By Victor Ochieng’
Those who have worked with Mrs Juliana Kirui, the former principal of Kipsigis Girls, know that this winsome woman is wonderful and wise. She is a legendary leader who understands that piety, empathy and charisma are some of the colourful qualities that decorate the head and heart of a great principal. That explains why her triumphant entry into Moi Girls-Eldoret was precipitated with pomp, colour, glamour and glory.
Both students and the staff danced and rejoiced because their morale and motivation was in cloud nine.
I had previously worked with Mrs Kirui in her former station of work. I can say she is a very pious principal who strives to put God first in every matter. She prioritises piety and hardly fails to attend the school Sunday services. At times, she teaches and preaches. I remember her reciting the whole chapter of Psalms 91 during one of the Sunday services I had attended at her school. I was amazed and amused by her massive banks of memory and the thorough grasp of the sacred scriptures.
She is a principal who depicts to students that wisdom is not just the application of knowledge or the accumulation of common sense. She lets them know that wisdom comes with the fear of God and that students who revere God have their conscience clear like crystal and hardly go on strike or fan ferocious flames of fire.
Mrs Kirui strives to weld together her staff through frequent fellowships. She understands that for a dream to be visualized, there must be teamwork. TEAM is Together Each Achieves More or Miracles. She obeys the Gestalt Theory, which postulates that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. Through the Christian convocations, teammates practise mastermind alliance while the leader fosters teamwork as teammates demonstrate its tenets.
The staff fellowships that Mrs Kirui champions for promote collaboration, cooperation and unity of purpose. Through it all, the organisation wins several wars. For the sage says that united we stand but divided we fall while the Psalmist puts it aptly that it is pleasant and sweet for brethren to dwell in unity for where there is unity, the God of grace commands a blessing.
Moreover, Mrs Kirui is a leader who practises empathy: the ability to fit in someone’s shoes. Great Principals like Mrs Kirui put puissance on the heart first. I read somewhere that to lead yourself, use your head but to lead others, use your heart.
Great Principals become empathetic when they mind the welfare of students and staff. In every community, there are situations like death, disability, divorce, accident, job loss, sickness, loss of a parent, et cetera that call for empathy.
Great principals are leaders who are HUMAN as carefully-crafted in the Leader Who Had Not Title by Robin Sharma. HUMAN means they help, understand, mingle, amuse and nurture people.
Great principals encourage teachers to grow and glow in their career paths and progression. They create open door policies where students feel free to express their grievances in school barazas, class assemblies, and suggestion boxes without fear of victimisation. These ilk of principals treat school stakeholders with deep dignity and decorum. They love and cherish fair play. They hardly breach contracts. They walk the talk. They remain sensitive to the needs of customers, pick calls of clients and respond to suppliers on time.
Empathy is what makes great principals to conceptualise what Simon Sinek talks about in Leaders Eat Last. Every employee in an organisation is someone’s son or daughter. It behooves the leader to play the parentage and tutelage role. Letting someone into an organisation is like adopting a child. When people grapple to find happiness at the work places, they transfer that struggle to their homes. On the other hand, those who work in organisations that treat them like human beings wend home with a sure sense of fulfilment and contentment.
In conclusion, Mrs Kirui is a perfect epitome of a great principal because she blends character with charisma. Charismatic approach to leadership is not all about being talkative per se but the quality which causes leaders to attract people like a magnet.
Charisma makes the difference between personality and personality plus. In Be a People Person, Dr. John C. Maxwell explains that the proponent of prominent leadership ideas posits that leaders who are replete with CHARISMA focus on Concern, Help, Action, Results, Influence, Sensitivity, Motivation and Affirmations.
Concern is the ability to show that the leader cares. As Theodore Roosevelt sagely said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Help is the ability to reach out. It is a good gift. In fact, the Greek word of the word ‘gift’ is ‘charisma’ – meaning the gift of grace. Action is the ability to make things happen. Result is the ability to produce. Influence is the ability to lead. Leadership is about influence; nothing more, nothing less. Sensitivity is the ability to respond. Motivation is the ability to give hope and help. Affirmation is the ability to build up people’s self-esteem through wise use of words.
The writer is an orator, editor and author.