The Corner Stone of Leadership
Leadership involves at least 14 effective leadership behaviours: supporting, consulting, delegating, recognizing, rewarding, motivating, managing conflicts and team building, developing, clarifying, planning and organizing , problem solving, informing, monitoring, representing, and networking.
- “Successful leaders have the intrinsic ability to have others in a group to accept and follow their directives or command. This ability takes a strong, dominant extrovert personality and oodles of charisma. Studies have shown that these are psychological and character traits that the person who emerges into adulthood from adolescence will demonstrate for the rest of their life”.
- "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been", Henry Kissinger once said.
- In the words of Margaret Thatcher, "Being a leader is like being a lady, if you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren't" .
Some people argue that leaders are born with the necessary qualities which, when honed through nurture brings about success. Others share the view that leadership, like many other similar characteristics, can be learned and developed through life. Whether leaders are born or made, there is the undeniable truth that Africa's biggest problem today lies with lack or availability
of born or made leaders. The leaderships of Africa are so removed from the people that they are looked upon as foreigners. “They are driven by self-interest, so excessive that their peoples' interests are forgotten — hardly different from the colonial masters" (John Hayford). Why is leadership the major problem with Africa?
The importance of leadership has since the origin of man been recognised. For example the scripture dating back more than 2000 years states “Without leadership a nation falls”. It goes further to prescribe the conditions for effective leadership:
“A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap”.
The devil has truly figured out ways to lure African leaders into his trap – perhaps the root of the African leadership curse. There are many instances where African citizens with “most impeccable credentials and a track record of personal integrity and credibility become so inept or/and squander their credibility so quickly once they emerge at the helms of affairs in the public domain” (Aina).
The good news is that this curse can be broken. There is much to learn today about leadership from a living legend such as President Mandela. President Nelson Mandela is one of the most respected and revered leaders of our time, a role model to presidents and clergy and the darling of the common man. US Ambassador Joseph observes that President Mandela’s influence came from: (a) the power of his personality, (b) the elegance of his humanity, (c) the loftiness of his ideals, (d) the wisdom of his judgement, (e) the calmness of his temperament and (f) the power of his commitment
to the well being of others. Therefore President Mandela, a world citizen with fully coded genes of African origin, has demonstrated that Africans are born with leadership qualities and can make great leaders if and when they choose to.
President Khama of Botswana and his predecessors are also an encouraging reference point in Africa. They have committed themselves to building the social and economic infrastructures such as schools, hospitals, roads, harbours, airports, rail lines, telecommunication, silos and irrigation facilities. Today the people of Botswana enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Africa (Editor Business, Education & Opinion).