Lessons for emerging leaders.

Janet Kalulu Ngombalu

I love social media; I especially love my LinkedIn account. I love networking with colleagues and peers, who I have met and interacted with during my working years, on LinkedIn. However, every year, LinkedIn has this reminder that makes me cringe whenever I receive it. This reminder on my work anniversary has begun exuding some emotions and marvel at the same time. This year, 2021, when LinkedIn popped the same notification congratulating me for 11 years worked at my current workplace, I almost requested for a re-count, but this gave me an opportunity to look back at the lessons learnt along the way, how they impacted on my career and my professional growth.

The fact that I have stayed these many years with my employer intrigued me because I understand that from a recent research, the typical employee stays at a job for just over four years, according to a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020[1]. That same study found that these numbers apply to both men and women, and that older employees typically have longer tenure at a company than their younger counterparts. This last part made me think of all the possible reasons that made me stay on and why this was important for me as I consider leadership.

As a mentor and coach for emerging leaders, I would like to share some important lessons that I have learnt on resilience, growth, inspiration, and perseverance in a dynamic and changing career path.

  1. Personal Mission and Vision

The biggest deciding factor for success in any area of life is understanding the WHY. WHY we do what we do. What is it that makes us wake up every morning? Once we understand the WHY (purpose, cause, belief), then everything else falls in place (Sinek 2020).[2] The next important thing is when you join a team that shares in your WHY, then this becomes your guiding light. The reason to stay or leave must be bigger than the current situation. The journey over the 11 years has had its own share of ups and down. There were uncertain times when many people had to be let to go. We had several challenges during hard economic times, which drove us to the lowest pits. But one thing I learnt is that “your why, must be bigger than your how – Tom Deuschle in his book Building People, Building Dreams, says, those who know how are always going to be at the mercy of those who know why. The reason to stay or leave must be anchored on God who is in control, and moreover, He has good things in store: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.

As an emerging leader, one must understand, WHOSE WE ARE, WHOSE RACE IT IS, AND WHOSE KINGDOM WE SERVE. For in Habakkuk 2:2-3 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay”. When we understand these divine truths, we will always be anchored to the divine will of God.

  • Diversity of Roles and Responsibility.

During my 11 years tenure at my current workplace, I have changed roles and responsibilities close to four times. On average, I was in each office for a period of about three years. I joined the organization in a managerial position, but after a stint at that office for one year, I had to leave the organization, however, within the following year, I was back at the same organization, same job, but with a bigger mandate. I was working on a dynamic digital information system and had to do a revamp of the system at the time. During those times, we achieved a lot including expanding the system across different countries. We also expanded the roles to include corporate communication, and customer services, which further increased the responsibilities, meaning, that there were no routine activities in the position and I was constantly learning new things. Every day was unique and exciting, which made me stay.

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. This teaches us to continue renewing ourselves a fresh and discover the gifts God has put in us. These gifts will always come in handy as we diversify in areas and responsibilities that we find ourselves in.

  • Self-awareness and self-Motivation

I was always confident in my job, and had a great drive for high performance, which in turn made me a high achiever. I did everything in my way to ensure that my work, results, and achievements were beyond reproach. Once I achieved and succeeded at work, the self-confidence also grows in the same magnitude and in turn self- awareness and motivation grows and enlarges leading to better performance. This is one of the key drivers that made me stay, because I did not wait to be motivated, I motivated myself each day, knowing that I was not just serving myself, but serving God, who had orchestrated my ways, to have me at this position at this time. I never doubted the fact that my job and career was ordained by God.   

As a leader, I know that every career path requires specific credentials and skill sets. This gives a person the required knowledge and willpower to achieve their mandate and succeed in their roles. With both learned credentials and skilled learnt on the job, I was able to get a better grip on my confidence and drive which improves my self-esteem. My values, passions, and aspirations, and how well the standards fitted in my workplace environment were very critical.  With high self-awareness – my thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses, become assets, to drive me to exemplary performance and growth. I hold on to God’s guidance through 2 Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” 

  • Divine Kingdom Connections

One day I woke up to vicious attacks and condemnations from colleagues, who were hell bent to get me under the bus. A cohort from the Director’s had also weighed in on this, and there was a clout baying for my dismissal. I had the hardest period at this time at my work. During this time, my performance was at its peak, networks externally were high, all that mattered in the department was going okey. However, the situation was draining and traumatic. This was like a situation when David had killed Goliath bringing, victory to King Saul, but King Saul had been filled with rage and fury at the response David had received from the people. It was at this time, that spears came in rocking from every side leading David to go into exile. However, I discovered that it was at this worst time, that God was closest to me and came through for me. I survived the storm! I learnt that in such moments one has to retreat and go it where it matters most. Psalm 34:17-20  Says, When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. God will always, come through when we a guided by his will and his kingdom purpose.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

About the Author

Janet Kalulu Ngombalu, MA Sociology – Entrepreneurship (UON), BA Community Development (Daystar University), is a Catalyst Leader, Mentor and Trainer. Her Mission is to inspire people to live better and be more than they thought they could. Janet is committed to developing emerging leaders, through divinely ordained leadership precepts, based on the premise that “bend a tree while it’s still young”. Janet believes that the youth are the hope of the world and their future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. She loves to speak and write to inspire humanity so that they can live in love and abundance.

Facebook:       lulu K.Janet

Twitter:            JanetNgombalu

IG:                   lulus254.ke

Linkedin:         Janet Ngombalu

Blog:                kalulujanet.com

[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf

[2] https://www.scribd.com/read/381530988/Summary-of-Start-with-Why-How-Great-Leaders-Inspire-Everyone-to-Take-Action-by-Simon-Sinek

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