Confidence is necessary as you scale up the corporate stepladder, your success is always determined not so much by your technical ability but by your people skills in Kenya. Your success depends upon the support of others. You cannot succeed alone; you require their good will to lift you up to success. Please note that I did not mention that you climb on them on your way to the top. That means you have to make yourself lighter to lift. Kenyans either support you willingly or they do not support you at all.
Your people skills determine two critical aspects of your career in Kenya. One is how ‘promotable’ you are and the second is your success. Often times when employers are discussing on someone’s promotion, the question regarding the ability to relate with people is key. Interestingly, it is not the people above you that pull you upwards; rather it is the people below you who push you up.
I would like to share with you a few fundamental principles which I believe will empower you to increase your leadership confidence in Kenya’s context. Leadership is all about the fuzzy intangibles; the way you speak, the metaphors you use, and the relationships you nature.
1) First as a leader, you have to spread some love around within your circles. What I mean by love here is the selfless promotion of the growth of others. The act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your business partners. What are these intangibles: Our knowledge, our networks, and most importantly our compassion? That human ability to reach out to others in warmth; may be through eye to eye contact, smile, touch or words. I would like to suggest to you to consider doing the following:
a) Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely. How? I am glad you are asking. Cultivate the quality of being interested in knowing more about the people you influence beyond what they do in your organization. Learn to remember people names, anniversaries, birthdays, and their children’s names.
b) Make people like you: Become a people magnet. Don’t be egotistical; guard against the impression that you know it well and never miss an opportunity to say congratulations upon anyone’s achievement. Remember that your smile is the messenger of your good will to others.
2) Develop your communication skills. Communication is a vital tool in leadership. Most Kenyans actually don’t know what exactly is required of them. Why do you need to develop your communication skills? I will tell you. It is because it is through communication that you as a leader or manager get your thinking across to the people you lead and also get to know what they are up to. Two important things I would like to bring to your attention under communication:
a) Communicate people’s worth until they come to see it in themselves.
b) Learn how to listen to people: Most people think that listening is just keeping quiet while the other person is talking waiting for them to finish so that you can begin.
3) Treat people as special: The psychologists say that every human being regardless of their gender, age, skin color, or level of education has among other psychological needs:
a) The need to feel important
b) The need to feel appreciated
c) And the need to feel admired.
Good leaders in Kenya treat people as human beings. They make them feel needed and heeded. They make people feel measured and not monitored. Leadership an affair. Leadership is not an affair of the mind but of the heart. Leadership is a love affair; staying in love with the people that you influence. Leadership development is in essence self development.