On August 18, 2021, the ACHEST Executive Director, Prof. Francis Omaswa was invited by the Makerere University College of Health Sciences to virtually give a talk on effective leadership. This arrangement was under the Health Professions Education and Training for Strengthening the Health System and Services in Uganda (HEPI-SHSSU) programme at the College.
More than 100 staff members from the university attended the webinar. Prof. Omaswa inspired them on how to be good leaders, with basic principles such as taking care of themselves, discipline and working for the common good.
Below is the summary of his presentation:
What is leadership?
Leadership is about being an agent of change, a positive contributor to society and it is about common good. Already , all of you are leaders- you already got your university degrees as medical students and nurses. You left behind so many people that you started with in Primary One and all those people look at you as a success story. They look at you as someone to imitate and they look up to you as someone from whom they can learn. So, leadership is about being a role model that others can follow.
Take care of yourself
It starts with you being in the right state physically, mentally, and spiritually. Do you wat well, do you sleep enough, are you clean? Are you at peace? What are these other issues disturbing your mind. What is your moral status? Do you have a moral anchor, a beacon? It starts with you being at peace with yourself. I have seen young people ruin their careers by becoming an alcoholic or a social situation that stops them from achieving other things. For example, having extramarital affairs. With that, you can’t do what is expected of you as a leader
Be in charge of yourself. Have a plan every day. Where do you want to be in 2, 5- or 10-years’ time and how do you get there? Do you make monthly, weekly and daily workplans: a to-do list ? That is HOW you become a highly performing individual. You cannot be a leader if you’re not a performer. You must be disciplined and keep order in your life and be able to plan everyday so that at the end of the day you keep track of what you have done, or haven’t.
You can either be someone who is positive or someone who is negative. The positive person sees a solution and an opportunity in every problem. However, to a negative person, nothing works. However good an opportunity is he will find something to say- that nothing will work. With positivity, you will meet problems and surmount them
Basic things like brushing your teeth, and keeping your hair and nails clean and tidy count. Sometimes you can just look at a person and say this one cannot be a leader. Their shoes are not polished, their clothes are not clean, the shirt is half-tucked in. Leaders are not like that.
Human beings are by nature spiritual. I believe in God and pray everyday twice a day. Praying alone is an examination of yourself. Are you disciplined, are you achieving what you want, what are you praying about. A moral compass is every important
Work for the common good
There are three important tips to consider under this:
1) Excellence—whatever you do, apply your whole self in it so that it is as well done as it is possible to do within your ability
2) Ensure that it achieves its purpose. Don’t put yourself first thinking about “where am I in this?” No. Something will go wrong if you have such a self-centered mentality. But if you do it with the mindset of this is for all of us (common good), you will find that whatever you do will be seen by others and you will be asked to coordinate things for other people. By and large, what you do will be eventually be rewarding. You don’t have to worry that you will lose out if you work for the common good.
3) In doing things for the common good, you are going to find difficulties. People will fight you and frustrate you. You need to have the ability to negotiate difficult situations and fight battles. Win them or lose them, without making those who are in conflict with you feeling like you don’t like them. The best way is to listen to the opposition. Come back to provide information to the things they have told you – to inform and inspire. If you are doing it for the common good, you will find that even those who were opposing you will come back and support what you are doing.
In conclusion, all along you will find that the world is watching you. The decisions about you will be made when you are not there. They talk about you and decide to give you an opportunity when looking for someone to do a certain task. If you apply for a job they will discuss you when you are not there. They will have made up their minds basing on the ways in which you are conducting yourself, as someone who works for the common good. You are being recognized as an effective leader. You will grow, and grow and grow. My most prominent leadership roles were all attained by invitation from powers who had watched my work over time.