Mthokozisi Soko is a young Registered Professional Nurse based in Mpumalanga, working in BroadReach Health Development on the PEPFAR funded, USAID APACE, their HIV/TB treatment and care program in South Africa. At BroadReach, we empower people and change lives, and Mthokozisi is passionate about making nursing the most enjoyable and fulfilling career possible. Mthokozisi joined BroadReach in 2018 as a Cluster Team Lead and is currently a Cluster Team Lead in Nkangala District, Mpumalanga, RSA. His favourite BroadReach value is we are learners because he is always open to learning. As testimony to his leadership abilities, five of Mthokozisi’s team member that he manages have been nominated for our company’s Founders Awards since he has been at BroadReach. Here’s what he has to say:
‘Often, when we hear the word ‘management’ we think of micromanagement, giving orders and expecting people to follow them to the T, but I have found that is not the best way to manage a team. Yes, management is about ensuring that things are done as expected, but good management is about being a good leader.
Leadership and management are often considered to be the same thing. While they both imply a certain set of functions and characteristics, they are not the same. Some managers do not practice leadership, while some people lead exceptionally, even without a managerial title.
I started my nursing journey in 2011 and throughout the past decade, I have experienced vastly different leadership and management styles, not all of them inspiring. I found myself disrespected, unappreciated and “thrown into the deep end” by managers who were supposed to guide and mentor me. During my very first year in the male medical ward, a manager bluntly told me she will never sign my Nursing Procedure file because she didn’t feel like it. I was astonished by those words and many others like it that followed over the years. Because of experiences like that, I vowed that when I become a Nurse Manager / Leader, I would treat those who report to me with kindness, courtesy and respect, because I believe that’s what makes a good leader and inspires people to do the best they can.
My opportunity came during my community service in 2015, when I was delegated to lead a team of community health workers. These are some of the steps I took to ensure that I fulfilled my promise to myself, all those years before:
Rapport: Creating a friendly, harmonious relationship with the people I lead makes it much easier for us to understand one another and communicate effectively.
Therapeutic milieu: A structured environment that creates a safe, secure place for team members and supports their personal growth makes it fun for people to do their work and reduces staff turnover and absenteeism.
Coaching leadership: I found that being collaborative and providing the necessary support -both personally and professionally – affirms to team members that I have their back. This makes it easier for them to relax and do what they do best.
Servant leadership: As a leader I believe in the people I am leading, and allow them a certain level of autonomy to be the best at what they do.
Pace setting: I set ambitious goals and high standards to get my team to work harder and get things done faster, better, and more efficiently.
Visionary leadership: I emphasise the mission, vision and goals of the organisation so that everyone understands why we do what we do.
Situational leadership: I like to believe that I have very strong intuition, which helps me to adapt more easily to the multicultural environment I work in and to improvise according to changing circumstances in a tough competitive market.
Strategic leadership: I have capitalised on the ability to influence others to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the organisation’s long-term success.
I believe these strategies have helped me to guide, mentor, develop and lead my team in a way I wished I had been guided when I was coming up in the ranks. I especially hope that I am influencing future managers to be the best, most supportive leaders they can be too.
We are inspired by Mthokozisi’s growth as a BroadReacher and can’t wait to see how the rest of his leadership journey unfolds. But we aren’t the only ones who think he’s a great manager. Below is a testimonial from one of his team members:
Mthokozisi has shown exceptional leadership and management quality throughout his career as a Professional Nurse. He has managed not only to lead people in an extraordinary way, but also to inspire people to be the best at what they do. I think he has created a new leadership style – Motivational leadership. (And if such a leadership style exists, then he has amplified it!) His leadership style was also demonstrated during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – I have never seen a nurse who remained cool and calm like Mthokozisi in such a way that everyone in the sub-district he supports (eMalahleni) were depending on him and he was there for every single person, whether they were members of staff or members of the community.