The President, Uhuru Kenyatta, once said the phrase you don’t want to hear from a President. “Mnataka nifanye nini jameni,” leaving our fate to wind or something. We’ll defend him a little because you can relate. Leadership is tricky. You don’t get to be as close to the action as you would like. But the fingers point to you first when things go wrong.
There are perks. Sometimes when a member of your team wants a squabble over their “better” idea, you can use the opportunity to remind them who owns the big chair. It’s allowed, just don’t let it get into your head. For many women entrepreneurs, this is not a comfortable line to cross. Women are pretty nice. But be assured, putting your foot down is part of your leadership responsibility to coordinate it all such that it all comes together.
Yes, it’s not easy. If aligning results was easy you wouldn’t be reading about how Nairobi needs to spend sh.100 billion to operate a few buses. We usually just limit out focus on leadership to the old school traits. These include being self-assured and able to keep it cool. They still work, do them. But there are underrated leadership traits that will make a big difference in your business operations. Let’s see how:
Be a naive woman
There’s a couple of secrets other women entrepreneurs don’t know, which we’ll share with you. Don’t listen to the loudest person in the room, and the listener controls the conversation. These are a few arguments for why naive listening works. It will be good leardership if you condition yourself to just listen. No bias, no interrupting, no losing attention; only listening. You’ll be surprised how easier it will be to avoid conflict in the first place, since problems are rectified so soon. It doesn’t just concern focusing on the message, not messenger, but also customers. One tip is that your customer should talk around twice as much as you. Saying things, repeating yourself is much harder anyway, don’t you think?
Give instructions not orders
There, this is why middle managers are hated. Also, because they are middle men just blocking efficiency. Just to be sure, I went and looked for the dictionary difference between instruct and order. When you order you only give the ‘what’ part. When you instruct, you give the ‘how’. If you show preference for the latter, you’ll stop having problems of employee-didn’t-do-it-exactly-how-I-had-it-in-mind. People always interpret things differently and have their own methods. For what it’s worth, instructions can be a teachable moment for your team.
It has to be said, though, that your business routine operations should remain orders – it is found that, in as much as they are innovative, your creative employees make simple things difficult. Please put up with them, but don’t let them.
Be a role model
Lack of role models is a known reason why many women in Kenya hesitate to become entrepreneurs. It is also why our public offices are borderline dysfunctional and private establishments don’t achieve as much. Leadership entails setting the bar. When your employees see you showing up early, pulling more than your weight – you bet they’ll think twice about slacking about. Employees quickly figure out where the line is drawn with you. It’s up to you to set high standards. This means you should identify your own bad habits and rectify them first, before losing your cool over anyone. Not my idea, Jesus is the one who said so. You should also establish new ideals for you to aspire to get close to.0