- The professional training refreshed and re-equipped the leaders for today’s changing times.
- It positions the Sacco at a vantage point in the business world.
- Organizations need fully equipped leaders to transform and lead by example.
Started in 1976 as a Union Banking Section of Kisii Farmers’ Co-operative Union (KFCU), Wakenya Pamoja Sacco Society Ltd. (WPS) has remained on top of its game, delivering high-quality services to its customers all along.
Over the years, it has grown and extended its roots into not only Kisii County but also the neighboring Nyamira County.
It has been exploring more financial opportunities, diversification of leadership and membership, and also pursuing a transformative approach to its operations.
The diversification is already creating a stronger impetus and incentive for change in society.
In today’s ever-changing world, to stay relevant, businesses must remain conscientious and quick to keep in step with the daily transitions.
In a bid to infuse a modern approach to the branches in their engagement with customers and running of the entire Sacco, a select staff underwent thorough training on April 19 and 20, 2023, in Kisii town.
The professional training was attended by the branch managers from all 14 branches, the internal auditor, ICT managers, an accountant, and the Human Resource Manager, Wakenya Pamoja Sacco.
According to Isaac Omwenga, the CEO, Wakenya Pamoja Sacco, the training aimed to equip the leading staff with the latest skills, approaches and strategies in the market, positioning them at a point of knowledge on handling their duties in steering the Sacco forward.
The training in context
Opening the training, the CEO reminded his staff of the need to update themselves on the daily changes being witnessed in the commercial quarters.
“This is the first time we have this kind of training. I hope it will help you to go about the daily demands of the Sacco and arm you with the required skills to develop the right strategies for our improvement,” he expected.
The top-notch training was conducted by Arise Circle KE, a Center for Leadership and Organizational Development consultancy organization steered by professionals with years of experience in the banking and finance sector, leadership and governance spheres as well as health and wellness quarters.
Drawing from their deep springs of expertise and experiential leadership skills, the trainers aimed at creating all-round leaders from the staff present, not only in managerial positions but also by awakening the transformational leaders in them by refreshing their worldview, approach to issues and the desire to lead by example.
What’s in the waiting bay?
In an interview with the CEO, he confided to Scholar Media Africa that the Sacco is pursuing the possibility of rolling out digital banking for customers’ online access to their loans and other services.
“We are also planning to expand from the current 14 branches and get to other major regions such as Nairobi and Nakuru, among others,” he added.
Cognizant of the vital transformational leadership skills needed to achieve these milestones, the trainers exposed these leaders to:
Change Management, Intrapreneurship and Talent Management, Emotional Intelligence as a Key Matrix in Leadership, Personal Finance Management, Conflict Resolution for Teams and Stakeholder Management, as well as Managing Emerging Issues in the Workplace, among many other signature topics.
Connect with people
“You need to go beyond being managers and normalize moving out to connect with the clients and prospective clients.
There is power in connecting with people,” said Edinah Kangwana MBS, MHC, Founder of Arise Circle KE, a leadership and governance practitioner and a diversity and inclusion advocate.
Be role models
Speaking on Transformational Leadership, she underscored the need for the managers to be role models and mentors who embrace diversity and seek to empower and enrich their followers, making them heroes.
Ms. Kangwana also urged them to learn to study their environment, identify the source of power and connect themselves with it by standing out excellently.
“Equally, know when to combine the different leadership styles in different contexts,” she told the trainees, parading the styles and their characteristics.
She also highlighted the importance of the leaders understanding their strengths and aligning them with the organization’s requirements.
Wakenya Pamoja’s vision is to be the financial services provider of choice.
According to the CEO, the Sacco is currently serving over 20,000 clients in the tea and coffee sectors, entrepreneurs and registered women groups, having served over 1400 such women groups by now.
Its services require dynamism which can only be honed through such training sessions, and so does any other organization’s leadership.
However, “It is not about using your energy, but using your mind,” said Dr. Walter Okibo, MBS, MHC, an Entrepreneur, Consultant, Strategist, Transformative Leader and Policy Maker.
Training them on Intrapreneurship and Talent Management, he pointed out that “The world has been going through an entrepreneurial metamorphosis, and leaders should keep themselves abreast with the changes.”
Dr. Okibo revealed that in businesses, the management regularly fails to discover its staff’s potential.
This makes it hard to deploy them accurately.
He says that during the recruitment, the recruiter(s) should be keen to go beyond academic qualifications and explore the candidate’s other strengths, gifts and talents.
They should also be avid to recruit, manage and retain top talents so that they can impact, empower and coach their workmates.
Recruiters and managers should understand diversity and notice candidates’ and juniors’ unique potential.
But also, everyone should first realize their strengths, talents and abilities for them to stand out.
“Your qualifications and academic papers may get you the job, but talent will make you stand out above others at the workplace,” he encouraged.
He added that your talent will distinguish you from your colleagues and also help you progress career-wise.
He also urged the leaders to nurture an entrepreneurial environment for creating, exploring and trying out new things.
That encourages intrapreneurship— entrepreneurship in an existing organization— to thrive.
In all engagements, transformative leaders should closely monitor their mental health and that of their workmates.
Dr. Edna Orina, a Consultant Radiologist and Head of Radiology at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH) handled the aspect of Wellness at the Workplace, with a focus on stress.
The medic noted that stress, if not well managed, advances to distress, which can potentially endanger your psychological and physical well-being.
Unmanaged and progressed distress grows to depression, which is symptomized by a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, thus significantly reducing productivity at the workplace and endangering lives.
“To reduce stress, you should be realistic and set practical goals which are achievable. Also, find a support system for you to be sharing with them whenever you hit a snag,” Dr. Orina advised.
Self-care, a change in attitude, learning to say “No”, laughing, being organized and praying are among the many available approaches to combating stress among colleagues or oneself.
Acknowledging that more boys and men are committing suicide, Dr. Orina urged the men to attend mentorship sessions, mentor their colleagues and help them navigate through hard times.
While there are many causes of stress, changes at the workplace are also a major cause, yet organizations are constantly in transition, thus the need for staff to master change management.
Diving into the topic, Dr. Okibo noted that participation and collaboration are important aspects to factor in during the change management process.
Cognizant of the technological and digital changes awaiting Wakenya Pamoja Sacco to fully align itself with the current demands of the financial sector, this subject gelled well with the managers’ skills-to-learn.
With the emotional aspect of change being a sensitive experience, Emotional Intelligence (EI) comes in handy with change management, allowing sensitivity, understanding and managing own emotions while understanding others’ emotions and dealing with them with empathy.
“You must understand yourself first before you understand those around you. You use your experiences, put yourself in the shoes of others and figure out what they would feel in such a situation,” Ms. Kangwana pointed out.
She says that Emotional Intelligence involves:
- Scanning the environment.
- Perceiving and naming emotions.
- Reasoning with emotions.
- Parading the available options, and
- Choosing the best approach.
She urged the participants to normalize writing down their emotions, giving themselves time to calm down, sharing with a trusted person, and monitoring their perceptions.
Perceptions shape how people react to different life experiences.
Emotional Intelligence enables staff to manage the job easily and with understanding.
Workplace emerging issues
The topic of managing emerging issues at the workplace was handled by Jairus Kibagendi, a Psychologist and the Founder, A Million Hugs, a Community-Based Organization (CBO) dealing with mental wellness and related matters.
It surfaced that understanding personalities is important in allocating duties and approaching and solving issues at the workplace.
So is the need to be in contact with employees and hold debriefing sessions.
Gender disparities, technology, employee relations, generational differences and mental health are some of today’s major emerging issues at the workplace.
Conflict resolution, stakeholder management
Past emerging issues, lack of information and resources, chasing different futures, incompetency and different personalities are some of the major causes of conflicts at the workplace.
“When handling a conflict, do not dwell on discussing the conflict instead of the solution. Also, separate it from your personal issues,” advised Dr. Okibo.
The certified mediator also noted that corporate conflicts should be solved as soon and openly as possible.
The solvers should be solution-based and build common ground, recognizing and respecting personal differences, among other approaches.
Your money, our concern
The training also handled personal finance management, with Ms. Kangwana, a former banker, exposing the subject.
“Ensure that you have diversified your income sources,” she gave a hack, mentioning income, expenditure, savings, investment and protection as the main components of personal finance.
As a Sacco, Wakenya Pamoja gives loans to clients for school fees, boosting their agribusiness ventures and also financing their projects.
Grasping personal finance hacks would help the managers give accurate advice to their clients and ensure the finances help them.
As for the trainees, nuggets from the topic are a gem to help them manage their finances, invest wisely, and increase their income sources.
Saving regularly, conscious spending with tracking of expenses, investing wisely and having the right protection measures such as a retirement plan, health insurance and emergency fund, are all essential to enable one to remain financially afloat.
“Financial sufficiency is wellness and freedom,” Ms. Kangwana noted.
In closing the training, Ronald Manyasia, the Operations Manager, represented the group’s CEO.
He hoped that the Sacco’s staff had learned and become transformatively wired, noting that the world is not how it was yesterday.
“I believe what we have gained here will be useful in changing our workplace and also impacting our juniors,” he said.
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The participants were also certified on successfully finishing the Transformational Leadership for Managers course.
Arise Circle believes in a culture of reading for personal and societal transformation. The organizers, therefore, gave every participant a book.