1. Can you please introduce yourself:
§ My name is Martin Ogwang
§ I have been Married to Christine Ogwang for 25 years and together we have 10 children (6 biological and 4 we care for)
§ I work for Africa Renewal Ministries as Programs Director
2. In your very own words, can you tell us who is a leader, and what is expected of a leader?
A leader in my view is one who others look up to for direction. Also one who serves to save people. A leader is therefore expected to reach the destination he is leading people in mind or physically. Leaders should be decisive and bold in their decision and guidance to others.
3. Who is your Biblical model of a leader and why do you say that person is your model?
My Biblical Model of a Leader is Joseph. God called him into leadership from childhood. He had a vision (dream) to lead his brothers and parents right from childhood. Through persecution, God seasoned him to trust God and do right. His ability to understand and interpret personal and leadership visions caused his elevation to positional leadership in Egypt (Prime Minister). When he got to position (of Prime Minister), he was able to help and lead his people who were suffering.
Best and most successful leaders know that they are one from childhood. They have passion and vision of serving and saving their people from childhood (when they are not yet able). When they grow up, they direct their efforts into leadership –serving and saving people.
4. As a person who has been involved in leadership, what are some of the key things that have made you a successful leader?
§ First knowing that I am serving God in all that I do. This makes me not look at the state of the people I am serving, nor wanting to please them, but God. It also makes me not want to get my reward or appreciation from those I lead, but hope to get it from God. It also makes me do all things with the mind that God who is omnipresent, and omniscient is watching – thus no room for deliberate errors or wrongdoing. Depending on God and not personal ability or position is so critical. This caused me to develop a belief that, “ I do not have to be able to be a leader, but God who called me will enable me.”
§ Putting people first and myself later – I have discovered that God puts people in leadership not for themselves, but for the sake of the people He puts to them. My position in leadership is not for my personal aggrandizement, but for helping people. I am employed to leadership because of people’s problems/ needs, that I may offer solutions and direction for them to get saved. My personal needs can be sorted out when I sort out other people’s needs. If I try to help myself first, I get lost into self-seeking, corruption…
§ Being thorough – I look at details of every matter brought to me. I interpret them to get meaning before I make decisions that helps. In my decision, I look at what is right and the best interest of the people and ministry. When I lay my hands on something, I desire thoroughness and excellence. Being thorough and analytical is the exceptional ability that God gives leaders to lead.
§ Building people – When I started my career, I was so independent minded and self-sustained. I could do anything I wanted to do. I felt that I did not need “sluggish” people who would wither delay or deface the quality of my work. So I preferred to work alone. As I continued, I discovered that even if I could do all things, I need to develop others to do the same or better. I started to slow down. I took a teacher and mentor role to help many people I work with, know what I know.
It made my life easier. I am proud to see many people I work with leaders in many countries of the world. I feel proud to hear feedback from them on how they are taking decisions using the principles they picked from me.
A leaders’ success is not in what they have achieved by themselves, but what he achieved through the people he developed.
§ Listening – I learnt that when I listen to people, they also listen to me. When I respect them, they also respect me. This is a critical success factor to my leadership. I spend more time listening to people and they spend more time working. I listen to them when they have a problem they are dealing with, or when they have success to share, or when they have personal issue, or creative idea/ plan to bring on or when I need to make a decision. This fosters unity and hope, which is key to performance and success.
5. Leaders go through challenges, can you please mention some of these that you have gone through, and how they have influenced your leadership?
Organizational conspiracy/ politics has been my biggest challenge. Every organization has its own politics that is deeply rooted in it. Organization culture has a bearing on it’s history (early years of operation). One of the challenges I faced was related to the fight for recognition by people who were in the organization for long (“The historicals”).
Leaders spend so much organization time managing conspiracy, which is a “favor-seeking syndrome”, perpetuated by people who are closer to people with power. These are people whose performance and organization ability is in question.
Through this I learnt not to be defensive, but let the truth reign. Falsehood last just for a while, but truth lasts forever and sets one free.
I also learnt that we need both the “historicals” for institutional memory (testimony) and new breed of people for performance that moved the organization forward. BUT leaders need to give equal attention without bias to both so as to create harmony.
6. Are there any things that have happened in your life as a leader that you regret? Please mention some and the lessons you have learnt
One of the things that happened to me that I regret is when I failed to listen to my heart when making decision.
We advertised for a position of a driver. Many people applied and were shortlisted. We had one guy who performed very well and the people on the panel liked him. Something in me failed to connect with the guy. I felt in me that there could be something he was not revealing. I told the team my feelings about not taking the guy. But they insisted that he was the best and so we should take him. I had powers to say “no”, I had a feeling saying “no”, but I succumb to the leading of other people who were basing on the deceitful performance of the guy. So we hired him. Six months later, we discovered that the guy had forged papers. As I was still contemplating on what to do, he drove me to the bank to withdraw money, which I brought to office for the following day’s workshop. He came back in the night, broke in office and stole the money. The police later confirmed. I regretted why I did not listen to my heart while making a decision.
I learnt that Leaders should always listen to their hearts before they make decisions of any nature. God uses their hearts to give correct judgment. There may be systems and policies, but a leaders heart is equally very important unwritten policy that should be respected. This is called discretionary power.
7. We have talked about Biblical models but I believe you may have other people not in the Bible that are your models. Can you mention one or two? And why do you say they have been your role models.
I have always admired Betty Bigombe and Musa Ecweru. Betty Bigome was a Presidential Advisor for many years. At the height of LRA war, she opted to leave her job and lead a peace talk team that followed Kony to the bush to talk peace. She risked her life for the peace of her people. But God protected her. At that time the war subsided and many people were released by the LRA.
Musa Ecweru was a Resident District Commissioner in Mbarara when the LRA raided Soroti. Since he was a local leader in Teso, he stepped out of his job in Mbarara and came back, mobilized the people to resist LRA with much success. After this event, he was appointed State Minister for Disaster Preparedness.
I like their hearts for the people that are stronger than the feeling for a job or even safety of personal life. I admire the boldness and the charisma to pull people to solve a common problem, I like the selflessness and passion to serve and save. I also admire their ability to identify the problem and identify with the suffering people for a solution. Leadership is people-centered and not self-centered. Leadership is risky and self-less. The reward for leadership comes after achievement (people have been helped) or objectives have been achieved. These are the lessons I pick from those two people.
8. Do you have a mentor? And if you do, how has that mentor been a blessing to you. What advise do you give to our readers.
Yes I have a mentor. I call him my Encourager. He has made me believe in myself. This is the most critical factor in leadership – to know that someone believes in you enough for you to believe in yourself. He has always honestly appraised my plans and reports. I share with him major things I intend to do (both personal and work) and he gives me honest feedback. I also share with him my frustrations and he listens and encourages me. When you are not in a situation, it is easier to see the other side of it. So I encourage all of you to get Mentors to help you see the other side of the situation you are in or going to.
9. Do you have young leaders that you mentor? Can you share that experience please?
Yes, I have three young people that I mentor deliberately. One of them spends more time with me at home. He goes with me to do almost everything I do. I want him to experience my life. Whenever we go for a mission, activity, we set learning point. I then ask him what he learnt from the process, presentation and what he hopes to do for himself.
The second young I assign him tasks monthly. He keeps calling me for help and we meet and review his performance. I encourage him where the task seem to have hurt him. He has started to do very well after being with me for Four years. He initiates task, thinks objectively, goes for it and evaluates. I have seen him pick up other people to mentor as well.
10. What final words would you like to tell our readers about leadership?
Leadership is acquired through experience and passed on through mentoring. Whatever you do in leadership is what you have gone through overtime. But you can replicate yourself through passing on to others.
Time comes in career life when your fulfillment is not in how many buildings, cars, cows you have or places you worked in, BUT in seeing people you mentored do what you taught them and even better.