden your way of thinking, give you experiences of others, provide you with great tips of becoming a great leader and it automatically corrects your language skills in terms of writing and increases your vocabulary. All these qualities will be in some way valuable to you and to your employer/business partner. Stop blaming the schools you attended and start reading more.
5. THE POWER OF WORDS
One day I read a quote which says, “Words, once they are spoken, can only be forgiven but rarely forgotten.” What do you speak? One thing I came to realize is that no one can know your thoughts save for you and GOD. But when you speak, we can accurately tell what you think about. I want to share with you a bible verse, Ephesians 4:29 which says, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” If you, young man/woman want to be a great leader, you should be very careful of what you say. Whatever situation you might be in, whether giving a speech, talking to friends/colleagues, writing an article or delivering any message through social media, make sure you are careful with your words as they highly reflect on who you are.
IS THAT ALL???
No, that is not all, remember I only took a portion of what I had a chance to learn. What I have written is not exactly what the author wrote but what I have learnt. Becoming a great leader for me is a sum of small, minute details paid attention on and exercised daily. Everything is intentional, we need to intend on growing, learning and excelling in leadership. Let us remember leadership does not start by being a CEO or a president, it starts with self leadership and intentionally growing from there. We have a chance to excellence, we have chance to grow and become GREAT. Play your part.