Leadership, yes leadership. What does it mean to be a leader? Does it mean to represent your tribe, clan or personal interests in higher authorities? Does it imply to just receive a huge salary and increase your pay any time you want without doing anything else? Does it merely mean to sit in committees and pass policies that favor you and the few people you care about? Or does it mean to get a job that will help you become rich quick without caring about your subjects? Well, is leadership all about personal gain?
The Kenyan Case
So many things stand out about the types of leaders that are present in the nation of Kenya. The correct meaning of leadership seems to have disappeared from the minds of the people of Kenya altogether and left them with only rumors to cling on. Just like majority of countries in the continent of Africa and the world, Kenya suffers a large leadership crisis and the need to explore leadership in depth and explain what it is and what it should not be is inevitable. There is an urgent demand that the citizens invest more in leadership development and capacity building among the growing population if a reserve of ethical and integrity guided leaders is to be maintained.
As at today, Kenya has experienced the longest ever strikes in the history of the nation. Just to have a recap, a doctor’s strike towards the end of 2016 that lasted close to 100 days, followed by a lecturers and university workers strike that paralyzed all public institutions of higher learning for 54 days. The university staff and lecturer’s strike only came to an end after promises to the workers unions that were never honored. The failure to honor the promises consequentially resulted in another strike of two weeks barely two months later. As at October 2017, a nurse’s strike had been ongoing for more than 120 days. No efforts to bring the nurses’’ to an end and address the complaints of the health workers had been adopted yet. The leadership of the nation remained mute as though the strike mattered not to them. Not so long before, primary and secondary school teachers had been on strike demanding a pay rise. While the economy got harder for the citizens each day and the tax rates escalated, the public servants’ salaries remained stagnant. The workers, therefore had to go to the roads and demand that their salaries grow at the same rate as the cost of living was rising. Issues of low pay and poor working environments for public servants seemed not to be an issue to the government in Kenya.
In every political rally, bragging of the few achievements made so far had become the order of the day and the fundamentals neglected. Many nations in the world have developed and grown so rich but have not stopped there. They still strived to be better and better every time. It’s a big shame that Singapore and Kenya had their independence in the same year but today Singapore cannot even be compared with Kenya. The two countries are just too far from each other. While Singapore brags of massive developments in many sectors of their economy, Kenyan leaders still have time to boast of things that are not even to be mentioned in public. In every rally done by the ruling party then, the Standard gauge railway (SGR) had always been mentioned as a major achievement. It is true that the SGR is a major achievement made out of a debt that the nation’s grandchildren and great grandchildren will have to pay. Well, but the same thing is still under about 60 percent control of foreigners. The citizens talk of the oil mines in Turkana which are currently 100 percent under foreign control. The control of resources in the country needs to be revived.
Public dept has become, in the recent years, the main funding for all projects in the country. It appears as though every development that is to be initiated should be out of borrowed money. In the recent years, Kenya’s debt has increased tremendously from just a few billions to about six trillion as at March 2018. That is the perception of leadership that exists in the mindset of Kenyans. That every development must be out of borrowed money. Leaders who cannot even consider an iota of economics in their spending decisions. The implication is that all that the citizens pay as tax goes into people’s pockets, and more so to them that sit in the parliament.
The levels of extra-judicial killings have been on the increase since 2010. Even 55 years since independence Kenya has not yet developed a comprehensive way of investigating such killings and bringing to book the involved parties. With CCTV surveillance in all major cities and even towns, mysterious disappearance of prominent people still stands. Of what need is it to use taxpayer’s money to install devices that are not of any help to the nations interests and the wellbeing of the people? Well, does it always turn out naturally that after a prominent person has been “eliminated” that all CCTV footages disappear?
This is what Kenyans have defined as leadership. That while the citizens suffer and die of illnesses in the absence of healthcare, the leaders run to London and India for medical care? That while the sons and daughters of the soil rot in poor education systems, poor schools, dusty classrooms et cetera, the so called royal families take their kids to great international schools so that they receive quality education which they themselves have failed to deliver locally even with the citizens’ own money?
Kenya has gotten to a very critical point that even the way leaders are elected has been corrupted by the very same leaders. People keep crying and shouting everywhere of wanting free, fair and credible elections but are the same people putting too much pressure on the Independent electoral and boundaries commission and lecturing them publicly, and even at times forcing them to announce election results the way they want them and not give the true reflection of the people’s verdict. Of what essence is it to create an independent commission only to deny it the constitutionally defined independence? Of what importance is it to talk in the name of employing technology in election only to come and have it manipulated to favor a few people?
Kenyans keep mourning over corruption. On the streets and in front of the cameras but deep within the people is the devil of corruption itself. A dangerous beast clothed in a sheep’s’ skin! To be honest, all the so-called leaders in the nation have been spotted once or twice on the media talking of how evil and back wayward corruption is. But are they not the very same people involved in it? They are actually a perfect manifestation of a two in one person. The ethics and anticorruption commission, an independent body charged with the responsibility of standing against unethical actions, hate speeches and corruption cases has been turned to a committee that acquaints the people involved in these and clearing their names in the name of no evidence even when it is very clear. Is there need to keep doing investigations even when one is caught red handed? It surprises what exactly the ‘investigation’ is.
If going to London for medication, driving expensive cars, living in the posh estates in great mansions and getting a 6-figure or maybe a 7- figure salary is what is called leadership, then there is a necessity to clarify that Kenya does not have leaders. What the country has are misleaders – to call them who they really are. Leadership is to be defined by how much one sacrifices for the society and not what they reserve for themselves.
It pains to speak in public that even in a country termed to be eighty percent Christian, such social evils still thrive. And the probability stands so high that the very same people involved in these evils are the ones making the percentage so high. Have all Christians not been called to stand boldly against all forms of evil? Of course, yes. If so then why aren’t they doing so? Are they trying to run away from their responsibility? Have Christians not been set aside as a royal priesthood and a chosen generation called to proclaim Gods will among the nations and to them that do not know God so that they may be led to living a life pleasing to God and socially acceptable? Even if Christianity was removed from the equation, It is pretty sure that such ills would still be unacceptable in the society. It would still be necessary to have socially acceptable behavior.
What exactly is leadership?
Leadership is one field that has attracted a lot of studies and research aiming to understand the meanings that different people and societies attach to the term. It encompasses the skills and ability of an individual or organization to guide other individuals or organizations. literature reveals different points of view, differentiating the American and European viewpoints. Whereas the American viewpoint defines leadership as a process of social influence where a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task, the European view paints the picture of a leader as someone who is moved not only by goals but also by the search for personal power. Leadership has been explained by different people on the basis of traits, interaction, function, behavior, power, vision, values and intelligence.
A simplified definition would be: leadership denotes the art of encouraging a team of people towards the achievement of a mutual goal. Therefore, it is of utmost vitality that the so-called leader should have the essential qualities and abilities to inspire the team, and more so be willing and ready to do so. The leader stands not outside the process of achievement of the aims but should actually be part and parcel of the whole process.
Effective leadership is erected on the foundation of ideas, whether borrowed or original but never gets to be realized unless the ideas are communicated to the group in a manner that engages them sufficiently to act in the direction the leader wants them to. The effectivity of a leader is not on how strong and bold they can give dictations to the subjects but rather on how much they mind the wellbeing of their subjects. It is founded on democracy and not dictatorship. There is an urgent need always, that the leader seeks to involve the subjects in decision-making rather than imposing on them decisions which they must follow. An effective leader creates an inspiring vision of the future, offers incentives for people to be part of the vision, manages the delivery of the vision and coaches and builds the team to be more effective in achieving the goal.
Dwight Eisenhower defines leadership as getting someone else to do something because they want to do it. The definition therefore implies that the primary focus is not the demand of the leader to have the objective attained but instead the willingness of the subject to do it. The leader therefore has to see to it that they cultivate the willingness in the subjects so as to drive objectives towards achievement. It is amazing how much correct and ethical leadership stresses on the willingness of the subjects.
Adeoye Mayowa, a leadership manager in Nigeria on the other hand defines leadership as the ability to evaluate and forecast a long-term plan or policy and influence followers towards the achievement of the said strategy. The definition, besides explaining that a leader needs to motivate followers towards the attainment of the set goals, needs to be a long-term planner. The leader must at all times put into consideration the short and long-term consequences of any decision made if sustainable success is to be obtained. The leader should never be an ignorant and arrogant person.
A close examination of the definitions laid herein, it is overt that leadership is actually more about the subject rather than the leader. It is a process of motivating the followers and making them act in their will to attain the common goal. This is the clear and precise denotation of the term leadership.
Qualities of a good leader
Saurabh Gupta (2015) in the paper “The Strategies of Creating a Leader in an organization context in India” explains in depth the characteristics and traits that a leader must possess for effective leadership. Though the article highlights only the fundamental qualities, there are many other traits, all of which must be consistent with the ethical principles of the society. The Bible too exposes the subject of leadership in depth, outlining the essential traits that a leader must posess. The qualities include:
Honesty and integrity
Honesty is marked as being free from deceit or untruthfulness, being sincere. The leader is required first of all to be true to one’s self and in so doing to be an honest individual. Abraham Lincoln earned the tittle honest Abe because of the inherent honesty that was in him. It is of essence therefore that there be not even a single spot of lying in a leader.
The bible addresses honesty very seriously. Sincerity is very important to any person for maintenance of relationships in all levels of interaction be it at one’s home, business or workplace. Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians 8:21 asserts, “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” Colossians 3:9 talks of lying and deceitfulness as being of the old nature which Christ has been taken off while Ephesians 4:25 talks of the person in pursuit of Godliness as being the one who puts off all falsehood and speaks the truth.
The integrity of the upright man guides them but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. (Proverbs 11:13) it is of utmost essence that a leader be a person of unquestionable integrity and honesty in all aspects. A leader has to believe in the truth and seek to walk in the path of truth always. It is only then that it becomes real to have effective leadership. When integrity and honesty are brought into the picture, lies including corruption, cease to be a challenge. Leaders who seek the truth lead their subjects to a path of development and unity
Confidence and boldness.
When a person is of confidence, things work logically. Confidence and a daring spirit has been known historically to drive organizations to places and levels where doubt and fear would never lead. With confidence, leaders are crowned as winners. Psalm 86:7 in the Message Bible says: “Every time I’m in trouble I call on you, confident that you’ll answer.” Psalm 53:6 in the Amplified Bible says: “What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.”
The word confidence appears not once in the bible. It is used in a myriad of context, referring to people, circumstances or even God. The bible encourages us to be confident, not in ourselves but in the strength and might of God. In Philippians 3:3, Paul the apostle admonishes the Christians at Philippi not to put their confidence in the flesh. Success is not based on a person’s heredity, skills or devotion. A successful leader is therefore the one who trusts in the power and enablement that comes from above. God respects not persons and therefore our resumes, and genealogies are not something to be grasped by him. Psalms 118: 8-9 articulates with clarity that, “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Leaders who put their trust in money, government stability and the people they work with will most assuredly be disappointed in the end.
Commitment and Passion
The subjects look up to the leader. The leader therefore needs to be a person passionate and committed to the achievement of the team’s goal. It is obvious that when the subjects see the leader doing the real things and getting their hands dirty, they will too shoot up the best they can offer just because the leader is doing it. There is need therefore that besides the commitment and the passion, the team leader should lead by showing an example. One of the definitions of leadership is to go ahead of the followers in performing.
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:10 that, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. The apostle Paul says in Colossians 3:23 that, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
A leader needs patience, not so that they may tolerate even the lazy individuals, but that they may lead with forbearance and forgiveness as Christ has set the example. Though often overlooked as a vital leadership quality, patience is vital than one may think. Though many people take patient leaders as weak leaders, anyone that believes in such misconceptions deserves not to lead if effective leadership is expected. Patient leaders understand that having a purpose—and sticking to it—is essential if you want meaningful change. Patient leaders are open to change and understand the value in being accessible. Tolerant leaders know that intolerance stunts growth, while tolerance powers it. Patient leaders are independent and straightforward, and in some cases even defiant. Being empathetic is a sign of maturity and confidence. David, having received the leadership anointing at a very tender age, still had to wait for years to claim his position, and in all that he was still patient (1 Samuel 5:4-5)