12 August 2016

True leadership should be about people’s needs

Many people attest to being good leaders, but when their footmarks are benchmarked against standard practices, often glaring evidence of non-compliance comes out prominently, blowing off all their credentials.

While leadership stands tall as the most treasured and most desirable asset in managing and taking society forward, it also stands out as the world’s biggest challenge ever. It has eluded the world so much that it is directly responsible for nearly all strife around the world to-date. Poor leadership is a commonplace, good leadership is a very rare commodity, while perfect leadership is definitely difficult to come by.

Leadership is a set of skills that enables one to take charge of and be able to steer society towards its set goals. It involves insight into society, its doctrines and aspirations; and foresight on the realisation of those aspirations against the terrain therein. Insight and foresight alone is known to be futile in guaranteeing good leadership. Integrity is a vital component of leadership which is pivotal in enabling a leader objectively employ his skills and exercise his wisdom to gauge vice and virtue, right and wrong in management of society.

Good leadership, therefore, can only be determined by the degree to which a leader commands the leadership skills, the diligence and honesty with which he exercises his leadership functions.
Leadership is designing ladders essential in carrying the society forward. It is about building systems, but good leadership is not gauged merely on building systems and institutions, but more significantly, by the integrity with which it empowers the institutions to execute their respective mandates.

Leadership is power. Power has great influence on our inner self, which determine our behaviour and actions. The tendency to allow the power we hold to influence our character directly constitutes corruption, a vice so synonymous with leadership.

Leadership is about people. People dimension in leadership is the centre piece around which the aspirations of the society spin, and so should the leadership. Paying adequate attention to the people dimension, which constitute human rights observance, and mentorship of those to take over the mantle of leadership is paramount for any leadership worth the name. This has however proved to be both a paradox and a hoax even in societies with professed good leaders.

The pillar of good leadership rests in its democratic hospitality to alternative view points, including those which may not be in consonance with its own. Cultivation of climate conducive for diversity of ideologies is a culture and characteristic of good leadership. This practice is miserably absent in many purported good leaders.

Monopoly and patronage in leadership breed blind following and blind loyalty – ’the yes men’ even among some elite, which degenerates into dangerous sycophancy and fanaticism. This bad trait is indicative of manipulative, suppressive political culture that starves its subjects.

Rocking systems is necessary in spurring growth. However good a system may appear to be, it may not be the best it can be yet. Challenge is the basis of evolution necessary for growth, and should not be seen as disruption. The saying that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is suppressive, is a slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It is a mind-set that assumes and hopes that today’s realities will continue tomorrow in a linear and predictable fashion. Pure fantasy.

In this era, the leaders we desire and deserve should be able to rise to the occasion and challenge of being courageous and conscious not to allow the power vested in them to take control of their thinking systems. In such a ‘subconscious’ state, leaders become captives to the power they hold. They are instead driven and used by the power they are supposed use to manage society. This miscarriage of leadership has often resulted in unnecessary painful, regrettable ugly scenes.

A leader is no better than the image he casts in the eyes of the people he leads. If you think you are a good leader, look for the image you cast in the eyes of those you lead.



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