From Leader to Servant Leader: A Catholic Nun's Journey

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Ruth uses skills she learned in ASEC programs to be a role model and servant leader in her community.

Newly professed in 2007 as a Sister of the Missionary Congregation of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary (MCESM), Sr. Ruth Nasimiyu Makonge was given the role of Administrator for the congregation's Nursery School. She worked in this role for five years, but says she lacked skills to perform her role effectively. She recalls,

"I had no skills of being an administrator but I was only working on the guidance of my superiors and the sisters. I found there they were telling me what to do because I did not have any skill.

That was until she joined ASEC's Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program. The SLDI program provides Sisters with technology, administration and finance training through one month workshops over three years. Through SLDI, Sisters gain the practical skills and confidence to build strong networks and take up leadership roles in their congregations and communities. Sr. Ruth says,

"...Not until 2012 is when I joined the SLDI. I was sent to work then the very year I joined SLDI. So during that time is when I got empowerment that time is when my capacity was built as an administrator."

After gaining skills through SLDI, Sr. Ruth became a Secondary School Administrator.

She then went on to participate in ASEC's Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program where she studied Leadership and Resource Management at Tangaza University in Kenya.

After graduating from HESA, Sr. Ruth was appointed her congregation’s superior. She used the skills she learned in ASEC programs to create a strategic plan to direct her congregation's long-term goals.

"This program first of all has changed me from just a leader to a servant leader. It has let me know who I am…  It has taught me to help others to do what they want to do so that all can be productive and useful."

Analysis of Sr. Ruth's interview and open-ended survey responses for a research study about Servant Leadership revealed that she most frequently identifies with the dimensions of stewardship, accountability and interpersonal acceptance. These are four of eight servant leader characteristics.

Sr. Ruth expressed her willingness and capacity to assume greater responsibility on an organizational level within her congregation and ministry.

Acquiring skills in leadership, resource mobilization and strategic planning improved her ability to serve as a role model and a steward of the institution. She also described a sense of accountability on interpersonal and congregational levels, mentioning her desire to empower fellow sisters with skills and effectively lead the 45 sisters she is responsible for as a Superior.

Sr. Ruth identified growth in the area of interpersonal acceptance as well. Through interactions with fellow SLDI & HESA participants, she gained a deeper understanding and respect for the differences among individuals, as well as skills in effective communication and conflict management.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Sr. Ruth Nasimiyu Makonge, MCESM

Sr. Ruth Nasimiyu Makonge, MCESM
Profiled in article
SLDI and HESA alumna - Kenya  

Tara Lopatofsky, Ph.D., CCLS

Tara Lopatofsky, Ph.D., CCLS
Senior Program Manager, Monitoring & Evaluation  

Amy Fedele

Amy Fedele
Former ASEC Media & Communications Manager - USA  

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