When I reflect on where I have been in my leadership journey, I realize that the many unintentional mistakes I made along the way were set up by our Heavenly Father. My leadership training began as a senior social worker with a number of student and qualified social workers reporting to me; thereafter I was a group executive at a bank. Later I became CEO and Executive Chairperson in an infrastructure development organization specializing in engineering, development finance, and social development activities. All these people who came across my path as a leader taught me a lot of things.
I learnt that a leader has to be ethical, people focused, inspirational, resilient, passionate and healthy. I was exposed to situations where I had to be consistent, fair and polite, yet take difficult and sometimes unexpected stands when required. I had to allow people in my business to go, whilst training and empowering those who stayed. I learnt to be patient and to accommodate some people’s slower pace, to let go of perfectionism, and allow innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
I had to practice to listen attentively and not speak until someone had finished speaking. I learnt to think in terms of macro and not micro situations and strategies, to execute plans that were developed by others, and share all of my knowledge with my team. I learnt to work as part of a team and to move at the pace of the others, sometimes sitting back and watching. I learnt these characteristics the hard way. I chose to learn because I believe in doing the right thing, forgetting about myself and focusing on others and on the bigger picture.
What I did not know is that to be a leader requires ethical thinking. Most of my actions may have been ethical because of how I was raised, who I am, and my belief and values system, but I still learnt a lot from being an ethical leader.
The environments in which I live and work challenge me every single day to remain ethical in all I do. Is it easy? NO. It is extremely difficult especially in situations where bribes and corruption are the order of the day. I continue making ethical choices only through the grace of God.