Let’s prepare young people for future transformational leadership

18Apr 2022
Daniel Semberya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Let’s prepare young people for future transformational leadership

​​​​​​​YOUTH development and participation is a necessary condition for progress of any nation. For, today's generation of young people is absolutely massive. Some 1.8 billion people are between ages 10 and 24, according the United Nations.

Female young leaders from higher learning institutions in a group photo with facilitators from TGNP during a training on leadership held in Dar es Salaam recently. Photo courtesy of TGNP.

Most of these young people live in developing countries like Tanzania. How well they navigate adolescence determine not only the course of their own lives, but that of the world. Yet too many youth are unable to participate fully in society. The UN estimates that around 175 million young people in low-income countries cannot read a full sentence. Among those aged 15-24, some 500 million live on less than USD2 a day, and over 73 million are unemployed.

History shows that impactful leaders possess skills such as the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with a clear vision for the future of their countries, organizations or institutions. They motivate and lead others to success.

These leaders are needed in organizations across sectors and industries. Developing these essential leadership skills can turn normal young persons into efficient leaders who guide their organizations or countries to the path of growth and overall success.

Presenting a paper on young female leaders on transformational leadership in Dar es Salaam during a dialogue on youth involvement in gender agenda organised recently by TGNP, the organisation’s Head of Programme Shakila Mayumana advised young people to seek leadership skills for them to be transformational leaders.

She said transformational leaders are those who make their followers to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation through the strength of their vision and personality.

Mayumana noted that a transformational leader among other things inspires followers to change their expectations, perceptions and motivation towards a common agenda hence gaining trust, respect and admiration.

Transformational leadership is a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.

Transformational leaders inspire employees in ways that go beyond exchanges and rewards. This approach can increase a team’s intrinsic motivation by expressing the value and purpose behind the organization’s goals.

A transformational leadership style inspires employees to strive beyond required expectations to work toward a shared vision, whereas transactional leadership focuses more on extrinsic motivation for the performance of specific job tasks. Learning to balance these styles can help leaders reach their full potential, she said.

Commenting on the intellectual stimulation, Mayumana urged the emerging young female leaders from University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), the Institute of Finance Management (IFM), Mzumbe University, NIT and Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy to not only challenge the status quo but get creative and offer solutions.

“Wherever you are, don’t criticize everything but rather give solutions or alternatives on how to address the challenges at hand,” she said.

On individualised consideration, she urged the young leaders to offer support and encouragement to individual followers, asking them to adopt skills of a transformational leader by keeping lines of communication open for their followers to share ideas so that they feel free to communicate.

She further advised the participants to recognize the unique contributions of each follower; stressing that they should keep in mind that the people they lead are not glass half-empty but rather glass half-full.

“That means everyone in whatever capacity or situation has something to contribute to her or his community provided you teach or direct tem. Everyone can add value, even a child provided you give them the freedom and opportunity to do so,” she said.

The facilitator challenged young people who have the tendency of living in a comfort zones and keeping on throwing blames to leaders or authorities to change and become problem solvers.

With regard to idealized influence, she urged participants to always understand that they are a role model to their followers, and hence their private lives are also public.

“Because followers trust and respect you, they emulate you and internalize your ideals. Transformational leaders inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and in the process, develop their own leadership capacity,”

Flora Ndaba, Acting Head of Programme in charge of Activism and Movement Building at TGNP said that the objectives of the dialogue were among others, to link young women leaders with one another and create a national, regional and international network discussing youth involvement in gender transformative feminist movement building.

TGNP identifies young women leaders from high learning institutions and youth-led organsations, creates a roadmap on the network’s engagement in policy, framework, plans and strategies and also profiles young leaders in Tanzania Women Leadership (TWL) database, she said.

According to Ndaba, giving priority to young women is vital to TGNP since youth make up 61 per cent of the Tanzanian population yet they play low-level roles in leadership and are used as a stepping stone for older folks to obtain high leadership positions.

“Despite having many young women with leadership potential in Africa, they have fewer opportunities compared to young men,” she said.

During the commemoration of 25+ after the Beijing Conference, UN Women established the Generation Equality Forum which celebrated 25 years since the 4th and landmark international conference on women’s rights took place in China, launching the Beijing Platform for Action, a comprehensive framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Hafsati Sheturi, Vice President at Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, commended TGNP for mentoring participants on leadership skills, saying that she gained some skills on how to face leadership challenges and address the same boldly.

Zuhura Ng’umbi, a student and class representative at University of Dar es Salaam also commended TGNP for equipping them with leadership skills. She noted that the training inspired her and she now has the courage and ability to vie for higher positions such as the president or vice president which are male dominated positions in higher learning institutions.

Miriam Mkanza, a member of parliament in the students’ organization at DIT and class representative said the training was of great benefit for her as a women leader.

“The training has empowered and inspired us t vie for higher positions such as presidential, vice president or speaker which are male-dominated. I am now ready to break that taboo,” she said.

Sia Godliving from Ardhi University said that the training empowered her with the courage to compete for any position, be it at the university or outside the university.

She urged women to support one another during elections so that they can hold not only many but high leadership positions in the country. Women should not be used by men during campaigns but should be campaigning alongside men, she said.

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