Secure Your Family’s Future Through Strong Leadership

Matthew was a graduate teacher. He taught in a private school in the city of Nairobi. It was his first year in employment and he was in a serious relationship with a beautiful young lady by the name of Mercy. Mercy was pursuing a degree at private university in the city and she was in her final year. Life was good.

Mercy and Matthew got married the year she graduated from the university. She landed a job soon after graduation, as a personal assistant to the owner of a private security firm. 

Working in such an institution taught her a lot. She learned about being professional, having an eye for detail, confidentiality, responding to issues promptly, and being a careful planner. 
Mercy maintained her own personal diary as well as an official diary for the office. She adhered to her schedules religiously, did evaluations at the end of each day and planned for the next day without fail. 
She maintained very accurate records concerning the security firm and her life was always very organized.

Cracks started to show in the marriage within months. Mercy believed in planning meticulously while Matthew often operated in crisis mode. He brought his younger brother who was in college to live with them, without discussing the issue with Mercy. 

Mercy just arrived from work one evening to find the young man in the house with his bags. When she raised the issue with her husband, it degenerated into a quarrel.

Matthew was also supporting several projects back home which included farming for his parents, financing his mother’s medical treatment and other responsibilities. 

He had a loan he was paying, a debt he incurred while doing some work on the family land including fencing the land and renovating his parents’ house.

His wife did not know about all these responsibilities while they were dating. She would wonder why he was struggling financially yet he earned much more than she did. 

A lot of that information came out during their frequent arguments about money. They were living from crisis to crisis, sometimes having their rented apartment locked for non-payment of rent or electricity supply disconnected because of late payment of bills.

Matthew and his wife never discussed any plans or budgeted for the family. Mercy would sometimes take emergency loans during times of crisis. 

The two gradually drifted apart and Mercy – who was expecting their first baby – started staying for days, even weeks, without saying a word to her husband. She totally refused to be intimate with him and the mood in the house became unbearable.

The couple’s bouncing baby girl was born just before they celebrated their second wedding anniversary. By that time, their relationship was as good as dead. 

The financial struggles escalated with the added expenditure from the hospital bill for the delivery, shopping for the baby, hiring a house help and the extra expenses that accompany a new addition into the family.

The quarrels got worse and Matthew would always silence Mercy telling her that she disrespected him instead of knowing her place in the home by being submissive. 

He would always disarm her by telling her that was rebellious and big headed. He accused her time and again of loving money and being proud.

Mercy and Matthew separated before celebrating 3 years of marriage. She moved out with their baby, leaving Matthew and his brother in the house. 

Matthew was by then a frustrated, angry man and he gradually became dependent on alcohol. It did not take long before he got in trouble at his place of work because of his drinking problem and he was eventually sacked.

Attributes of Good Leadership

Good leadership is critical for the success of any institution, marriage included. What is good leadership?

A good leader:

1. Provides direction and influences those he leads to carry out his wishes and recognize his guidance and advice. Good leadership begins with clear objectives and a sense of direction for the institution. 

A good leader constantly evaluates the situation; “We are at point A and need to move to point B.” How do we achieve that? What resources do we have at our disposal that can enable us to achieve our objectives? 
A good leader not only provides direction but takes the upper hand in solving problems, is courageous and has self-confidence. He leads even when the institution is passing through challenging times.

2. Draws on all the skills and expertise within the institution for overall success. He is a team player. Mercy possessed skills that could benefit the marriage yet they were not being tapped into.

3. Shows enthusiasm and gives assurance to those he leads. He is focused and knows where the institution is headed. 

This motivates the rest to work with him and support the goals he has set for the institution. He puts the goals of the institution ahead of his individual goals. He is not selfish.

4. Has a strong sense of justice and fairness. A person who is rejected and disrespected by those he leads is unlikely to succeed. The no. 1 reason why one gets rejected as a leader is a failure to safeguard the interests of the institution. 

A leader who is in the habit of thinking about his personal interests when making decisions on behalf of the institution is going to find himself rejected sooner or later.

To lead people effectively, one must understand those he leads; their opinions, what is important to them, their value systems, problems, etc. 

Value systems are instilled on someone from a very young age and if you impose your value system on someone else (even a spouse), you are likely to fail. 
Changing someone’s value systems takes time, effort and cooperation of that person. Leadership by dictatorship does not work long term.

A good leader considers the situation of those he leads and puts himself in their shoes. He frequently asks; ‘If I were in his/her shoes, would I like to carry out orders if they were given to me in that way? How would I feel about those orders?’

How could Matthew have built a strong foundation for his family and secured their future?

i. Teamwork. He could have taken his wife as his partner in life, involved her in planning, budgeting and decision making. If the two had worked together as one team, they could have sought solutions to the challenges they were facing, such as the needs of Matthew’s side of the family. 

Matthew had responsibilities outside the immediate family and that is not anyone’s fault. Those responsibilities needed to be factored in and planned for, which can only happen in an atmosphere of openness and trust. 
When a couple manages their home as a team, they achieve much more than when one partner struggles with his or her own problems all alone.

ii. Nurturing his leadership qualities and accepting his wife’s support when possible, rather than claiming to be the leader when he could not handle the responsibility. 

In a healthy relationship, no one is permanently in the leadership position since the leader-follower roles keep on interchanging depending on the activity. 
In certain activities – such as handling the day to day decisions in the home – the wife will be in the leadership role while in other activities – such as investing for the family – the husband is likely to find himself taking the leadership role.

Leaders are not born; they are developed. Leadership is nurtured; it takes deliberate effort to develop leadership qualities. A man is a natural leader in the family but leadership qualities take time and effort to develop.

In traditional society, training in leadership took place from a very young age and usually culminated in the rite of passage to manhood. 

That system of doing things has been lost over the years and many men are growing up without any nurturing to become leaders while others even lack male role models in their lives.

All is not lost. With awareness, even a man who was not trained in leadership as he was growing up can make deliberate effort to invest in himself and develop the attributes of a leader. 

We are living in the age of information and anything we need to learn is achievable. One can invest in whatever skills one desires. It does take sacrifice to invest in oneself but the rewards are worth it.

This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, life coach, personal development mentor, freelancer and blogger.

Financial Independence Africa

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