“When you provide empowered leadership, achieving goals is much easier!” Lessons from the Acumen & AMI Middle Manager Development Program

Here at Sanergy, we are dedicated to helping teammates develop professionally, providing them with opportunities and support to advance their skills, knowledge, and career ambitions. We offer internal trainings and help identify external opportunities for our teammates to enhance their professional and personal skills.

Three teammates — Rahab Wainaina, Alex Manyasi, and Michael Lwoyelo — recently concluded a year-long leadership-building workshop organized by Acumen and African Management Initiative.

The workshop aimed to strengthen and sharpen these managers’ skills in functional management, personal effectiveness, and leadership.

The trio graduated last month, and here they share some valuable lessons from the program.

What session or activity did you find most useful? Why?

Sanergy teammate Rahab Wainaina speaking at the Middle Manager Development Program graduation ceremony

Rahab Wainaina (RW): I found the learning labs (classroom sessions) most useful. This is because in those labs we had an opportunity to openly share about our real work experiences, which formed a good foundation for our continued learning.

Alex Manyasi (AM): The most useful sessions for me were online courses. I particularly liked the course on adaptive leadership, which offered insights on decision-making while ensuring team inclusion especially during dynamic situations.

Michael Lwoyelo (ML): The session on cascading stories was my favorite! It taught us an easy way to get everyone in our teams and organization to feel a sense of belonging and ownership, thereby better enabling open sharing of ideas and tasks.

What is one new thing you learnt from the sessions? 

R.W: Stakeholder analysis – the process of identifying individuals or groups that are likely to affect or be affected by a proposed action, and sorting them according to their impact on the action and the impact the action will have on them. As an HR professional, I learnt that conducting internal stakeholder analysis is critical.

Sanergy teammate Alex Manyasi receiving his certificate of completion at the graduation ceremony

AM: I learnt that management is different from leadership. While it is important for any person to have both skills, being a leader means that one is able to ensure that every team member is on board working toward achieving a common goal.

ML: I learnt that it is always important to consider different perspectives from different teammates. It helps management to arrive at optimal decisions.

Who was the most interesting person you met or heard speak during your sessions?

RW: Everyone I met at the workshop was amazing! We were a rare and dynamic group with unique and valuable contributions.

AM: John, a finance lead from SolarNow, was the most interesting person I met. While he shared great leadership insights with other participants, he always accompanied them with funny jokes that not only enhanced our learning but also added levity to the experience

Sanergy teammate Michael Lwoyelo sharing his reflections at the graduation ceremony

ML: Listening to our facilitator, Klara, was very edifying! She is very knowledgeable in the field of management and leadership. She used powerful coaching techniques that made our learning more effective. For instance, she used the “asking the right questions” technique very well! She would ask questions that would encourage all of us to think and eventually figure out the right answers by ourselves.

What are some things you learnt from the workshop that you will implement  in your team?

RW: My team and I will try implementing stakeholder analysis in Sanergy projects.

AM: Ensuring inclusion in decision making among my team members; I aim to empower my teammates with leadership skills that will in turn provide them the confidence and insight to be team players as well as contribute to the team’s decision making.

ML: I aim to prevent my team members from ‘passing the monkey’ amongst each other – a situation where tasks are tossed from one person to the next mainly within top-down management. This not only overwhelms supervisors’ tasks but also deters junior staff from developing their professional skills.

(l-r) Sanergy co-founder Lindsay Stradley, Acumen Founder & CEO Jacqueline Novogratz, Rahab, Acumen Head of Talent Development Molly Alexander, Michael, Alex, and Acumen East Africa Director Duncan Onyango

As a leader at Sanergy, what advice would you share for strengthening one’s leadership skills?    

RW: For one to strengthen their leadership skills, it is important to find trustworthy peers with whom they can share their leadership experiences and journey toward honing their skills in leadership.

AM: There is no monopoly of knowledge. Every leader should share it freely and provide their teammates a chance to share it by allowing their contribution to decision making.

ML: Every good leader should be open to listening and considering different perspectives from their team members.

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