Leadership is getting people to do things not because they are asked but because they want to. A model leader’s desire is to make people want to take up responsibility. Once you make people see themselves in the decisions they take, they are genuinely motivated to take part in the process and then a great team is formed. A true leader lives by example and instils confidence and trust in the people.
I believe leaders can be born but one can also learn the skills of great leadership. We have people who have the natural aura and charisma to pull people but those skills need to be learnt.
My name is Isatu Niang, I am a woman with diverse cultural experiences, a mother, a wife and professional in the development field. Being a mother and a human resource person means I am working with, or managing people all the time. Whether they are the people I work with or my kids at home, there is one thing that runs across and that is the fact that it takes leadership skills to juggle the people I work with, my kids both independently and simultaneously.
THE PACK MAKES THE LEADER
You can’t be a leader without having anyone to lead. It is the people you have been entrusted with who qualify you as a leader, and as such you are a leader by virtue of the people who look up to you. They are your team members, always remember that building teams takes courage and vision. You must develop the courage to speak the truth and the vision to drive people in a desired direction. Unfortunately one of the biggest deterrents in building teams in Africa is that people are mostly focused on what is in it for them than for the greater good. However, we need to act as a collective force if we are to effect meaningful changes whether at home or at work.
PURPOSE IS KEY
Achievement is important but I would choose purpose because achievement can be relative. Purpose is the driving force that pushes you to do what you want to do and the end result is the sense of self-actualisation. Truth said, the achievement is a bonus. I dream of a world where poverty and suffering will be at the minimum and that is the life of purpose I want to live, by impacting people in a positive way. I aspire to be the best mother I can be and to be a role model for young girls. My decisions are driven by this desire to effect change and create a positive impact. Leaders must have a great sense of purpose that drives them.
TRUSTING THE PROCESS
There is power in learning and my journey has been replete with people and learning tools that have helped me on my journey of becoming who I am today. I was, and still am, an avid reader who reads all kinds of books. I also love talking and interacting with experienced people who have been a great source of learning for me. I love spending time with my family and my kids have taught me the importance of being a leader through motherhood. I believe in respect and appreciation for others. This helps greatly in how people react to you and how receptive you are to learning from them both in your personal and professional life.
PREPARING THE FUTURE LEADERS
Those who came before us blazed a path so we could have footsteps to follow. One such person was my mum, the late Awa Niang. She was one of the smartest women I knew. She was an outstanding woman and a community leader who was very gifted in solving interpesonal issues and was a leader in her own right.
I also greatly admire the late Thomas Sankara and Patrice Lumumba for their visionary mindsets and bravery. They showed courage and stood by their principles. If they were still alive today, I believe the youth would be wiser and more intentional in their pursuit of succes. Nevertheless the mandate to be trailblazers for the next generation lies on us and it is up to us to do our part. That is what leadership is all about.
Isatu Niang is the Regional HR Manager at RTI International. She has an extensive background in HR generalist affairs, including experience in employee recruitment and retention, staff development, mediation, conflict resolution, benefits and compensation, HR policies development and legal compliance. She enjoys travelling and learning new things.