Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab


A word that has so much meaning in management – whether it’s in the day-to-day running of a company, doing a turn-around job at a company and taking it in a new direction, or times of crisis. Leaders and Managers need both self-belief and believers

Yes, the word is believe, and it means: “accept that something is true, especially without proof.” This blog will focus on believers, assuming that leaders and managers believe in themselves already

Now on to the believers and believe dynamics at the organisation – to believe and give your energy, mental and physical, especially when there is no proof that what you believe is true, is a big ask. Right? It takes lots of courage and believing to follow the said word by managers. It’s ultimate trust in people and what they believe, right or wrong.

And the above is what all managers and leaders, and we must add politicians, perceive to be the ideal situation when dealing with the shark-tank atmosphere at the helm of most organizations. Few managers, if any at all, want to lead teams that don’t believe.

But to ask people to believe leaders, without providing them any evidence of validation of what leaders are asking them to believe, requires a number of things. True mettle in leadership, excellent technical knowledge, assurance that you have done it before and nothing can stand in your way to deliver what you promise, and we should also add, a bit of luck.

Dealing with the believe-dynamics in management

Leaders and managers know so well that attaining total belief in them and their ideas, is certainly not impossible but hard. There will always be dissenters, half-hearted believers and those that believe on teams

Dealing with each of the above three groups requires different people management strategies – ultimately, it boils down to the individual style of the person at the helm and the polity of the institution. So, in effect, individual leadership style and organization context, determine the believe-diplomacy at organizations and how it impacts the subjects asked to believe and ultimately, the institution and its fortunes.  Whichever way you put it, believe-dynamics impact the fortunes at an institution and ultimately, the success or failure of a leader

And like we have done in the recent past, to explain the belief-dynamics at companies, we draw heavily on lessons from the ongoing Brexit melodrama in the UK. Indeed, Brexit continues to be excellent fodder for management and OD. practitioners

When Boris Johnson became British Prime Minister – he did one thing on his first day in office. Borris got rid of all the ministers that didn’t believe in Brexit and appointed to his cabinet, individuals that believed in Brexit. He did the latter with utmost speed, sending the signal to politicians that he will work, but only with people that believe.

In direct contrast to Boris’s style and choice above, Boris’s predecessor Theresa trip points were to do with surrounding herself with individuals that didn’t believe in the number one task the British people asked of their leader – getting the country out of the EU as per the wishes of the majority at the time. And for failing to do the latter, she paid with her premiership

Boris wasn’t about to repeat the same mistake – now, whether he will deliver Brexit or not, only time shall tell.

Like Boris, should we always get rid of those that don’t believe in our agenda? Could the dissenters be deployed to the leader’s and organization’s advantage, but avoid what happened to Theresa above? How do leaders effectively manage those in between the two groups?

Of course – every manager or leader wants to preside over teams that believe in them, their ideas and will do all they can to implement the leader’s views on the ground. But leaders don’t always have that luxury. And matters believe are not always black or white; there is a grey patch, as expected

From the Effectiveness lab, we share below, practical tips for the believers, non-believers and those in between:

  • If as a manager or leader, you have the mandate to both define and deliver strategic outcomes – then, put up a fight if you don’t believe in what’s on the table
  • However, if your job is not to define but deliver strategy, and you find yourself on the non-believing or in-between side, consider your options outside. Many of the Secretaries of State (read ministers) that didn’t believe in Brexit, voluntarily quit, before Boris sacked them. After all, they knew they couldn’t influence the strategy of the new leader – he was to deliver Brexit without any ifs or buts  and they on the other hand wanted to remain in the EU
  • Of course, please don’t confuse believing with blind follower-ship. Effective believe situations build-in space for: constructive criticism, disagreement, critical feedback, acceptance of fault and error, individual reflection, corrective course action, etc.

Is your believe situation optimized?


2 responses to “Believe!”

  1. A good people management piece to read, Apollo! The biggest task for all Leaders here is to define belief. There is a big difference between believers and followers. At organizational level, some staff would follow without necessary believing – especially given the “tone at the top”. Take a careful study of Uganda’s Political parties – do you think all subscribers believe in their party philosophies? Between me and you many of them are followers for purposes of tapping into the money distribution sacks to put bread on table. Let’s get out of politics and talk O.D, I have seen Departmental Directors who do not believe in the Organization Strategies, let alone not being aware such strategies are written down in the strategic plan document and lying somewhere.


    1. Dear Seddu – thanks for reading the blog. I like your political analysis bit….


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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