LEADERSHIP AWARENESS SESSION
With the view of helping leaders/members to bring new approaches to the mission of the movement, ICMICA Africa plans to organize a series of online trainings for its leaders and members.
The formation started with a leadership awareness session which took place on zoom on 22nd and 29th May 2022.
The objectives of the awareness session include:
• In-depth understanding of characteristics of an effective leader
• A better understanding of challenges affecting our leadership role within the national movements
The francophone training session took place on 22dnd May and had the participation of 20 people from Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Gabon, Togo, Burundi, Canada, and Madagascar. The Anglophone session which was done a week later (29th May) had the participation of 13 people from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia (find the list of participants here).
The training was facilitated by Jean Lokenga from DR Congo who is based in Nairobi Kenya. He is a former Pan African Coordinator of IMCS and a former ICMICA Vice President for Africa. He is now the Adjoint Representative of UNICEF Kenya.
The facilitator started the session by giving participants the difference between Leadership and management. After that, he took participants to the different aspects of leadership. The session was more of an interaction (a dialogue) than a lecture.
To be a leader, what are the basic requirements?
- One has to be present (to dedicate time and to be committed to the work of the organization/movement),
- One has to be visible and be known by the members,
- One has to have a vision that is shared by all members/followers and have a sense of direction and be able to inspire followers to follow,
- One has to have the trust of the followers,
- One has to have spirit of service,
- One has to have coaching skills: to show examples and the way to followers.
When leaders have a vision that is different from that of the organization, what will happen?
Participants shared that when the vision of the leaders is different from the organization, the leaders will be disappointed, then quit or ghost (many cases in Pax Romana) or they will just fulfill their personal interests and leave. This is mostly the reason why many organizations stumble.
To overcome this, participants recommend that leaders understand the vision and mission of the organization well before entering into any leadership position.
If the organization is already facing a challenge, participants advised that more trainings and sessions be organized to educate leaders/members on the vision and mission of the organization.
What are the required skills for a leader?
Leaders need to have active listening skills to be able to understand the concerns of their followers. They need to seek regular feedback and ask questions from them.
However, listening requires time. That means leaders need to set time aside to listen to their followers/members.
Leaders should always be aware that they are not eternal. They need to be able to prepare their replacements. This requires coaching skills.
High sense of responsibility and accomplishing tasks:
It was mentioned that an effective leader should deliver on what is expected of him/her by the organization and followers. The leader is expected to be accountable to the organization and to those whom he/she serves: accountability is the obligation imposed on leaders to perform very well what is expected of him/her (Mc Grath & Whitty, 2018). As a leader, one should be mindful of the legacy one would lead when one leaves office.
NB: Leaders need to have both technical skills and other aptitudes (communications, mobilization, conflict management, negotiations, etc.). Listening to others imposes on leaders the need to be humble, and cultivate emotional intelligence (compassion and empathy towards others).
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE IN OUR MOVEMENT?
The second part of the session was dedicated to sharing of the challenges members face within Pax Romana. Here are a few challenges that participants mentioned during the training:
- Challenge of transitioning
The transition between one team to another has been a challenge of the movement over the years. Now, another challenge is coming in terms of the transition from IMCS to ICMICA. Participants insisted that Mentorship is very important where young professionals are monitored by senior professionals. Young people need to see by example what their elders are doing.
- Lack of ambassadors to support and guide the students’ movement (IMCS)
IMCS Alumni need to be ambassadors when they finish their time as students. They need to continue supporting the students.
- Lack of support from Church leaders
It was mentioned that many movements are suffering because they do not receive support from the Church leaders. On this, participants encouraged the leaders to approach the Church in their respective countries and talk about their concerns.
- Issue of documentation
There is an issue with documentation within our movements. Some successful stories and challenges over the years have not been well documented. Good documentation is important as it will help the new teams/members know what has been happening in the movement.
- Challenge of information sharing
Connected to the issue of documentation, some countries are doing well in terms of membership and activities, but they are not sharing. Participants recommended that regular sessions among the national movements be organized to enable movements share experiences and good practices.
- The challenge of alternance of leadership
Participants observed that it has become a practice within our movement that leaders do not leave the position, especially for the Professional movement. They stay in power for many years. Some even reach 10 years. This discourages members a lot, as with this practice the movement appears to be an individual property.
It was advised that members follow the statute of the movement keenly and refuse any malpractice within the movement.
- Economic challenge
Participants shared that the increasing financial difficulty in their countries is affecting the work of the movement. Those who are not able financially are left behind in some online activities like training, meeting, assembly, etc. Members could no longer make any financial contribution like cotisation, etc.
It was advised that each movement be creative and find solutions for the economic problem. One approach could be to register the movement (if the local conference allows) to have a legal document and to source funds for the activities externally (eg. from funding agencies) to support the mission. At least each movement should have a certificate of registration and an official bank account.
Another possibility would be to partner with other organizations that share the same mission.
Effective leadership within Pax Romana and in any other organization should be cultivated. Effective leadership does not come naturally because someone has been elected to lead others.
Servant leadership with its quality is what is preferred, in particular for voluntary movements like Pax Romana. In a given situation, one can adjust the leadership style, provided that the interest of the team/organization remains paramount.
Finding ways to listen to others and seeking feedback on how one leads an organization / a team is critical for the effectiveness of leadership.