Everything rises and falls on leadership

Leadership is a subject that has in recent years intrigued me as I grow professionally and personally. I tend to look at many things through the lenses of leadership and I invite my readers and clients to walk with me on this journey of exploration.

Have you ever wondered what makes certain organisations great? Have you once looked at a country like Rwanda that was almost wiped off the face of earth but somehow turned its ashes into beauty and has sustained growth against all odds?

Did you, like many, come to the conclusion that the reason behind this success must surely be donor aid or unprecedented human capacity or simply luck?
In my research and analysis I have come to believe without doubt that the answer revolves around leadership. It is quite simple; if you have a poor leader you will be a poor organisation or a poor nation. Period!

Did you know that how well you lead determines how successful and effective your office or organisation or unit/department will become? Your office will not grow beyond your ability to lead; in other words your organisation cannot achieve greatness beyond your leadership ability.

With the John Maxwell Team, the core philosophy is “everything rises and falls on leadership”; we also term it as “a leadership LID”, meaning that the leader determines the limit on the potential for the organization to grow.

I couldn’t agree more. Jim Collins, in his extensive research of what makes companies great and others simply good, concludes that leaders of great companies were all cut from the same cloth. They had similar traits that made them standout and therefore their organisations.

Have you ever had a bad boss who made you doubt even your most brilliant professional track record? I clearly remember two distinct bosses I ‘ve had in the past that made a mark on my professional life.

One was a boss under whose leadership the office faced difficult times and challenges in the overall performance, staff motivation, partnerships and for some reason everyone in the office seemed to be incompetent.

I witnessed junior and senior staff resign, and I confirmed what is believed to be true that “people leave bosses not organisation”. Looking at that turmoil, I knew deep down that something was very wrong but I could not put a finger on it.

Years later, a new boss came on board, served the same office, same staff, same country programme but reaped amazing results; high performance, great staff morale, excellent partnerships and all of a sadden everyone was very competent.

As I pondered what made the world of a difference, I studied the book of Kings in the Bible and it all madesense! It was all about their (kings) leadership abilities.

Whenever, Israelites had an excellent king/leader, everything went well for the people. They defeated their enemies, they maintained peace and prosperity.

But it was a disaster whenever they had a bad king. It was so obvious that the issue was with the kings/leaders. They determined whether the nation had a chance for growth and development. Leadership is everything folks! How weak or strong are you? Are you consciously or unconsciously aware of your leadership abilities? Is your organisation or team you are leading thriving or crumbling?

To illustrate this further, let us compare the nation of Rwanda in the years that built up to 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and the Rwanda today; 22 years after the Genocide; It is a nation of the same people, (Rwandans), same country size, same natural resources but the difference in growth and development is irrefutably remarkable, why? Simple, it is LEADERSHIP.

I strongly believe that Rwanda would not be what it is today if it was not for its leadership. No other explanations needed, its straight forward.

Pastor Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church, had this to say of Rwanda’s leadership. “Most nations are validated by their strength in exports; Rwanda can become famous for exporting leadership...Rwanda should be the leadership and innovation capital of the continent of Africa...world leaders should be studying Rwanda. This should be the model.”

As a young leader, I remember transitioning from being responsible for my own performance, to being responsible for other people’s performance leadership.
With no form of mentorship or guidance, I dived in and learned a lot the hard way, making mistakes I could have avoided if only I would have been professionally coached on what leadership really means.

It is unfortunate how much organisations spend annually on their staff recruited to leadership positions yet little or no attention is paid on how well they lead. It is assumed that they are good at it or that they will figure it out as they go or that they will be sent for trainings here and there.

I wish someone had advised me and clarified for me that my leadership abilities, not my technical expertise, would determine the effectiveness of my team; my ability to lead determines how far, how small, how big, how low and how high the growth of my team would be, then perhaps I would have paid more attention to my leadership abilities, identified my leadership gaps and strengths, in order to use these core competences to produce results for growth.

You do not have to struggle like I did, you should not cruise through your leadership positions or areas of influence with self doubts and second guessing every decision you make!

My point is, having guidance and a leadership professional coach can save you years of learning through the hard way. Coaching will help you learn how to work smart and give you a dose of confidence you need to serve/lead well.

My heart goes out to all professionals out there who are trying to make it in the corporate world with no form of mentorship or coaching. You don’t have to do it alone!

It is imperative that every professional must invest in a good coach because as earlier quoted;”everything rises and falls on leadership”.

The writer is an Independent Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker with the John Maxwell Team. Prior to this, she served as an Operations Manager and Project Specialist at UNFPA, both in Rwanda and New York.

www.ab-leadership.com