63 years ago, a generation of leaders, the founding fathers, led a movement to liberate Ghana from colonialism. Ghana’s population at that time was estimated at over 6 million people. And 63 years later, we still fight for freedom, not from chains and shackles, but from a mentality that has kept us marking time, or maybe shoved us forward only a few steps from where our forefathers left off 63 years ago.
In the next 15 years, our population will be over 40 million. Although many projections in population growth have raised questions about the country’s preparedness for the future, we still find a mismatched effort in investments to build solid structures in education, employment and a unique way of life.
As I prepared to write this piece, I pondered over the pivotal points of some of the world’s fast transforming countries. And what I discovered was that their liberation did not only come with a transfer of political power. In spite of their many human errors, what has been more crucial than achieving independence for these thriving nations that we admire so much has been how they yielded the power they fought for.
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was a great development leader as he served side by side Nelson Mandela as Vice President in 1994. He was a prominent force in moulding South Africa post-Apartheid. When he succeeded Madiba as President, he consolidated those achievements and went on to establish himself as a visionary harbinger of Africa’s economic renaissance.
Paul Kagame of Rwanda, has had his issues with the manner in which he has expressed his human rights policies and handled political opposition. But outside his controversial practice of politics, Kagame has been a strong statesman of singular vision and supreme moral courage, leading Rwanda, with limited resources and a looming backdrop of one of the worst genocides in human history to become an African Giant, stable, prosperous and unified.
The fight for independence was always for a greater good; beyond freeing ourselves from slavery, what we do with our freedom is more than relevant. And as we turn 63, we must ask ourselves what contributions we have made in our power to build our nation and improve the lives of each and every citizen.
It is in this context that this article argues, that thought leadership, thought liberation, critical consciousness and ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADERSHIP, should ensure that Ghana & Africa robustly address whatever constraints that limit Africa’s progress.
As Ghana actively works towards becoming an independent economy, we must recognize that this journey demands for not only coherent policy leadership but also a kind of leadership that pursues an approach to contribute to an independent economy. Projections by McKinsey show that Africa will have the largest workforce in the world by 2040, and yet, more than 60 percent of the population still survives on less than GH¢10 a day. Have we underestimated the urgency of an economic revolution? Are we raising leaders who can lead the nation to sustainable economic freedom?
The power of true economic independence is in having our own. The key to wealth creation is KNOWLEDGE. The understanding of how to create the needed wealth. We require more initiatives geared towards the fight for economic freedom.
Today’s global economy demands that leaders create a space for its HUMAN ASSETS to achieve economic liberation, and one key way to do this is to support and partner the STRATEGIC ENTREPRENEUR. The Financial times gives some insight as to what kind of entrepreneur this is. “Strategic Entrepreneurs choose to become entrepreneurs because they see opportunity and they prioritise which products and services to focus on. They are entrepreneurs who will produce world-class, innovative African goods and services that can be sold to the growing African market and eventually to the rest of the world. They will build enduring companies that will create jobs on the continent.”
And knowing this, we need to continue to pivot, consistently learn and adapt how we practise political leadership – a way of life and a practice which is explained in depth in an excerpt from Thimmaiah’s book, Development in Karnataka: Challenges of Governance, Equity, and Empowerment. Political leadership is a complex process by which persons in power influence their followers, civil society and wider public to accomplish societal goals.
Political leaders are necessary for initiating as well as for hastening the process of change in any society. It may be social and/or economic change, constitutional change or political change. In all these processes of change, political leadership plays an important role. Political leaders carry out the process of change by applying their leadership attributes like politically relevant beliefs, socially adored values, generally approved character, wide knowledge and wisdom acquired through learning and experience.
Political leaders formulate a vision of the country’s future. They acquire or develop the capacity to mobilize the people to achieve the common societal goal. Further, the political leaders are expected to have certain attributes in order to be effective as leaders. They should have unimpeachable commitment to the cause or societal goal which they decide to fight for or achieve.
They should be prepared to render selfless service to the people at large. They should have the quality of inspiring their followers and even the common people. They should have patience and perseverance in pursuing the society’s goals, maturity and wisdom for taking sound and timely decisions and exhibit strength of character by setting example and mental toughness to face criticism when found wrong.
In my research, what struck me most was the similarities and commonalities between Entrepreneurial and Political Leadership.
Roebuck (2004) defines Entrepreneurial leadership as one that involves organizing and motivating a group of people to achieve a common objective through innovation, risk optimization, taking advantage of opportunities, and managing the dynamic organisational environment.
Entrepreneur magazine looked at key attributes and listed the following:
Entrepreneurial leaders know who they are and what is meaningful to them. They have a purpose in life and work, knowing why they started their companies and why they lead them. They understand how their businesses fit into their industry and their community. An entrepreneurial leader must have a vision of what his or her business is all about: what it does, how it serves its stakeholders and where it is going. The vision cannot be vague. An entrepreneurial leader must be able to articulate this vision, so that others are inspired and will join together to work together for a common goal.
Entrepreneurial leaders are committed to the people who work for them. They help employees develop their own talents and skills. Employees make a commitment to you, when you make a commitment to them. An entrepreneurial leader also knows that it is essential to help employees grow, so that the business can flourish into the future.
Entrepreneurial leaders always listen to employees, clients, mentors, and others. They makes decisions based not only on their own understanding of the facts and situations, but also based on what they are hearing from a variety of sources. Therefore, they not only create productive workplaces, but they provide clients and customers with the products and services they need and demand.
An entrepreneurial leader is willing to innovate and take risks — in good times and bad. The business climate is always changing. Being flexible and finding opportunities to launch a new initiative, a new strategy, a new product or service is key to business success.
These start commonalities speak volumes. That the path of Leadership may have different incubators, tunnels and channels. One may be political and the other entrepreneurial but the key is to interdependently partner to craft solutions that can change the story of the country. The points of alignment must drive us not divide us. Some of these inter alia are; the greater good, creating an independent economy, building our people and culture, enabling gender parity, pushing into prosperity and of course empowerment for all.
Through hundreds of surveys from leaders worldwide, the Harvard Business Review uncovered seven core tensions between the traditional and emerging leadership approaches. In today’s global economy, leadership requires certain competencies, skills, and behaviours to effectively groom a competent followership of strategic thinkers, strategic entrepreneurs and responsible citizens.
- The Expert Learner
Traditionally, leaders built their careers by developing deep expertise of some kind and demonstrating increasing levels of competence as they moved up the corporate ladder. In the emerging approach, leaders must accept that their specialized expertise is limited (in some cases obsolete) and be open to learning from others. This is especially true when it comes to digital knowledge, as many of the leaders who are tasked with leading digital transformations are not digital natives themselves. If this tension is not managed wisely, leaders run the risk of making bad or inappropriate decisions.
- The Constant Adaptor
The traditional approach to leadership values decision-making conviction and consistency; good leaders “stick to their guns.” By contrast, the emerging approach recognizes that in fast-changing environments, decisions often need to be reversed or adapted, and that changing course in response to new information is a strength, not a weakness. We must not get stuck in the routine of doing thing what we are used to. We must take risks.
- The Tactical Visionary
The traditional approach to leadership calls for operational clarity and well-defined plans. The emerging approach suggests that leaders require a clear vision for where they want to go, without necessarily needing a concrete roadmap for how to get there. Sometimes, roadmaps need to change as the world evolves. The only thing constant in any era is change and our leaders must be poised for all possibilities.
- The Listener
The traditional approach to leadership calls for leaders to tell others what to do and how to do it. The emerging approach values listening carefully to others before deciding. It is expedient that leaders surround themselves with trustworthy advisers and keep their ears open so they can have their own opinions. If a leader refrains from providing their viewpoint, they miss the chance to apply their own valuable knowledge.
- The Power Sharer
The traditional approach suggests that leaders must lead from the top, make decisions, and take actions independently. In contrast, the emerging approach values empowering others to achieve goals. A nation is as good as the number of citizens who are educated, well-cultured and groomed in a progressive mentality.
- The Accelerator
The traditional approach asserts that leaders should take the time to deliver a perfectly finished product. The emerging approach calls for leaders to acknowledge that doing something quickly, and failing fast, is often more important than doing it perfectly. With Ghana’s population gradually building up numbers in youth, leaders must always be a step ahead in time because the age of digital is all about speed and being able to innovate for the future.
Becoming a more effective leader means not only expanding one’s current leadership approach to incorporate new behaviors but knowing when to focus more on one side of the tension or the other. As leaders in political positions, entrepreneurial positions corporate executive positions or even as heads of our homes, we must be open to making the difficult decisions now to secure a better future for those who follow us. We are ABLE!
“I believe that the only greatness a nation has is in the greatness of its people. – @LucyQuist -Lucy Quist, The Bold New Normal”
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on email@example.com and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.