Leadership is vital for the success of any business enterprise. Every day, organizations worldwide, not just in Africa, talk about their leaders and leadership, yet, surprisingly, these words are hard to define.

According to Forbes, “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes others’ efforts towards the achievement of a goal.” From this definition, you will see that the position of a leader is the place of influence. As a leader, you are expected to impact those who follow you in positive ways.

John Maxwell, a renowned American writer, corroborates this notion as he defines leadership as “Influence, no more no less.” However, being a leader of impact is not as easy as it sounds. The process can sometimes be a complex one, especially if you are a leader in Africa. More so, the journey comes with a certain amount of stress and discomfort that you must be ready to manage.

Are you a professional or leader in an organization and it seems like you are struggling with your employees, I am here to help. In this article, you will see how you can discover your leadership impact. You will also find out the possible ways to manage the stress that comes with leadership and how you can thrive with change, especially in an African organization.

Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes others’ efforts towards the achievement of a goal

DISCOVER YOUR LEADERSHIP IMPACT

A Kenyan proverb says, “When a leader limps, the people limp too.” In Uganda, a similar proverb says, “When a leader changes mood, followers change the place of their abode.” All these sayings point in one direction; the position of leadership is a very sensitive one. The idea goes beyond roles and titles. Instead, the concept of leadership rests on two dynamics which are impact and responsibility. As a leader, even the tiniest of your decisions go a long way in the lives of your followers. That is why you must be careful about what you do with your office. Even the tiniest things you do, have considerable effects and impacts on the lives of other people. Therefore, you must take responsibility to ensure that you positively impact those who follow you in your organization.

IMPACTFUL LEADERSHIP HAS THREE CRITICAL COMPONENTS, AND THEY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

  1. Understanding yourself:To be an impactful leader, you must understand yourself. You can only lead people when you have understood who you are and your style of leadership. You must ask yourself these questions; “what is your preferred styles of leadership?” Are you a dictator, are you a coach, are you an affiliate leader, or are you a democratic leader? By understanding your leadership style, you will understand your strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage.

    Understanding yourself also involves your values and ideas that resonate around your leadership style. Impactful leaders are usually those with original beliefs, values and ethics.

    Finally, it would be best if you defined your purpose. When people know you have a vision and purpose, it is easier to influence them and make impacts.

  2. Proper Mindset:To be impactful as a leader, you need to work with the right mindset. First, you must understand that you are a leader, and that is not because of your role in the organization or your title. Instead, you are a leader because of what you do. Harold Green once said. “Leadership is not so much words as in attitude and in actions.” The Ugandans will also say, “Much talk does not make one a leader.” Therefore, you need to adopt the right attitude. This is important because having a positive mindset drives you to positive actions and outcomes and makes you impactful. A South African proverb says, “Good behavior starts from the top.” The more you bring yourself to this consciousness, the more likely it is for you to behave better as a leader. With that, you can have the impacts that you want to see as a leader. Without this constant consciousness and positive leadership mindset, you will likely remain a victim, always complaining about your issues.

    Creating a positive mindset helps you to address issues in your behaviour. For instance, having a positive mindset that anything is possible can help you adjust your lateness issues. However, when you fix your actions without adjusting your mindset, you only get to see temporary changes in your behaviour that you cannot sustain. With time you will see yourself revert to the destructive actions of the past.

EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS AS A LEADER

Impactful leadership does not come easy, and every influential leader, at some point, has to deal with the stress that comes with it. Even if you have found the hack to lead your business successfully, if you fail to take good care of yourself, you will become stressed out.

Unfortunately, according to Business Insider, high-stress levels can lead to lowered productivity and even reduce your impacts as a leader. So, with that in mind, how can you protect yourself from stress as a leader?

  1. Understand your body: you are the only person who knows yourself best. To effectively manage stress as a leader, you need to understand your body. What are your stress factors? How does your body respond to stress? By understanding these fundamental questions, you will avoid the stressors and take breaks whenever you notice your stress levels are getting higher.
  2. Make yourself a priority: it is common to see leaders put everyone ahead of themselves to achieve the goals of their organization. While that is good, you must understand that you are a leader first because you are alive. An African proverb says, “Even the fiercest leader is overcome by sleep.” Therefore, the place of personal care should be a priority in most things you do. Take time to sleep well, eat healthily, exercise and see your doctor whenever you need it. Also, understand that you can’t please everyone so, make it a duty to say no when faced with challenges that put your health at risk.
  3. Delegate tasks: As a leader, sometimes the quest for quality makes you want to do everything yourself. Also, especially in startups, you find the CEO taking up as many responsibilities as possible to save cost and make up for short staffing. When you do this as a leader, you tend to reduce your efficiency. Also, you are undermining the intelligence of your staff and denying them the chance to grow. As the Nigerian proverb, “It is the wisdom of others that makes the King wise”, you must learn to trust the wisdom of your team. Instead of doing things yourself, develop people who can handle the tasks and delegate the jobs to them. This will give you more time to focus on better things. Your staff would also feel involved when you entrust them with tasks.
  4. Pick up a hobby: One of the reasons leaders find themselves stressed is because they do not know how to have fun. Do not be that kind of leader. Develop a hobby, something you love doing that can you can do to relieve you of stress. It could be a sporting activity, reading, dancing, hiking or anything at all.
  5. Know when you need to walk away: this might be painful, especially if you are a perfectionist, but then it’s necessary for you and your organisations. As a leader, you must make correct judgements and correctly recognise dead ends when you see them. This will help you not to waste resources in needless situations.Empowering others:

    You can not fully discover your leadership impact until you have empowered your team members to be leaders. Tony Elumelu, the founder and chairman of the United Bank of Africa, once said,“People management is key. Learn how to motivate your people. A true leader is one who remains committed to a higher purpose than most others do not yet see. I have studied great people, and one common thing I found among them is Legacy. Let us remind ourselves of the power of individuals and what potent capacities and opportunities lie in this.”

    To empower people, you must match your style of leadership with the preference of your people. A Ugandan proverb says, “No one likes a strict leader. That doesn’t mean you should condone bad behaviour. Instead, it means you must look inwards and seek out the dark sides of your leadership style and make needed adjustments according to your team’s needs. Your approach should be vison and value-based, meaning; you must lead by example. If necessary, adjust your course, but that should be a decision that comes from your values and not based on your beliefs.

THRIVE AS A LEADER IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

Every organisation faces change every once in a while. Change, like the say, is the only constant thing in life. As a leader, you have two options in these periods of change. Most leaders leave their followers to explore the period on their own, hoping that it passes away. The period will expire, but you can take advantage of the change to motivate your people and make them better prepared for future changes.

At the early stages of change, your followers would have concerns. Most of them will want to understand the difference and what it means for them. The mistake you can make as a leader is to ignore these concerns. In your best interest and that of your organisation, you should share all the information you can with your people.

Information sharing is critical at this stage because people tend to sense change ahead of time. If you do not take the initiative and educate your people, you risk allowing them to make assumptions and spreading rumours on their own. These rumours will spread like wildfire and might even cause potential problems in the future.

The road to impactful leadership, effective stress management and thriving with change is not an easy one. However, it would be lot easier if you had a professional coach teach you how you can do these things on a personal basis. I will put you through all you need to become the leader of your dream starting from the very basics. Click here to find out more about how my personalised training and coaching classes can help you become a better leader.

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