Annual General Meeting: A Lesson in Leadership

“To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence […] When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!” – Lao-tzu

Many times, organisations tend to neglect the importance of leadership when compared to efficient management. A Manager and a leader possess fundamentally different natures. The first strives for stability, short-term financial goals, with a limited vision to the future; clouded by constraints and reacting to day-by-day changes. While a leader sets the direction, follows up on growth opportunities, and creates change while inspiring his/her followers. Managers facilitate, leaders interact.

(This blog is about the moment a new employee said to himself “this is my future team”.)


Once a year, on the last Friday of October; Marcus Donald People (MDP) hold the Annual General Meeting (AGM); marking the final day of their financial year and the beginning of the next one. After about a week of working at MDP I had the privilege of having a seat designated to me in the meeting. I went into the meeting expecting a casual team get-together; but I was yet to be surprised. What started as a normal AGM (Tea, biscuits, dinner plans, and a lot of chitchatting), very quickly turned into a statement of goals and aspirations for the future- It turned personal. When most managers would start an annual meeting with a summary of annual results and setting objectives for the next financial year; MDP’s team leader, Bobby chose a different approach: He chose Honesty.

 “I was open about it since my first day in the role- I have no idea how to be a ‘team leader’, but I will learn”

Radiating confidence, he followed the statement by making sure everyone knows that he is the man for the task. He presented a small profile about each and every team member, using images that in his eyes represent their personality. This marked the first stage to team bonding. To an outsider, it would look like an entertaining team-building exercise. Though, for the people in the room, it meant one thing: ‘I have your back’.


Catching people by surprise, Bobby wanted to show that even though he was new to his role; he knew his people, their ambitions and who they really are. One by one, Bobby declared the future to come for everyone to know: “You will have the wedding you always wanted without settling for anything else” he demanded, “I want you to get the recognition you deserve… I know how much you put in” and so it continued. It was not a business meeting anymore, nor an annual get together. It was a family gathering- a final preparation before hitting the outside world by storm.

Nowadays the trend implies that millennials cannot work for the same organisation for more than a few years or even months; that their professional career is not their main motivation. But what happens when you get to share and grow your career with more than colleagues- with family? There is an old saying that states “family comes first”, and where that applies: a family’s success depends on the collective rather than the one. My achievement is the team’s happiness, and our collective success is my pride.

But how does that relate to leadership? You must be asking. Well, it is leadership. The same style of leadership, which great leaders in the likes of Steve Jobs, Martha Lane-Fox, and Richard Branson showed: it’s called Transformational Leadership!

Transformational leaders bring change, through enhancing employee engagement, and thus create a unique opportunity for an organisation’s growth through mutual collaboration and shared values. Transformational Leadership is having the strength to:

“Challenge followers to take greater ownership for their work, and create a sense of affiliation with the organisation and its future development.”

At the end of the day, business success and growth may not be about the working hours, rewards, and dress codes as much as it is about obtaining a clear-cut mindset that applies to every level of the organisation. Shared commitment, trust, and setting challenging goals seem to be the building blocks to development, to the future. Although the people at MDP have different individual goals and ambitions- they all share the same dream when it comes to their work place. To help each other succeed, grow, and become the future of Marcus Donald People.

To state that the goals set by MDP are ambitious, would be an understatement at best. But, only a week after joining the company I am confident when saying that I would put my bet on the people, their dreams, and above all their trust in each other.

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