It’s impossible to respect, value and admire great leadership if you can’t identify what makes a leader great. This is an age old question that people have sought to answer, and when we introduce women to this mix, the dynamics become even more complex. We sought the opinion of one of our own- the ever graceful, beautiful and composed Operations Manager on her thoughts about leadership and in particular women in leadership.
Nyawira Mwangi, a wife and mother to two handsome boys believes that a leader is one who comes up with a dream, new ideas then inspires, sets pace, brings change and will always have followers, while a manager takes the ideas of leaders, actualizes them, through planning and organizing thus translating the ideas into reality and will always have workers. In her opinion one can be both a leader and a manager depending on the situation or circumstance; all one needs to do is put on the right hat.
According to her ‘a leader should have integrity, empathy, be truthful, compassionate, God fearing, a team player and a good listener‘. She confidently admits she possesses these and many others attributes. She excitedly narrates how she rose to management level in the company. ‘My journey began back in 2009 when I re-joined Galana under the then Exports manager who allowed me to take up challenges and find solutions on my own as well as with his help. I then moved to the Operations Department. I worked under two operations managers before being promoted to my current position in 2015’.
Her rise to management is a clear indication that although we live in a male dominated society, women are now given equal opportunities to men. That just like the men, women need to keep learning, keep pushing, and keep going if they ever want to be recognized and succeed. Nyawira’s role model is Michelle Obama, the former FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States). She greatly admires Michelle because of her composed nature; she’s never out of control; she’s strong, courageous and has a great sense of fashion & style. I could tell why she admires Michelle Obama; it is simply because the two have so much in common.
When asked about her thoughts concerning the first lady of Machakos County, flaunting her body in a bikini on social media, she exclaims ‘That’s simply unacceptable!’ Her view is that influential women like Lilian Mutua should be able to keep their private life private and maintain some level of decency and class.
Nyawira’s joy, satisfaction and motivation is to see people change and grow as a result of being mentored by herself and also creating positive change in the society. By practicing a participative leadership style, she encourages her team to keep learning and advancing their knowledge. For instance she allows them to take up more responsibilities than what they have been assigned so that they are able to handle different tasks. This is evident since many people from her department have taken up new roles in other areas of the organization, and currently one of her direct reportees is pursuing her second Masters degree.
All work with no play makes Nyawira a dull leader and that is why in her free time she enjoys travelling, swimming, hosting people at her house, and spending time with family. ‘Do you have any embarrassing moments?’ I asked with a grin. She shakes her head and laughs. My guess is that they are too embarrassing to share. In another world, she would love to be a giraffe simply because to her a giraffe, like Michelle Obama may not be the strongest animal as the lion but its height and grace ensures that it stands out from the rest. It is then able it to see farther, see higher and higher and feed on the best food from top branches. Secondly a giraffe is not so pushy, not too fast but remains steady all through; she says that we should learn from this and always remain steady, focused, stand out and stand tall to achieve our goals.
The interview could not end without her giving a piece of advice to young aspiring leaders. She had this to say to them,’ Put God first, keep steady, keep sharpening your skills, keep reading and keep working hard. Whatever circumstances you face, keep going and stay focused.’