Are you a Leader?

Created on 2023-06-19 08:21

Published on 2023-06-19 09:25

A few years ago while on a zoom interview with OLDN TV, I was asked if I considered myself as a leader. The interesting thing at that point was, I was doing what I was doing because it was fun, I was learning and getting others from across the continent to learn . I honestly had no answer to this question my response was something like this, "I do not know if I am a Leader, I guess a Leader is considered a leader by their followers".

I have never considered myself a leader, I guess leaders who aren't appointed by some authority rarely consider themselves leaders, but behave and act like Leaders.

Over time, this question that the interviewer asked in that zoom interview keeps popping in my thoughts, Am I a leader?. This question would lead us to ask a few other questions to be able to answer the main question. A simple yes or no answer would not do Justice to the weight of the question. Let me ask you, Are you a leader?

Lets ask ourselves first, who is a leader, what do they do, how do they behave, what competencies do they have? What would we need to see in a person to say that, yes , that is a leader. If we were to analyze leaders what would we find?

There is a grave tendency to interchangeably refer to good managers as leaders where as the two words Manager and Leader that is, don't have the same meaning. The common thing about the two words is the People element, both leaders and Managers have People , these people may either report to them, take instructions or orders from them or simply the People may follow them and do what is asked of them. A good manager may also have the competencies required to lead and a Leader may also have the competencies required to Manage People .The desirable situation in the workplace is to have both Managerial and leadership skills.

The competencies required of a leader certainly aren't the same as those of a manager. In our many years of learning, we have been taught of leaders and their behavior that made them to be considered Leaders. Their behavior's , their way of doing things, their mindsets and attitudes have been synthesized and we know can teach these competencies with the aim of creating leaders.

Leaders can be found everywhere, unfortunately in our times we focus on Leaders at the workplace and elected leaders. Elected leaders are a different breed of leadership that this article will not get into since there usually is a popularity element even if the core leadership competencies lack. This mean a elected Leader can lack the competencies of Leadership and due to their popularity still get to an elected Leadership role. The focus of this article is on unelected leadership.

There is currently a new breed in leadership, they call them though Leaders . Thought leaders may be leaders in

Declarative knowledge - They may be very knowledgeable in a domain area however they have no hands on experience on the knowledge domain.

Procedural Knowledge These ones are knowledgeable in the domain area and are also experienced in the domain area.

Over time and accelerated by Covid anyone can gather an audience and speak to them on any domain knowledge area. Over the last three years, the number of webinar sessions for various professionals has exploded. We have had more Zoom webinar sessions over the last Three years, than the Ten years before Covid 19 Pandemic.

From these webinars, thought Leaders have emerged by the dozen, some with Declarative knowledge and others procedural knowledge. The big question however would be have these thought leaders enabled their listeners, Learners and followers to experience a change in their view of the world?

The key thing about Leadership is the ability to change the way the followers think about the World, to change their mindsets and their attitude towards various matters regards the world. A good leader and a good writer have a lot in common.

Many times , People develop their leadership skills without even knowing they are doing that, these people engage in self directed learning, and are driven by a need to improve something for their own benefit. As they do so, they impact others who end up following them, listening to them, learning from them and creating a multiple effect of generating new Leaders.

Leadership is not about knowing the various models of leadership, application of the various leadership styles. Leaders use these tools at times even without knowledge of their existence. Knowledge of the Leadership models, traits ,behaviors leadership styles unfortunately does not make you a Leader, it is however helpful in setting you up in the path to Leadership at a declarative knowledge level. Actually rolling up your sleeves and doing the work will gain you Procedural knowledge into leadership.

iPerformance Africa has designed and developed a two weeks Leadership and management program for newly appointed managers. This program utilizes the sound instruction strategies, is designed for skills transfer and promises the learner competencies in Leadership and management post the program. The course imparts skills the learner can use back at the workplace.

To develop Leaders, you need a program that is designed to actually do that , not inform, not make knowledgeable , but to transfer leadership and management competencies to the learners.

Martin Wanjohi

Martin Wanjohi is the Head of Learning at iPerformance Africa. Martin is a seasoned Master instruction designer and devotes his time in designing and delivering performance based learning using various instruction strategies . iPerformance Africa core focus is consulting and learning in the areas of Strategy formulation and execution, Instruction Design, Performance Improvement and Leadership and Management development programs. He can be reached on email:

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