The very first ever Leadership Institute in West Africa organized by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and Ford Foundation as partner, has raised 20 fresh leaders working within non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the civil society sector.
The 20 participants in the two-week intensive training were drawn from West African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and Liberia; with resource persons from within the sub-region and Malawi.
The training which had the main aim of strengthening functional leadership within the civil society sector in West Africa, came to a close last week in Accra, amidst a panelist discussions by Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu, WACSI’s Executive Director; Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA); and Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwafo, Executive Secretary, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC).
The discussion was on the theme: “Promoting a Culture of Transformational Leadership within Civil Society” in which all three discussants held that working together as a team was a surer way of ensuring transformational leadership.
According to Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu, a good leader must know the concept of what his or her work is about, have enough knowledge about it and be able to work with others.
She said a leader must be able to build a stronger organization to a point where his or her absence in the organization would not be deeply known.
“It shouldn’t always be about the executive director doing this or doing that; he must be able to build the organization to a point that even when he is not around, the organization functions and even does better,” Nana Afadzinu stated.
She said a good leader must identify the gaps in his organization, and be able to develop strategies which can be used to bridge the gaps.
The WACSI Executive Director recommended networking as an important element in the civil society sector to improve sharing of knowledge and ideas, and experiences which she said could also be learned on the job.
She however stated that leaders must learn to accept their vulnerability because they do not know everything.
Sulemana Braimah, the MFWA Executive Director reiterated that a leader must be willing to give room to others in the team to explore the field their creativity in advancing the organization; and also know “when to act and when to fire”.
He said a leader must make his team members feel the essence of working for the organization, and be ready and able to offer quick solutions.
Mr. Braimah said there were challenges in assuming an effective leadership role which included limited time, that is, having less time to do official work, network, reviewing documents, reading, etc.
Dealing with pressures from the public and media, as well as pressures from staff members were also challenges, according to Mr. Braimah.
The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Mrs. Ofori-Kwafo, said there was the need for a leader to incorporate the leadership skills he or she has been taught in school or trainings with the experiences she has gained over the years to promote his or her organization.
She said a good leader must possess the quality of listening, reading and learning to improve upon his knowledge; adding that capacity building was a very crucial thing to civil society actors.
“If you don’t build enough capacity and you move into leadership position, my brother, my sister, you will suffer. With good knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, you are able to flow,” she emphasized.
The training started on March 9, and ended on March 20, 2015 in Accra, with the objectives of:
• Facilitating a deeper understanding of leadership issues and challenges within civil society in the West African sub-region.
• Using exemplary and successfully standards to improve upon leadership thinking and practice in the region.
• Developing the capacity of skilled human resources who are duly equipped to affect strong oversight and governance of organized civil society institutions.
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