Darlington Kabatende: Regional Director, Jibu
Shifting from individual contributor to people manager, building win-win relationships with franchise owners, and empowering local leaders to adapt business models
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Darlington Kabatende from Rwanda. Darlington is a Regional Director at Jibu where he oversees a network of locally-owned franchises that provide safe drinking water, clean cooking fuel and other essential products across Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Kenya. He previously held sales and operations management roles at ZOLA Electric and Unilever.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Darlington:
Shifting from individual contributor to people manager requires that you pass on some of your skills to others: Early in his career, Darlington identified and developed his skills in sales while pursuing a side hustle. He eventually brought this skill into his full-time role. When he was then given an opportunity to manage a team, he found himself needing to develop others through training and shadowing. While he was talented at sales himself, he knew the only the way his responsibilities and impact were to grow was if he upskilled the team under him. During this transition, he learned to identify the strengths and weaknesses of team members, putting them in roles that leverage their strengths, and accepting that some people will inevitably drop off if they can’t keep up along the way.
Build win-win relationships with franchise owners by aligning expectations and incentives: Jibu operates a franchise model that empowers local entrepreneurs to run branded water and product distribution outlets. In his role, Darlington is charged with making sure all of their franchises are thriving, but also finds himself needing to hold them accountable to brand standards and financial goals. Their use of an agreement to help guide and manage the relationship has been crucial. So has careful screening of prospective franchise owners to ensure the right entrepreneurial yet humble mindset.
Empower local leaders to adapt business models to their context: Darlington has overseen Jibu’s operations across a number of countries. In this role, he must balance leveraging the company’s learnings and best practices while also adjusting their model to local context. They do this by empowering local entrepreneurs and spending considerable time working alongside them to ensure that all of the relevant best practices are effectively carried over.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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