Mireille Obama -Leadership Starts with Knowing and Loving Yourself
By Ellen Smith
Born and raised in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Mireille Obama has lived in France since 2010. She has worked as a Human Resources Professional in different International Non and Governmental Organizations in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Niger and the Republic of Congo. Today, Mireille is launching her own business to share her vision and her message, above all for the workplace. The objective is to help people transfigure and give a transcendence to their work and to their life therefore.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur?
Who has been the greatest influence on your life?
Without discussion, my mum and my dad. Both with a lot of love, they shared and transmitted the same values and principles to me, but in a different way and style. They played a neat role in my life. I owe my attitudes in life to my father. My dad was very spiritual and supportive. He recently passed away, on 26 September 2019. He was 74 years old. About ten days before, he was saying to me on the phone, because I was not very well: “Everything that happens is adorable, everything that happens is grace”.
He never rejected me for having done something wrong, or having made bad choices. He worked hard as an accountant, and was trusted by his employers. Actually, I realized that I’ve learned emotional intelligence, work ethic, positive philosophy, and empathy from him. This discovery makes me so proud of him, of them. He always advised me to remain calm, to not worry and maintain my dignity whatever the circumstances. I attribute to him my resilience, patience, hunger for making people feel well, and other values which for me are crucial for living together. Starting with family life: solidarity, unity, empathy, forgiveness, acceptatance of the difference.
I was already 40 years old when one day, he questioned my vision about my sentimental life. That time, my life was just work and study. I was very surprised. It was the first time my father mentionned this aspect of my life with me. My mother tried before, but I was stubborn and didn’t want to talk about it. My father went so softly that I became more receptive and now I’m a mother of two and have a wonderful man in my life.
You are very passionate about women’s empowerment. How are you contributing to this?
Indeed! Contributing to the process of increasing the capacity of individuals, and specifically women, is not only a passion but first of all a necessity. Women deserve to be more confident, to be aware of and embrace their difference, and be conscious of the value that this difference can add in their life and the environment. In this regard, I nourrish and work on different projects to stimulate this confidence and help them discover, reveal and value the skills, the strength that they contain and that are hidden within them.
The first one involves women between 35 and 55, with the aim to help them anticipate and successfully address the crisis of the middle age, and then boost their professional and personal life. The second one concerns women above the age of 40 with the objective to empower and help them reinvent their professional life, or becoming autonomous, change agents, projects builders and success achievers.
I’m also examinating the case of women, spouses of diplomats and expatriates, who are often “unemployed” and have a lot of time. I want to propose to them something to value of what they have inside, during this free time, grow, and prepare themselve for the success of their repatriation.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Upstream, love and downstream, Integrity.
Love as the force, the passion which impulses the leader to trully think and be interested in people, support their growth, their wellbeing, people’s thriving life, their empowerment for making their own decisions.
Love to have a vision and be committed to share this vision. Love to care about what sounds right and has a sense for them, helping them in reaching their goals.
That why in my chapter in the Global Woman Book Project, I stated that leadership starts with love. If someone doesn’t love people, she/he can’t demonstrate committment to issues that really matters to them and be passionated by sharing a vision, showing the way and setting an example. This is where integrity comes out. The leader can’t set an example without integrity, which is honesty, and committment to ethical behavior regardless of circumstances. Along with consistency of declarations and actions, and values. It’s what makes people trust and follow the leader, share their vision, adopt their attitudes, and engage with them.
Mireille is a contributor for the Global Woman Book Project :THE FEMALE LEADERS OF TOMORROW -“A guide on how to become a successful leader”
If you want to know what steps to take to become a successful leader, the book is available in Amazon.