“It is a mark of respect to fire that the pot sits on top of it without complaining; it is with the same regard that fire does not set the pot ablaze, but only cooks its content.” – Nigerian proverb
You have found yourself in a position, with authority; therefore, you have power and you are power; and power is justice. And justice, as Gary Haugen puts it, “is doing for others what you would want done for yourself”’. As another person summarised it, “justice is what love looks like in public”. What this means is that you have been given the momentum to improve the world; to make life smile at itself. It is a greater privilege that demands you become a better individual, who does not look the other way when challenges arise, but finds out what must be done and does it in the most ethical way to ensure our society is in a harmonious balance.
Where you have found yourself is not for the fainthearted, neither is it for the bully or the brute. It is for those who are eager to educate themselves and all others of the need to reach an understanding on issues, in order to create a balance that allows life to flourish. Leadership is an infinitely precious duty to refresh and warm the aspirations which restore life and living to the natural balance of the ideal. It is tasked to unearth the creativity that resides within people, within communities and within societies, in a bid to harness their wonderfulness to ensure that truth, good and beauty dictates the journey of life.
You might have found yourself in a position because of who you are, or because of who knows you. Whichever it is, the office you hold demands that you work to ensure every single human is respected and treated right, irrespective of who they are, and that everyone tolerates the diversity that exists within the boundaries of your authority. That is why you have the laws and rules to help you. They are to be used for ensuring a beautiful balance between our relationships, while helping all of us to be the best that we are capable of.
Leading is not an action rooted to serving a singular interest. Instead, it is meant to serve the cumulative interests which exist within the community or society. That is why it is always proper to engage all of them – first to appreciate their aspirations, and second to understand the relatedness that exists amongst them. We can equate it to making a dish.
You need different ingredients in varying quantities to make it nutritious and tasty. But without an appreciation and understanding of the ingredients, one might make a dish that is uneatable. Your task as a leader is similar to that of the chef. Your output in terms of smell must take our breath away, in a manner that makes people honest and truthful. In taste, it must excite our sense to make us creative and wonderful. And nutrition-wise, it must fill us with goodness to make us whole and joyous.
To lead is to help people to resonate well together. It might take time, but to achieve this it is imperative that you balance the aspirations of the individual with those of the wider society, while ensuring the economic goals are harmonious with the social goals. That balancing act is the key to your success. Too often, too many individuals who are insecure about themselves use the power given them not to enhance wonderfulness, but to suppress it. Sometimes, the suppression might not necessarily be intentional; but it is important that it does not happen, for its presence partially removes from our attitudes the desire to give our best – thereby restricting the flow of wonderfulness, and eventually life as it wanders in the journey of each day.
Regardless of one’s position, we are all tasked to make sense of a changing world. We need to appreciate how the past has shaped the present, and how the present will impact the future. This means our decisions should be devoid of short-termism. Quite often, they direct us to simplistic solutions which score political points instantly and create nightmarish challenges tomorrow.
As a leader, you should develop an instinctual sense for long-termism that is rooted in reality, and also which places your society in the right perspective on the global map. Your inner circle should comprise people who have learned from history and think with its rich, material understanding of human experience. You do not need people who give advice based on fads and trends. They are cancerous cells, whose advice degenerate society.
No leader can flourish without criticism…never! Leaders must learn to use criticism as feedback to improve upon their weaknesses. Understanding that you could be wrong sometimes is essential for a leader’s maturity. Like our fathers’ adage, “the one carving the path cannot see its crookedness”, criticism should be seen as building blocks which make leaders better.
Praise is sweet like sugar – it just excites the tongue and lots of it contributes to decay of the whole body. Criticism on the other hand is like salt; it stings, and then it turns briny and finally burns the tongue. Yet it makes the food tasty and healthy. Like salt, criticism contains all the electrolytes necessary for flavouring and preserving one’s work. It is what the leader needs; like energy to get out of bed invigorated to give his or her best.
As art, leadership must be practiced till one perfects it. You will fail a few times, but when the final picture is drawn it lasts for centuries…
Kodwo Brumpon inspires individuals and groups to aspire to think that which is true, positively respond to that which is beautiful, and nudges them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org