Leaders Need to Care

Kidest Lulu Hagos

Working for an unsupportive manager at the beginning of her career, Kidest Lulu Hagos recognized early-on that most people are not born leaders, but must instead invest hard work to learn and achieve their goals. She vowed then that she’d always strive to avoid dictating to her colleagues, and has kept that promise to this day in her dual role as Deputy Country Director for Pathfinder Ethiopia and Deputy Technical Director of the Integrated Family Health Program.

Kidest’s day is a continuous balancing act.  At her Addis Ababa office, she supervises six people and manages two regional programs; and, at home, she devotes mornings to preparing her 11 year-old daughter and a 14 year-old son for school, and evenings to supporting their studies. “All in all, it’s hard work,” she confesses, but she’s still always ready to do more.

A member of the Implementing Best Practices (IBP) community, Kidest one day saw an email on the community listserv that the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project was accepting applications for an East African Women’s Mentoring Network and jumped at the opportunity. “I wanted to share my family planning and reproductive health knowledge with younger women who were starting their careers, “she explained.

Through the network, Kidest was paired with a Zambian protégé, Namakau Nyambe. The two built their relationship slowly at first by exchanging experiences and sharing their aspirations for personal growth, and then worked up to creating action plans. Eventually, Kidest began to push Nyambe to develop research proposals. ”Namakau is a very hardworking young woman, very dedicated… and an aspiring young woman who will be a very good leader someday,’’ says KIdest, who has already noticed tangible changes in her protégé’s leadership skills and ardently believes she will make a strong mentor herself.

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Being a mentor has also made Kidest Lulu Hagos a better leader. She admits that she has not always been comfortable when approaching new people and starting conversations, but has now started to gain confidence and embrace the idea of being a leader. “It is very important that leaders truly care about the people they are leading and not just the work.  (This means) knowing everyone, knowing their strengths, and knowing where to support them so that they can trust in you,” she advises.

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