It is against the recent backlash on a governor of a state in my country that referred to himself as the ”constituted authority” that I was able to fully convince a friend that most African leaders do not really see leadership as a call to serve but more like a pathway to fame and fortune. They either have a twisted understanding of what leadership entails or simply lack the moral fortitude for genuine service especially those with seemingly credible credentials. They seek for power, just for the vainglory and use it as a tool to oppress those they promised to serve.
Mark 10:4… ”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The above is one verse of the scripture that truly captures the essence of leadership. Leadership is service. Service is giving one’s life. Giving one’s life is inspiring and inspiration is influence. When your followers realize your willingness to go the extra mile, they know you care and are inspired to do what it takes to follow your lead and accomplish the stated vision and objectives. When a leader is humble, sincere and has a great deal of empathy, serving comes natural even as these basic ingredients will not just determine how great the leader will be but the three Hs will also be factors that will endear the followers to such a leader.
Humility: leadership is about service. Even the Bible declares in Matthew 23:11 that the one who serves is actually the greatest, but the common low self esteem, troubled childhood and shallow mindedness of most of these leaders fuels their unquenchable thirst for self aggrandizement. What they lack in self esteem and humility, they tend to make up for by stupendous wealth acquisitions and self glorification. A leader will always be a true servant at heart and it takes humility to really lower oneself and sincerely serve.
Honesty: It is a fact that people do not care how much you know till they realize how much you care. Probity and transparency should always be key in every leader’s philosophy. When a leader is truly humble and sincere, accountability will never be an issue. Even when true leaders make mistakes, they are quick to admit and apologize if need be. Because their followers sees their hearts, they are inspired by their ways and many try to live right too, their leaders being worthy role models.
Humanity: Being human is also being able to acknowledge one’s imperfections. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and every good leader tries as much as they can to maximize their strengths and surround themselves with credible leaders that will compensate for their weaknesses. This would also prompt them to show empathy with the individual’s situation and enable them make room for their followers’ weaknesses. They will not be quick to assume, judge or condemn but offer the much needed listening ear and always be sympathetic to the plight of their followers.
Leadership skills can be innate or acquired and cultivated. Whenever, wherever, however a leader emerges. Qualified or lacking the requisite leadership skills, deserving or not deserving, any leader that possesses these three attributes would sure have a clearer shot at greatness.
Happy Democracy day!