Above: Track Academy founder Connie Henry (centre) with the charity’s trustees. From left, Amechi Okafor, Steve McKoy, Michael Adams, chair Claudia Wilmot and Patrik Ewe.
Thoughts from the team for future leaders
It’s imperative that you readjust your timescale to the reality of the mountain you are trying to climb. Too often, we are swept away with the fantasy world of TV and film, where in an hour and a half a person has an idea, starts the journey, it gets a bit tough and then all of a sudden they are a success. End of story.
To use a Jamaican saying “nuttin na go so” – meaning nothing goes like that. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Somewhere, someone has been putting in the hours, feeling stress, disappointment, despair and anger; this all becomes fuel for determination and that internal drive for success.
It is that internal drive that will set you apart from the others. It will make you feel isolated and alone but it cannot be ignored. It must be managed and kept on the right trajectory by being sure you have realistic timescales. You may find that the road is longer than you think.
It was Nelson Mandela who said that the best leaders don’t lead from the front, they lead from behind. This means you have to listen to the people you’re trying to lead, take on board their comments, their ideas.
You have to point them in the right direction, make them feel part of the process, make them feel it was their idea. They then lead themselves and you’re there behind them, just guiding them along.
I believe leaders are listeners. You should listen to yourself and tap into your own intuition of what you see and feel. You should also listen to those around you, because people like to be listened to. You want people to believe you and trust in you, and to want to be led by you.
Secondly, leaders are readers. You can always be better, and improve and expand upon your knowledge. Become a reader, become better, always look for ways and means to improve your leadership skills.
- Don’t be a good listener, be a great one. Listening puts you in the very best position to be heard when you speak. It means that you’ve given time to the situation or circumstance you find yourself in. So when your time comes to lead, you are doing so from an informed place.
- Be approachable. Good leadership is not about grandstanding. It’s about keeping your door open and having an open mind. If those that you’re leading fear you, that’s not leading; it’s dictating.
- Great leaders have an ability to stand still and evaluate situations rather than responding emotionally. Leaders can usually identify that place that is the calm in the middle of the storm. By doing so, they eventually bring everyone with them and the storm eventually passes, because you’ve led everyone to a place of calm where things can be resolved.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African proverb
I love this for leadership because a team is key to significant success, to achieving something you never could alone. For me, leaders get the most out of a team by being supportive and open-minded. They know that to get the most out of a team there must be empathy, support, trust and challenge.
Leaders should understand how different people work, their needs and motivations. They should be humble enough to know others may know more than them, can bring different skills, expertise and experience. Leaders inspire the best in people and make sure everyone works well together. They help the team achieve more than the individuals would ever achieve alone.