Situational Leadership & Building of Public Institutions

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Uganda and South Sudan Country Representative Anna Reismann led a Huduma Fellowship session focused on the concept of situational leadership and its application in the context of building public institutions. The session valuable insights into navigating the complexities of individuals in public institution building.

When encountering a person, we often see their visible attributes such as language, music preferences, customs, and literature interests. However, many hidden aspects contribute to a person’s identity and behavior.

Anna reiterated the value of understanding the complexity of individuals since each individual possesses a unique set of traits and experiences beneath the surface, which are not immediately apparent.

People have layers of characteristics and experiences that are not immediately evident. It is important to recognize that there are aspects of an individual’s personality, values, and history that are not visible at first glance.

Leaders should aim to understand these hidden dimensions to form a comprehensive perspective of their team members or colleagues.

Fellows were encouraged to refrain from quick judgments, especially when someone’s actions offend them. By taking a step back and trying to understand the person’s perspective, we can develop a more compassionate and insightful view. This prompts a shift towards empathy and curiosity.

Anna Reismann introduced the concept of the cultural iceberg, illustrating culture as having both observable and unobservable components. Observable aspects include behaviors and practices, which are easy to identify. Non-observable components, such as beliefs, values, and deep-seated understandings, are more challenging to discern but play a significant role in shaping individuals and organizations.

Communication involves more than just words. Words account for 7% of the overall message, tone of voice for 38%, and body language for 55%.

Effective leaders need to consider these different facets of communication to understand their team members fully.

While the session emphasized the importance of working on our biases, it acknowledged that stereotypes can also have a functional purpose. Stereotypes can help individuals navigate complex social environments and make rapid decisions. It is therefore essential to strike a balance between recognizing the value of stereotypes and challenging them to promote fair and equitable interactions.