To be a leader requires many qualities and abilities; qualities such as self confidence, motivation, optimism and enthusiasm. Having charisma also helps particularly in line with the ability to be engaging. To help you team to focus on the goals or project and fully understand their roles is a necessity for any task to be truly successful.
As a commissioning engineer I have had to train many personnel on equipment before handing over for them to maintain. It is extremely rewarding when your audience have fully participated in the training programme and you can see that they have really appreciated the knowledge that has been passed to them.
Back in 2003 I had two visits to Nigeria to commission some water treatment equipment at a tobacco factory in the city of Ibadan. On the second visit, one of my remits was to perform the training not only on the plant that I had been commissioning but also on another companys system to. As I wasn't overly familiar with this equipment, I felt very apprehensive about conducting the training.
The organisation that I had been sub-contracted to were Yugoslavian and the engineers that I had been reporting to had said
"Don't worry, these Nigerians won't ask any questions, the training will soon be over"
These Yugoslavian engineers were conducting some training of their own after my session was over. Tuesday afternoon at 1.00p.m. my time came to perform my training. Gathered around the plant were ten Nigerian guys that at first glance looked totally uninterested.
"Lets go for it" I thought and proceeded to introduce myself.
Now my style was to be light-hearted, not taking myself too seriously. I would obviously go systematically over the equipment but I would throw questions back at them to make sure that they were taking in the information that I was imparting. By the time I had finished talking about the system that I was less familiar with I really felt that I had gotten these Nigerian maintenance staff on my side. I had them then ask me questions and these questions were very intelligent ones. They were interested and I was pleased that my style seemed to be working.
I was becoming more at ease now and when I went on to explain about my "baby"; the piece of equipment that I had commissioned I was in my element. The enthusiasm flowed out and by the end of my training session all these Nigerian maintenance engineers were gathering around me to ask questions about me. I honestly felt that they had taken me to their hearts. It was 4.00p.m.; some three hours later. This had hardly been a short training course and my Yugoslavian friends had still to conduct their training.
In comparison their method was far more serious. They didn't ask questions of the students and didn't invite questions back. It was plain to see the Nigerian staff "switching off" and loosing interest. These people were bright, intelligent people who could very easily take in the lessons providing the training was interesting and engaging.
Despite my nervousness at the beginning, I had the self confidence and self belief to get me through the training and win these people over. With the qualities of enthusiasm and optimism I was able to find the ability to provide motivation and inspiration to these Nigerian people.