Basic Nuru Leadership Training: Servant Leadership in Nuru and Beyond
“A leader needs to be like a candle put on a light stand to light everywhere. Such leaders are an example in a community and there is need of people to copy them”
-Response from a Nuru staff member about what they learned during BNLT
For the past three weeks, the leadership team has been training over 120 of Nuru’s staff for our week-long training series called Basic Nuru Leadership Training, or BNLT. Primarily focusing on the tenants of servant leadership, BNLT also explores such concepts as bottom-up versus top-down development, what it means for Nuru to be an integrated model, how Nuru scales, and why sustainability is important.
With interactive lessons based on learning through experiences, the response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive and many of them have already begun implementing the concepts they learned into their daily lives and work. One staff member working with the Income Generating Activities (IGA) program did a research report that included the importance of servant leadership and how both IGA and leadership contribute significantly to Nuru’s sustainability—information which he learned directly from the BNLT training.
Many of the other sessions of BNLT also clearly indicate that participants are not only understanding important concepts but are also using them in their daily lives. In Kehancha Division, during a lesson that focused on a leader’s place in the community and the importance of being humble and together with your people, a lively discussion arose about a very specific kind of community leader. Many of the participants in the class were pastors and had a specific idea about what their role as leaders should be. They argued that during special church events pastors should eat at a separate table and be given different food than the congregation. This means that while the pastors might take popular local favorites like ugali, chicken, and stew, regular church goers would instead be served something simpler, like chapati and beans. The class was divided between those who believed pastors should eat separately with better food, and those who thought it was right for the pastors to sit with the congregation and consume the same food as the rest of the people. Using the leadership lesson as a vehicle to talk about this issue, participants engaged in a heated but friendly debate, all eventually coming to the conclusion that pastors should not be given special privileges or better food than the rest of the church goers, and that instead of eating separately, they should be eating together with their people. The pastors in the class even made the promise that they would change their behavior in their respective churches—that they will now always eat together with their congregation, and not take advantage of the special perks their position may provide them.
Both of these examples illustrate just why leadership and the trainings we provide are so important to both Nuru and the community at large. Frequently the Leadership Program is thought of as a long-term investment; we are working to create strong, humble leaders, but that does not happen overnight. Yet, these small strides clearly indicate that we are not just building long-term leaders but we are helping to create an immediate change and positive impact within Nuru and the greater community right now. The fact that after our training a number of Nuru staff have already begun to implement the concepts from the BNLT lessons, both at their jobs and in their daily lives, is a testament to the importance and effectiveness of the Leadership Program. In the past three weeks of BNLT, the philosophies of Nuru have gone from concepts to reality— and the reality is that the leadership team is making a real impact, in very real ways, in the real lives of the people we work with.