June 21, 2018   by

One of the most important decisions that members of any investment group will have to make is the decision regarding the type of their leaders. It doesn’t matter how poetic the group manifesto is, how high they have set their ambitions, or even how well articulated the group bylaws are. Without proper leadership, all those will remain to be empty wishes on paper. It takes a good leader to breathe life into those ambitions, to inspire the members to do much more than they thought is possible, and to instill discipline and good culture in the group, without which the group will remain on crutches.

Why is leadership so important?

Leadership is the heartbeat of society. Leaders have the responsibility of uniting people in pursuit of a common goal and providing direction in times of crisis. Every social setup, whether formal or informal has leaders, who may be in their positions b virtue of being chosen or by default. Failure to recognize such roles ultimately leads to a broken society.

A leader may be born, or made. Some of us are naturally endowed with leadership traits and a desire to guide people, while others become leaders by training. Others are made to assume leadership by circumstance and learn the trade by practice.

Despite how a leader came to be, it lies squarely on his shoulders to empower his followers toward the actualization of their set goals.

There is no guidebook to leadership

How a leader executes his duties is highly situation-dependent, as different setups require different approaches depending on the prevailing challenges. There are no general ‘leadership hacks’. This means that a leader must be a highly adaptable person, able to apply his acquired knowledge and skill to the situation at hand in a creative way. An attempt to copy-paste leadership strategies across different spectra of circumstances could be highly devastating.

Leadership Styles.

There are three broad categories of leadership styles. Let’s look at them briefly.

The first is the democratic style, which is most commonly used around the world. A concept that began in ancient Greece, it is characterized by the followers having the freedom to participate in the leadership process by contributing their opinions and ideas.

The second style is laissez-faire leadership. The leader assumes an ‘absent’ position and gives his followers the space to make decisions on their own. It is mostly applicable in places where people are highly skilled in what they do especially in technical jobs.

Lastly is the authoritarian style of leadership. This is when the leader is totally supreme over his subjects and his word is final.

Choosing a Leader for your group.

As stated before, leadership is highly situation-dependent. The kind of leadership your group needs will be dictated by the challenges the group is facing and the general position that the group is in. These factors must be looked at carefully before choosing leaders. However, there are certain basic qualities that every successful leader needs to possess.

Qualities to look for in an ideal leader.

  1. Character. I believe that this is the enduring characteristic of any successful leader. It matters so much because, take it or leave it, people will always seek to follow the example of their leader, albeit unconsciously. A leader must be honest and a person of integrity, qualities which are quite rare in our country today. Do not choose as a chairperson someone who will swindle your Chama’s hard-earned investments simply because he/she is a smooth talker and charming.
  2. Gets stuff done. A leader must be someone who delivers results on time and as expected. Do not give a lazy fellow a position to lead you because that will be a death blow to your group. He/she must be self-driven and motivated, able to set the tone for the group members to follow.
  3. Passionate and caring. Leaders must show concern to members. They should not just be the guys ‘up there’ but must come to the level of the members and make them feel that they belong. This concern must be genuine and well-intended.
  4. Charisma*.This quality is marked with an asterisk because it must be approached carefully. While charisma and a strong personality are not basic qualities of a leader, they must not be ignored either. Your group needs someone who can speak on behalf of it and represent it well in various forums, someone to close deals on your behalf and be the image of the group out there. A timid person may not be able to do that. An outgoing person will. Someone who possesses the social and interpersonal skills to act as a spokesperson and ‘ambassador’ of the group. That is why I started by stating that some people are born leaders because most of these qualities are inborn. They can however be learned and acquired by practice.

“A leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way”.


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