From Management to Leadership

March 29, 2022

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Most of the time, the articles we publish about our Leadership for Growth (L4G) program tend to focus on the skills we teach like leading purpose-driven teams, problem-solving, coaching; or the Business Innovation Projects that participants are guided to deliver.

But a lesser known, equally potent value is how this program impacts the personal leadership journeys of those who participate. We call this Personal Leadership Practice – a self-identified growth area, which the participant can work on during and after the program through peer accountability systems and faculty mentorship.

One such journey was that of Susie Kinyanjui, who spent formative years in the US before returning to Kenya. She is a founding member of two organizations – Cookswell Jikos and Provisions Kenya, and she focuses on both the operations as well as the financial health of the companies, as it often happens in small or medium-size companies. On a daily basis she does a bit of everything; ranging from managing suppliers, developing new products, facilitating tree planting projects, teaching classes, and keeping the financial forecasting current. In total, both organizations are over 60 people.

Before joining L4G, Susie had been exposed to other leadership programs, but was attracted to the notion of defining leadership roles and tools and how to use these to impact  business operations. She wanted to focus on new, creative and successful ways to look at the impact of leadership, and she had heard that Amani Institute may provide just that.

We sat down to chat with Susie to learn more from her perspective, now that she has had a few months since graduating to think about it.

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Susie (right) with her sister Nancy who is a co-founder at Provisions

Looking back across those 5 months (of the program), could you tell us your key takeaway from Leadership for Growth?

This program helped legitimize my desire to move out of managing and into a leadership role“– which became the focus of my Personal Leadership Practice. I have always been drawn to planning, vision creation, and execution, and strategy. The process helped me see how to develop a path towards leadership that takes into account my working style and personality. 

How did the Personal Leadership Practice influence you and your approach to leadership?

The most surprising part of this program was how helpful the module on self-awareness was. This section continues to help orient myself in terms of my style of working. There is a lot to be said for focussing on the people part of the team. Module 2 really taught me how important it is to have an engaged and fulfilled team. I am now much more conscious of how personalities and working styles can affect our teams’ dynamic as well. 

The program also helped me have broader conversations with our teams about where we are now, what we need, and how to capitalize on opportunities to task shift. As I think about personal leadership, I can see how cultivating a strong team is a very important part of a leader’s role.

Can you speak to the way this program has helped you lead your organizations into the purpose economy?

I was really inspired by the notion of “growing for people, not just for profits”. As a part of the ‘Business as a Force for Good’ module in the Leadership for Growth program, I enjoyed learning about and developing metrics that could help us hold ourselves accountable to being an enterprise creating social impact. 

I also learnt to be patient, and that everything doesn’t need to be solved right now. I’ve grown more comfortable identifying the things that need solving, and then being okay knowing that we are working towards solving it.

How was the experience joining a program where the other participants were all from India and South Asia?

That was really interesting for me, L4G was a great forum to learn from others in the cohort. I especially appreciated the diversity in personalities and experiences and enjoyed sharing my own perspective as well.

by Varun Mukerji
29.03.2022