Leadership, Society

Emotional Intelligence makes Leaders Effective by Eunice Musiime

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As a student of leadership, I have become intentional about observing the difference between strong and weak leaders for my own learning and self improvement. One quality, I have come to admire, seek, covet, envy in great leaders, is Emotional Intelligence.

For years, educators, human resource professionals, corporate trainers, recruiters, managers and others have known what sets apart the average performers from the stars. It isn’t technical skills – those are easy to learn, and it’s easy to determine if someone has them or not. It isn’t necessarily intelligence, either. It is something else, something that you knew it if you saw it, but which was difficult to clearly define. It was called ‘people skills’ and now more recently, emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, who defined it this way:

From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.

The five components of emotional intelligence that allow individuals to recognize, connect with, and learn from their own and other people’s mental states are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
  • Empathy for others
  • Social skills, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks

Have you come across adults who find it difficult to say I am sorry? Or find it difficult to acknowledge their role in a not so good situation. Or unwilling to discuss possible ways that the situation could be handled differently or adults who throw a tantrum if things don’t proceed the way they envisaged? We could all benefit improving our intrapersonal and inter personal skills.

To begin with, how self-aware are you? Self-awareness is about achieving a realistic view of one’s strengths and weaknesses and of how those strengths and weaknesses compare to others. Not an easy process if you ask me but one that harvests great benefits if properly employed.

Real self awareness will not happen, unless one gets accurate feedback from either respected friends or a 360-degree process of assessment. A 360 degree assessment or personality tests are great tool to help us uncover EQ-related blind spots, not least because other people are generally too polite to give us negative feedback.

Equally key is how self-aware of others’ emotions that helps a leader to strengthen their emotional intelligence.  Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference. A Leader who is in tune with the team is likely to succeed.

Finally, how a leader navigates and builds strong social networks determines how better informed, more creative, more efficient than those with limited social networks.  By having a trusted set of advisors and advocates, effective networkers make better decisions faster and are more likely to have support for their ideas and plans. Relationships will not just happen, it requires one to invest time, plan activities and anticipate likely spaces to make great connections.

In sum, technical skills and intelligence are great, the missing link is a leader’s emotional intelligence to propel one to greater heights. The next time, one is tempted to throw a tantrum, it would serve better to keep calm.

 

 

 

 

Development, Society, Uncategorized

How to raise feminist sons

Boys washing plates

Many of us must have watched this commercial that seeks to promote a new women’ television station and are wondering how come the regulator has not recalled it nor has there been massive public outcry.  Yet it is sending the wrong message to our children on gender stereotypes. It actually exemplifies the pervasiveness of misogyny in our society. It goes “who does all the chores?” and the answer “girls” who takes selfies and the answer “girls” and on and on it goes.  When little girls and boys watch this absurd commercial, they don’t just accept this as the norm but it shapes their long term perspective. This is how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed on from generation to generation.

In fact my sons have already started to refer to this advert to challenge some of my efforts to reject gender stereotypes. The generation of kids we are raising need feminist men and women more than ever. And not just “oh, men and women are equal” but feminist men who will stand to men who aren’t and say “No, that is not ok”

In previous engagements, many feminists have shared that it is critical for us to begin early to create gender awareness. Between the age of three and five the consciousness of gender transforms into solidified opinions informed by the culture around children. What they learn about gender at this young age will shape their world view. For example, Dr. Maggie Kigozi who has broken many ceilings, being among the first woman in male dominated sectors, at recent Women in Leadership platform asked why girls are given dolls to play with while boys are provided with science gadgets to stimulate their minds and then we continue to decry the dominance of men in STEM.

As mothers it is also important to lead by example and show our sons that women are just as strong, smart, just as capable. We have to share stories of amazing things that women have done historically and doing now. The other critical thing is to ensure that when they say things that uphold oppressive social norms is to immediately correct him. I know kids pick up a lot of stuff at school but we can counter it. When my sons go to school and their friends’ call girls names, I want them to be able to say “Man that is not cool.” On the other hand I will also let my sons know that it is okay to cry and help them redefine strength if his instinct is to clench his fist.

We also need to de-emphasize labor division in the home and the whole stereotype that girls cook and do dishes while boys sit and watch television or help daddy wash the car must be tackled head on. There is no women’s work. There is no mans work. There is work and we are a team. Every member is valuable.

There is definitely no silver bullet as to how to raise sons to respect women, but instilling the value of gender equality from birth means that our sons will be better equipped to operate in a world where women are increasingly and rightfully in positions of power. I can only hope that by planting seeds which grow into the movement that will.

Eunice Musiime

 

Development, Society, Uncategorized, Women Rights

How Can Women Lead Better?

On leadership

As a women’s rights activist, my heart warms up when I meet, read and hear about women leaders that are transforming people’s lives and society. I get delighted to learn more about their leadership journey, triumphant stories and struggles. In addition, I most importantly want to learn the lessons to avoid the pit falls they have encountered.

Often, what we see and hear is the success story. We hardly get to hear the story behind the story. The behind story includes overcoming marginalization, stereotyping, rejections, betrayals, the days she felt like giving up, the burn out, depression and the traumatic experiences amongst others.

A research conducted by Akina Mama wa Afrika with support from Hivos East Africa revealed that one of the reasons women shy away from taking up positions of leadership is that it confers added responsibilities. Yet, it is in these arenas that women can influence the reversal of their prevailing predicaments.

Women need to know that taking on added responsibilities as a leader obviously comes at a cost. These include: time away from family and friends, long hours at work, limited time for self-care and personal development, etc.

It is a fact that success does not come easy.Thus, as women we need to find ways of mitigating the negative costs if we are to sustain the gains of getting more women in power and decision-making positions.

What support mechanisms are we putting in place to enable women leaders perform optimally? How are we transforming our systems and structures to address the structural barriers? Are we creating spaces for reflection and learning for women in leadership to share experiences or peer-to-peer reviews? How are we creating spaces for mentorship and coaching to groom new leaders? Are we addressing the right attitudes needed by women in taking up critical leadership positions?

The support system need to include women role models for others to emulate. These role models need to write their stories to inspire the others into leadership. It should not only stop at this but to have empowerment drives for every woman from the lowest to the highest strata of authority. The intentionalityit is, the better the women will lead.

This year 2017, Akina Mama wa Afrika is celebrating 20 years of feminist and transformational leadership development through its African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) that has thus far graduated over 4,000 African women. Our alumni have since taken up various positions of leadership and are effectively influencing the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights on the African continent.

As we push towards gender parity in leadership, we need a renewed conversation on how we can support women to lead better, effect change in their own lives and communities and effectively participate in leadership and decision-making.

-Eunice Musiime

Development, Society, Uncategorized

Raising Activist Children

children making a difference

A friend of mine, her daughter and son are on their way to climb mountain Muhavura in Uganda to raise funds for Grace Villa a home for orphans and vulnerable girls in Kabale, Uganda. My friend’s children, Asante and Leo, who are 10 and 16 years respectively, are already seasoned activists who have raised money for rebuilding their church among other charity work, and we have their parents to thank for that. Such occasions are critical to ingrain deep values in our children that shape our children’s world view.

A story is told of the writer and activist Grace Paley, who had a lot to say about war, race and women, among other things. In her essay, “Traveling,” she first described her mother and her older sister traveling on a bus from New York to Virginia in 1927. It was an express bus, and so it stopped only in Philadelphia and Wilmington before it picked up passengers in Washington, D.C. At that stop, the black people who had boarded in New York or Philadelphia “rose from their seats, put their bags and boxes together, and moved to the back of the bus.”

Paley’s mother and sister, confronted for the first time with the practice of enforced racism, remained in their seats, which were near the back of the bus. When the bus driver sighed and told her that whites had to move to the front of the bus, Paley’s mother said, quite simply “No” He asked her again. And again, she said, “No”. For the third time, he told her she had to get out of her seat, and while Paley’s sister trembled, her mother said, calmly and without expression, “No.”
Fifteen years later, 20-year-old Grace Paley was on a bus from New York to Miami Beach, where her brand-new husband was training to go off to war. Miles and miles she rode, and somewhere in the South – she didn’t remember exactly where – a black woman carrying a sleeping baby boarded the crowded bus. Paley was in the last “white row,” and offered the mother her seat. “She looked to the right and left as well as she could,” wrote Paley. “Softly, she said, ‘Oh no.’ I became fully awake.” Paley then offered to hold her sleeping son.

While formal education and extracurricular instruction matter a great deal, it also matters that we raise children with big hearts. The best way to do this is to model a life of compassion and engagement. This takes time and effort, but the good news is that everyone, including the parent, benefits. Standing tall for something bigger than ourselves breeds an expectation that we will serve, and girds the spine for whatever life brings us.

-Eunice Musiime

 

 

 

Society, Women Rights

How mothers can raise feminist sons

Boys washing plates.jpg

Many of us must have watched this commercial that seeks to promote a new women’ television station and are wondering how come the regulator has not recalled it nor has there been massive public outcry.  Yet it is sending the wrong message to our children on gender stereotypes. It actually exemplifies the pervasiveness of misogyny in our society. It goes “who does all the chores?” and the answer “girls” who takes selfies and the answer “girls” and on and on it goes.  When little girls and boys watch this absurd commercial, they don’t just accept this as the norm but it shapes their long term perspective. This is how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed on from generation to generation.

In fact my sons have already started to refer to this advert to challenge some of my efforts to reject gender stereotypes. The generation of kids we are raising need feminist men and women more than ever. And not just “oh, men and women are equal” but feminist men who will stand to men who aren’t and say “No, that is not ok”

In previous engagements, many feminists have shared that it is critical for us to begin early to create gender awareness. Between the age of three and five the consciousness of gender transforms into solidified opinions informed by the culture around children. What they learn about gender at this young age will shape their world view. For example, Dr. Maggie Kigozi who has broken many ceilings, being among the first woman in male dominated sectors, at recent Women in Leadership platform asked why girls are given dolls to play with while boys are provided with science gadgets to stimulate their minds and then we continue to decry the dominance of men in STEM.

As mothers it is also important to lead by example and show our sons that women are just as strong, smart, just as capable. We have to share stories of amazing things that women have done historically and doing now. The other critical thing is to ensure that when they say things that uphold oppressive social norms is to immediately correct him. I know kids pick up a lot of stuff at school but we can counter it. When my sons go to school and their friends’ call girls names, I want them to be able to say “Man that is not cool.” On the other hand I will also let my sons know that it is okay to cry and help them redefine strength if his instinct is to clench his fist.

We also need to de-emphasize labor division in the home and the whole stereotype that girls cook and do dishes while boys sit and watch television or help daddy wash the car must be tackled head on. There is no women’s work. There is no mans work. There is work and we are a team. Every member is valuable.

There is definitely no silver bullet as to how to raise sons to respect women, but instilling the value of gender equality from birth means that our sons will be better equipped to operate in a world where women are increasingly and rightfully in positions of power. I can only hope that by planting seeds which grow into the movement that will.

~Eunice Musiime

Society

Restoring the leadership position of the first born child.

man-1386235_640

If you are a firstborn child in your family, undoubtedly your upbringing profoundly deferred from the rest of your siblings. The privileges and responsibilities were drawn from religious, cultural, and social norms. For instance, in most of our cultural and legal frameworks, the firstborn were the ones who received a double inheritance and would inherit the father’s role as the head of the family.

Continue reading “Restoring the leadership position of the first born child.”

Development, Society

Leadership: You can’t give what you don’t have

leadership-1959544_960_720

Uganda is engulfed with growing public outcry and heightened conversations about the deteriorating state of leadership at all levels –family, community and national. It is a known fact that the prized values cherished over the years like integrity, authenticity, service, courage, and nationalism are grossly lacking in many of our current leaders.

At the national level; the President, cabinet, parliament and the judiciary have been severally condemned for having lost it. So to speak in today’s lingo. For instance the 10th parliament in comparison to previous sessions has fallen to record lows. The political parties seem to be walking on a very steep slippery slope to disintegration. The civil society is grappling with questions of legitimacy and transparency. The religious leaders have not fared any better, in that they are re-defining holiness.

Continue reading “Leadership: You can’t give what you don’t have”