Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries
Six Lessons in Leadership: Experiences of a Fisheries Expert and Academic Leader
Leadership is about “strategic thinking,” which is not “a science, or an art or skill,” and is not necessarily taught but is said to be “the product of phromesis—practical wisdom which has three ingredients: intelligence, experience and goodness” (Adair 2002).
[Strategic thinking] is always forward-looking, concerns action and is the kind of thinking that leads to wise choices or decisions on what course of action to pursue. It is concerned with the important, rather than the trivial or mundane (ordinary), and the long-term as opposed to the short term issues. [From Adair 2002.]
Strategic thinking has been key for me to successfully run the numerous leadership positions that I hold and have held over the years. Currently, I am a professor of aquaculture and fisheries at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), a Michigan State University (MSU) Robin Welcomme Fellow, and president of the Pan African Fish and Fisheries Association. I am also director of the Africa Centre of Excellence in Aquaculture (AquaFish) and technical coordinator of the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Development (AUDA-NEPAD)/Southern Africa Network on Biosciences (SANBio) Regional Fish Node (RFN) at LUANAR. Over the past 17 years, I have held several administrative positions at the university. I was head of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Science Department (2003–2004) and rose to the position of vice principal of Bunda College, University of Malawi (2004–2010). When Bunda College was transformed into a university in 2012, I was the first deputy vice chancellor of LUANAR (2013–2017) and contributed to its rapid expansion from approximately 1,800 to about 10,000 students by 2017. In the six lessons about practical wisdom that I am sharing in this vignette, successful leadership is engraved in seven words: mentorship, planning, teamwork, boldness, persistence, reflection, and learning.