"YOU CAN EITHER BE A TOOL OF INSPIRATION ORTORTURE…"
Leadership as a practical skill, that has been a process passed down from generation to generation that encompasses the ability of an individual or group to lead, guide and influence the manner in which others work towards achieving a specific objective in a situation. As stated by the famous American Coach, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.” Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role – always about the goal. The quote spoke volumes during a five-day induction training workshop for the newly elected TUMSA Student Leaders conducted. The induction was aimed at preparing the new leaders for effective communication, efficient teamwork, leadership, academics & life balance, stress management as well as coping with different leadership challenges during their term in office.
After the tranquil campaign and election held on 5th November 2021 at the Technical University of Mombasa, the institute was honored to elect Mr. Nzyuko Mutinda, TUMSA President and his team as the newly elected group, picking up the leadership mantle from the outgoing student Chairman Mr. Jacklinus Otieno. Having one academic year in office, the elected team is positive about the strategies they have set to steer the university to success. Understanding that leadership is not about a title or a designation but impact, influence, inspiration and taking into consideration that their purpose in the office is to direct the students toward a successful stay at TUM, completion of their studies and graduation, ready for the job market.
The newly elected team was treated to a 4–day fully booked service that entailed a host of activities courtesy of the Technical University of Mombasa at the Sunset Paradise Serena in Shanzu. The 4 day lineup was attended by Prof. Laila Abubakar (Vice Chancellor), Prof. Gichangi (Deputy Vice Chancellor), Mrs. Sarah Welime (Registrar Academic Affairs), Dr. Madiha Khamis (Senior Counselor),TUMSA Student Leaders, Mr. Cornelius (Kenya School of Government), Nafula Bwire (Kenya School of Government), Ms. Sarah Okumu (Legal Officer & Advocate of the High Court) and Ms. Jaytee Kivihya (Corporate Communications Manager) .
In her address The Vice Chancellor, Professor Laila Abubakar opened the event by congratulating the entire team for winning the 2021-2022, Student Leaders election and being elected in their respective position and urged them to embrace humility within their respective positions and more so be servant leaders. She applauded the Dean of Students Mr. Joel Awino and his team for organizing such an events, and reiterated that the University Management Board welcomes the initiative, and it will endeavor to ensure that such induction and team building workshops are enhanced within the University.
Leadership to many people, seems like a walk in the park but little do they know what goes on behind the scenes, she echoed. Being in a position to work hand in hand with the university management and students to establish a common structure for excellence and vision doesn’t come easily. As a leader, you serve others before you serve yourself. “You didn’t come here to be a professional student, you came here to read, serve your fellow students and leave the institution, within the stipulated period, that is what makes you a visionary leader or a liar.” She elaborated to the student leaders on how they should polish their acumen and to not judge others quickly. “Once you are in a position to serve your followers, it’s your response that decides whether you are escalating a crisis or de-escalating it.” Leaders tend to abuse such power for their personal gains not knowing that without the fellow citizen, they wouldn’t be in that position of power.
The Vice Chancellor reiterated that the Student leaders should act as key representatives of the students’ population, and work to ensure that the University core values and standards are maintained at all times. She called upon them to enhance dissemination of accurate information and also be aware of the impacts of social media in ruining and developing careers. She further advised them to look at the bigger picture of their responsibilities within the University and avoid being fixated on radical leadership, as they are the future leaders of tomorrow. She imploded that the Student Leaders to act as the University custodians. Informing them that the University has numerous projects in the pipeline that will enhance their learning experience, and needs to be protected from unnecessary vandalism. She thus, asked them to ensure that they call on their constituents who are the Students’ population to avoid destruction of school properties and facilities, as these affects the University in its strategic planning measures.
Her sentiments were echoed by the DVC (ARE) Prof. Peter G. Gichangi who called on the Student Leaders to always be ready to embrace dialogue with the University Management Board, and always work to ensure that the University standards are upheld. The Student Leaders within their roles as representative of the students’ population are guided by the University Constitution in disseminating their duties. He urged them to have knowledge of the University Act of 2012 and University structures (2013) in order to understand the laid down protocols to follow in case of any issues.
The Ag. Registrar (Academic Affairs) Ms. Sarah Welime convoluted on the styles of leadership that should be used by the student officials. ‘Too much work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ the British weren’t insane when they acknowledged that adage. As leaders, you must ensure that work is distributed equally amongst each other to live up to your desired goal. She noted that most of the students at TUM had a huge problem when it came to exam cheating, late admission and confusing between deferment and academic leave. “In almost every disciplinary meeting held in the varsity, 90 cases are linked to exam cheating. Students should understand that this does not only disrupt your education but life as a whole, your CV or Portfolio is destroyed. ” She advised the officials to educate the students on the consequences that came with their actions to prevent further problems.
In the midst of the session, prominent officials from the Kenya School of Government and an advocate of the high court were able to advise the student leaders on the importance of leadership towards the nation, varsity and oneself.
The Legal Officer and advocate of the high Court, Ms. Sarah Okumu in her elaborate explanation of the significance of the legal documents, the constitution of Kenya, the University policies, procedures, rules and laws, called on the Student Leaders to have a thorough knowledge of the University Act (2012), TUM Charter 2013, TUM Statutes Rev. 2016, TUMSA Constitution 2020 and the TUMSA Stall Allocation Policy 2020 work, and University Constitution in order to be able to dispense their leadership in accordance with the laid down procedures. She further called on them to always be ready to seek legal advice from the legal office when necessary. ‘Ignorance is a position you can’t allow yourself to be in as a leader.’ Leaders must be aware of these legal instruments so to familiarize themselves with any scenario that might put the varsity in danger.
Mrs. Nafula Bwire A facilitator from the Kenya School of Government, touched on the how to manage time. In the sphere of life, just like any other human being, we have limited time. Each one of us gets 24 hours a day to be productive or lazy. Lack of planning always puts one under pressure. Leaders should understand the importance of a second as it applies to many activities in life. “If you want to know the importance of a second, ask the sprinter who missed the mark by a second or the businessman who missed his flight that would have sealed a huge deal.” One should learn how to utilize every second because whether you are aware or not, time is the only resource that’s evenly distributed by nature, perishable and intangible. Proper time management reduces unnecessary workload as you can easily balance between work and school.
The University Management Board sentiments were echoed by the Student Leaders, who promised to work closely with the administration to ensure that their reign is a success. The Student Leaders as a whole highlighted that they will strive to uphold the TUMSA constitution and they will be ready to seek for advice always.
Last but not least the Dean of Students, Mr. Joel Awino, highlighted that student leaders within their roles are called upon to embrace honesty and integrity. He called on them to always work together with the University Administration in order to minimize unnecessary conflicts within their term. He further asked the Student Leaders to come up with a budget and work plan which will act as a guide to their duties and responsibilities until the end of the year. He closed the session with a powerful quote, ‘You are the first part of the call that students turn to when there are student problems.’ Leaders must understand this and know that they also play a part in the lives of other people.
The session ended with a prayer from a student official accompanied with loads of activities outside the conference room. The student leaders heeded to the advice given by their elders and assured them of a different style of leadership that would assist students and steer them to a better future in the University.