Leadership Qualities


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Paper Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. An Overview of Riverbank savings and Credit SACCO
  • Leadership Qualities of the CEO
  1. Visionary
  2. Integrity
  3. Inspirational
  • Assertiveness
  • Care for People
  1. Communication and Openness
  2. Rewarding
  3. The CEO Leadership Style
  • Conclusion


Leadership refers to a process whereby a person influences others to attain a common goal. The aim of this paper is to show the various effective leadership qualities and their effects as used in the organization. It starts by identifying an organization that has a leader who exhibits the effective leadership qualities and styles. It describes the history of the organization and its achievements under the leadership of the leader. It then explains the leadership styles of the leader and how he applies them. It also expounds on the effects of each of the leadership styles in the organization. This has been done by explaining the results observed in the organization, which provide the relationship between the management and the employees. It ends by summarizing the main leadership styles and the overall impact (Northouse, 2009).

An Overview of Riverbank Savings and Credit SACCO

Riverbank is a micro-finance institution in East-Africa in the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi and was started in 2000 as a self-help group. The Micro-Finance industry in Kenya is rapidly growing; currently it has over 60 institutions. These include wholesale and retail MFI’s, microfinance banks and development institutions. These institutions serve over 6.5 million clients and have an outstanding loan portfolio of over 310 million dollars. When Riverbank started it had only seven members who loaned to each other based on trust and type of business. The venture has grown over the years and currently it has a membership of over five thousand (AMFI, n.d).

Today it not only provides loaning services to its members but also offers insurance services as well as keep savings. Under the leadership of the Mr. Sam Odhiambo, the company’s CEO, the SACCO has been focusing on improving the lives of the economically disadvantaged people in the society. This has led it to offer loans not based on collateral but on client’s character, the business’ cash flow and loan conditions. At the top of the leadership structure is the board of governors, followed by the chief executive Officer, then the departmental managers. The managers head their respective departments which include Sales and Marketing, finance and Accounting, Information Technology and Loans and Accounts Management Departments (Riverbank SACCO, n.d).

Leadership Qualities of the CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of Riverbank Credit stands out as a leader for his excellent leadership qualities. He has steered the company from a membership of seven back in 2005 to now that it has over 6000 members just within the capital city and its environs. He has able to make decisions that have seen the company change its operations, making it the leading multi-sector SACCO in Kenya. Most micro-financial institutions ran bankrupt especially during the 2009 recession, the company emerged stronger and gained more market share. These successes are attributed to the leadership qualities of the CEO which are explained below (Riverbank SACCO, n.d).


A good leader must have a clear sense of purpose of where he wants to lead his followers. He must also be able to communicate the vision clearly his followers so that they may understand where they are required to go. They should also be made to understand their role in achieving the vision. A great leader should be able to work towards achieving the vision as well as direct the actions of the team towards the goal. Mr. Sam Odhiambo the CEO stands out as a forward-looking person because he has cultivated the habit of planning in the organization. Every morning he challenges employees to write down what they were planning to achieve at the end of the day. He then asks them to do a weekly evaluation of their accomplishment based on the set targets (Adeniyi, 2007).

Due to his visionary leadership the company has been able to determine the market trends and made appropriate adjustments in time. For instance, he was able to identify a potential market in the middle and low-income sectors since most banks were reluctant to offer loans to these sectors due to their inability to secure collateral. He then changed the companies operations to focus on the economically disadvantaged, whereby the SACCO offers loans without collateral. In fact, the mission of the company was changed hence it read “striving to become the leader in financial services to the economically disadvantaged”. This was done after he observed that most Kenyans where entrepreneurial yet they lacked start-up capital to achieve their dreams (Stronge, Richard & Catano, 2008).


This refers to a high level of moral reasoning as well as ethical awareness. A leader needs to be trustworthy and honest so that he cannot allow unethical behaviour to be carried out under his watch. It requires that the person should be willing to take ethical actions even if such actions might be expeditious to the organization or its members (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2003). Riverbank’s CEO has in many occasions found himself in situations that involve ethical dilemma. However, in most cases he has opted for the ethical option. For instance, when the organization introduced cloud-computing technology customers repaying their loans ended up paying amounts exceeding their required figures. This error occurred because of miscalculation by the company employees because they were still adapting to the new system. He ordered that the excess amounts be refunded, yet the customers were not even aware of the error (Davis, 2010).

This earned the company a good reputation since most micro-finances are associated with swindling off customer’s savings and burdening clients with unfair loan charges. In fact, he is regarded as the chief ethical officer in the organization. Though this is not an official position he has earned the title due to his honesty when dealing with disputes. For instance, he is always willing to admit when he is wrong. A case in point is when he helped in the introduction of a new method of computing loan charges which was penalizing clients who delayed in repayment. The method led to conflicts between the clients and the marketing officers who were explaining to the clients. When the method failed he was quick to absolve the marketing team and owned the mistake. This has increased the employee’s commitment in the organization (Ciulla, 2004).


An effective leader is one who is able to inspire and influence his followers to achieve a certain goal or objective. People are always seeking to be inspired and they will follow a leader who is inspiring even if he has no other leadership traits. This is opposed to being bossy and driving fear into people to make them accomplish an objective. It means being able to paint the resultant picture if the task at hand is accomplished. Enabling the followers to understand how their efforts in to the job will change the world. The CEO at Riverbank is an inspirational person. It is seen by his ability to inspire his employees to work passionately toward the organizational goals. He always challenges them to make a positive impact in the world and suggests that Riverbank is the avenue through which each of them can do so (Bell, 2006).

He continually presents to the employees’ real life stories of clients whose lives have changed after dealing wit Riverbank. He always acknowledges that they contribute towards change in the organization. This has in turn inspired workers to employ an extra effort not for pay but to satisfy customers. For instance, marketers organize private appointments with their clients who want extra explanation on the company’s products. This has in turn resulted into increased customer care at no increased financial cost to the company. Customer satisfaction has also increased as shown by the increased positive customer feedback (Rees & Spignesi, 2010)


This refers to the ability to outline the expectations clearly, hence avoiding any misunderstandings. In order to attain the required outcomes a leader must be assertive. At times leaders will be required to use their assertive qualities to getting things done as expected. Followers are likely to take advantage of unassertive leaders because such leaders will not be firm on a given position. Some followers might try to get away with mistakes because they know that the leader can be easily convinced against his position (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2008).

Mr. Sam Odhiambo knows how to be assertive with moderation when necessary. He understands that his employees consider him as understanding and they will occasionally try to carry out activities that are not in line with the organizations policies and aspirations. Therefore, the CEO always intervenes by clearly stating the position of the organization. For instance, there is a time he discovered that marketing officers were not going for fieldwork in the afternoons; instead, they were attending to their private commitments. They explained that they had covered there areas in the morning sessions. The CEO categorically stated that that was against the company’s requirements. He went further to assign each marketing officer to a collection officer to be collecting loan repayments from customers in the afternoon. This was not well received by the marketing officers because they took it as an unfair recommendation. However, after two weeks of implementation the marketing officers were serving the clients diligently. This was because they did not hurry through the marketing activity to get a free time in the afternoon (Clark, 2003)

Care for People

Caring leadership is an important ingredient because followers will only be caring if their leader is also caring. As the leader demonstrates his genuine concern for others, he will win the loyalty of his followers and they will in turn be committed to his goals. In an organization care for people involves showing respect to employees no mater the level, being committed to the growth and development of workers, and not making unrealistic demands and focusing on empowerment of employees rather than control. This will improve relations between the leader and the his followers (Wilson, Lenssen & Hind, 2006).

The CEO has shown concern for his employees in many occasions, whereby he has gone out of his way to find out how the employees are doing. For instance, there was a time when my performance at work was going down drastically, he therefore got concerned and asked me for a date in one of the weekends. I met him in one of the hotels I town, where I found him waiting for me. He then asked me in a polite way to tell him whether there was something that was disturbing me. Amazed by the level of kindness, I opened up to him and told him that my father was seriously sick and had been admitted in hospital. He offered to come with to the hospital to visit him and promised to foot half of the medical bill. Later I learnt that he had done similar acts to other employees when they were in problems. This has in turn increased the relationship between the employees and the CEO; therefore, they are always willing to share anything that affects their job with him (Dimock & Devine, 1994).

Communication and Openness

This is whereby information is passed to the required person as and when required. It is an important aspect of leadership because the followers need to be updated about what is taking place and the direction the leader is taking them. This includes crisis communication, whereby the leader informs his followers in times of problems about what has happened, the effects and what actions are to be taken. Communication also helps the followers to feel as part of the project. This is because they are aware of what is happening around them, what is required of them and their contribution. In addition, the leader must be open to divergent views to promote communication (Miller, 2008).

At Riverbank, the CEO has instilled the spirit of two-way communication, whereby suggestions are always welcomed from all directions. He has instituted mechanisms through which the employees can be informed about what is happening and the employees can air out their concerns through the same avenue. For instance, there is a daily briefing meeting in each department in the morning before anyone starts working. Through these meetings communications from the CEO are passed to the employees by the departmental heads. At the same time the employees can ask questions as a follow up to their queries to the CEO. Reports are then taken to the CEO about what took place at the meeting. No employee can be penalized for saying anything in this meeting provided it is not offensive. The CEO also encourages the employees to ignore protocols when there is any sensitive thing that need his urgent attention. These measures have increased trust between the employees and the CEO and other leaders as well. This is because the employees are assured that they will not be punished for their right to information (Denhardt, Denhardt and Aristigueta, 2002).


            This is whereby a leader gives credit where it is due. Reward power has an effect on performance expectations as well as achievement of goals (Sosik, 2004). A leader should be able to use rewards appropriately to acknowledge the followers when they do well. This includes praise, promotion, recognition, salary increase or bonuses. Therefore, when targets are met or exceeded the leader should be able to spread the fame to the members of the organization who contributed. This makes the followers to feel good about them and motivates to work even harder. This is because they know that better performance will translate in more rewards. They also perceive their leader as trustworthy because he does not attribute all the success to himself (Manning & Curtis, 2002).

The CEO has also cultivated a culture of magnanimity whereby he always recognizes good performance. Top among the efforts is the top performer’s party that is always held to recognize the departments that meet their targets after every three months. In such parties, the most outstanding performers are given rewards which can be money or any other form of reward. Sometimes the CEO walks around the organization unnoticed to catch employees doing tings right. He then praises them and/or recognizes them in the briefing meeting. The CEO instituted a promotion policy whereby employees are promoted on merit. Therefore, those who perform better have a higher chance of promotion than others do. The rankings are done through system whereby the employees earn pints for excellent performance. This has motivated employees to work harder and better so that they may earn more points and stand a chance of being rewarded (Lussier and Achua, 2009).

The CEO Leadership Style

From the above description of MR. Odhiambo’s leadership qualities, it is clear that he uses a blend of various leadership styles. First, he uses participatory style, whereby he involves the employees in setting organizational goals. For instance, when he asks each employee to set his monthly targets and align them to the organizational goals. He also has an advisory leadership style, whereby he gives a tentative decision to his employees and invites suggestions for change. The daily briefing meetings at the departments show this (Meyer, 2008).




The CEO of Riverbank stands out as a leader who has a management style that seeks to involve his followers in decision-making. The level of involvement differs depending on the circumstance and the issues at hand. He has various leadership qualities and each time he applies them he considers the wellbeing of the people as much as he targets the organizational goals. For instance, he uses inspiration instead of force, reward instead of punishment, communication and openness instead of secrecy and intimidation and care for people instead of only focusing on organizational goals. This has minimized resistance to change, instilled commitment to organizational goals and cultivated a sense of belonging in the organization. The good relation in the organization has led to satisfaction of employees, which has led to increased satisfaction of clients. This explains the increased market share growth from 2005 when the organization had seven members to over 6000 today.

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