By Adjetey Emmanuel
Africa is really endowed with numerous natural resources but yet this ‘rich’ continent is mendicant to the western countries. The challenges presenting themselves to the African Continent are uncountable. These challenges could particularly be ascribe to the mode of leadership practice by most African leaders.
In Africa, leaders or governments are expected by their followers or subjects to provide adequate security and safety, open political participation, sustainable economic prospects and large measure of human development. But what do these subjects and followers get in return? These prospects turn to be the otherwise. Are leaders of Africa really conscious of leadership?
In these ongoing disclosures the media and the general public of the various Africa countries incessantly characterize these leaders as bad and self-centered leaders while some even question their competence and credentials. Do leaders who lose their focus incompetent leaders? Leaders who lose their focus are not necessarily incompetent leaders. But they somewhat lose their way and social bearings, often yielding to mischief in their tracks. I believe only few people go into leadership roles to cheat or perpetrate evil, nevertheless we all have the capacity for actions and inactions we deeply regret unless we stay anchored.
SELF-CONTEMPLATION: A TRACK TO LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Leadership is not meant for faint-hearted and indecisive people but rather action driven and decisive people. So, before any African takes on a leadership role they should ask themselves, “Why do I want to lead?” and “What’s the intention of my leadership?” These are very easy questions to ask oneself, but finding the real answers to these questions may take period of years. If the honest answers are power, prestige and financial gains, leaders are at risk of relying on external satisfaction for fulfillment. On the contrary, there is nothing wrong with desiring these ostentatious properties as long as they combined with a deeper desire to serve something greater than oneself.
Leaders whose aim is the quest for authority over others unlimited wealth or the fame that comes with success have a propensity to look to others to gain gratification, and often appear self-centered and egotistical. They start to believe their own press (praise singing media). Besides, most African leaders of institutions, they eventually see in their mind’s eye that the institutions cannot thrive without them. That’s one grave weakness of our African leaders!
THE GLOOMY SIDE OF LEADERSHIP
Many African leaders get to the top by imposing their will on others, even destroying people standing in their way. When they get to the top they possibly will be suspicious that others are trying to knock them off their footstall. Sometimes they develop an imposter complex demeanour, caused by deep insecurities that they aren’t good enough and they may be unmasked. To prove they aren’t imposters, they drive so hard for perfection that they are incapable of realizing their failures. When confronted by their subjects and followers; they convince themselves and others that the problems are neither their fault nor their responsibility. Ridiculously, they look for ‘whipping boys’ to blame for their problems. Using their authority, personal appeal and communication skills they compel people to accept these distortions causing the entire organisation to lose touch with reality.
At this phase of the leadership, leaders are very vulnerable to committing big mistakes, such as breaching the law or putting their organizations’ existence at risk. Their distortions convince them they are doing nothing wrong, or they rationalize that their deviation are acceptable to accomplish a greater good.
Leading is a very difficult task. There is no way any leader can avoid the unremitting challenges of being responsible for people, organisations, consequences and uncertainties in the environment of leadership. Leaders who move up have greater freedom to control their destinies but they also experience increased pressure from the outside. Leaders can avoid their pitfalls by devoting themselves to personal development that will help shape their potentials and ability. This requires reframing their leadership from not falling as head to tail just like the people they lead. This process requires deep thought and introspection because many people get into leadership roles in response to their ego needs. It enables them to transition from seeking external satisfaction by making meaningful contributions through their leadership.
The renowned Leadership expert, speaker, coach, and author Dr John C Maxwell said in his book the ‘21 irrefutable laws of leadership’ that; “Leaders require seasoning to be effective. If you continually invest in your leadership development, the inevitable is growth over time, the relationship between growth and leadership: It’s the capacity to develop and improve one’s skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”
The writer is a freelance journalist