I was about eighteen years old when I first started working and receiving a paycheck. Which means that I’ve had quite a few years of working for other people. Some of those people were incredible bosses. Some of them were MOST DEFINITELY NOT incredible bosses. But the experience of it all created a deep curiosity inside of me around the concept of leadership.
Throughout this time, I’ve had jobs in the media industry, accounts, procurement, social work and done some freelance work in the fine arts, hospitality, information technology…. And regardless of how different any of these paths may have been, the common denominator throughout–be it good or bad–was leadership. Even while trying to build BLACK, NO SUGAR, I may be my own boss, but I’ve had more seasoned leaders to guide me along the way – hi Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire… Leah Eryenyu III… Rebecca Rwakabukoza
And here’s the conclusion I’ve drawn from witnessing countless workplaces in action…
Your leaders will make you or break you.
They will make or break your businesses.
They will make or break your teams.
They will make or break your goals.
And here’s why: because all of these things, first and foremost, are made up of PEOPLE.
Not profits. Not targets. Not shares.
And if people aren’t treated like people, then bad things start to happen.
Experience has shown me two dominant scenarios when it comes to running the show; there are those that consider it their right as the boss and there are those that consider it their privilege as the leader. One focuses on what they can get their teams to do and the other focuses on how they can make their teams feel.
Of course, in any business setting, productivity and efficiency matter…but in all of my time working in teams, I can confidently say the following: when leaders care about how their teams feel, those teams will naturally go above and beyond to show you what they can do.
Leaders set their teams up to succeed knowing that the rising tide lifts all boats.
Bosses set themselves up to succeed believing that the ocean isn’t big enough for all of us.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard this line in a random video I watched online..
“The person you report to, your direct supervisor, is more important to your health than your family doctor…”
This is why I’m so passionate about what it means to be a leader; because 90% of all doctor visits are linked back to stress. And because the majority of that stress is caused in the workplace. And because apparently, most heart attacks happen on a Monday. And because I’ve witnessed, time and time again, people use their position as a sword to be wielded instead of a tool to serve others.
Because waking up every day to hold a piece of another person’s life in your hands, be it their job or their health or their heart, is a responsibility…not an advantage.
Because the best leaders I’ve ever been blessed to work with are also the ones that weren’t afraid to say “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong”, “Show me how” and “I hope to grow alongside you.”
To all of the leaders in my life that truly understand this E-star Kalenzi, Binyamin Rukwengye, Karungi Ka Kagaadju, King Maria Alesi, Maurice Mugisha, Zeezeeb Bant, Linda Kibombo, Jack Daniel Kalinaki, Mareike Le Pelley, my new boss Rolf Paasch (this man shooketh me…)… thank you from the bottom of my heart. While your guidance and example has shaped me in more ways than I will ever know, your humility and grace will shape the world in more ways than you will ever know.