I wrote a thread on leadership on Twitter some weeks back, and it got the attention that I wasn’t expecting. Several people said it was insightful, so I thought of sharing it here.
So a friend of mine and I were talking and we happened to get into the topic of some harmful leadership habits. One of them is being obsessed with looking important and wanting your absence to be felt by the team. Some leaders do not teach the team how to do really important tasks just so when they leave, they can be seen as someone important and valuable. It’s like creating a dependency mentality in the team by taking on all the responsibilities.
Firstly, I think it’s kind of childish to be a leader that is selfish by being obsessed with looking important. A good leader should be one that can teach and have a sustainable organization. Imagine doing even the most basic tasks yourself just to look important? It’s damaging! Even parents at some point don’t expect their child to be so dependent on them. They are told they are spoiling their children. It’s the same with leadership. A good leader will have a team working even when s/he is gone (temporarily or permanently). A good leader delegates. A good leader trains and mentors. A good leader has vision. A good leader, in the long run, also creates leaders.
When I was still in college, I started mentoring secondary school girls under Little Big Prints. In my 4th year, I took on the role of heading the mentorship team as Project Coordinator. One of the mistakes I made when I started out as a leader was not delegating. I took all tasks myself because I thought my team wouldn’t do it the way I wanted. But in the end, it left me drained; and when I was absent, there was disaster. But it was MY fault. The team didnt know what was going on because “Faith amapanga zimenezi week ili yonse” (Faith is responsible for this every week).
Elita, who is the founder, was away for a Master’s at this point. So I talked to her about how tired I always was and she simply said, “Faith, learn to delegate.” Fortunately, I took a step back and evaluated myself. Where was I going wrong? How did Elita manage to mentor me into being a leader too? Well, she never took all the responsibility herself. Even better, we always made decisions together, even the big ones! So I learnt to delegate and make decisions together with the team. It really improved things for me (I got my rest) and for our overall objective. I learnt that your team can tell whether you trust them or not, and if you don’t, it is damaging in the long term.
In summary, a leader should learn to put their ego aside and think of sustainability. I don’t mean you should give out ALL your tasks to the team or that you shouldn’t have some kind of control. You must learn to balance and THINK LONG TERM. What if you fall ill? Will the team go on the day without you and make decisions? Can they perform even the basic tasks?
I think overall, I am thankful to be part of Little Big Prints. It is honestly the dream team. Everyone has their own skill that put together, fulfils our objective. We have also incorporated training the college mentors to not only be mentors for secondary school girls, but to be future leaders.
If you would like to know more about Little Big Prints and follow us on our journey, you can like our Facebook page.
Also, a big shoutout to Elita Chamdimba for being selected as one of SADC’s Influential Person. Congratulations! This is well deserved!