“If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness.” – Nigerian proverb
In an era when a video – shot to humour individuals or the ‘system’ – can earn one a following so great the person becomes a voice to reckon with, we have to do more to develop people who can drive the right initiatives and accelerate positivity and growth in society. We need to inspire individuals to rise above their ambitions and proactively take responsibility for the flourishing of our humanity. In fact, we must build people to be men and women of situations, so much so that wherever they find themselves they will be able to give the best of themselves.
It is no secret that ‘leadership’ has become a cliché. Almost every person seeking some kind of authority uses the word in one form or the other. Notwithstanding this, there is something mysterious about leaders when we come into contact with them. It is difficult to point out with exactness, but real leaders are able to inspire us to do those things that are right and just. They are things we know about and desire to do, but do not do on our own – unless we get the right push.
This attribute of theirs is what we need to nurture in more and more individuals, so that they can properly define themselves as leaders. Psychologists agree that how individuals define themselves has a positive correlation to how they impact their societies. That is why we need to strategically pursue a policy of inculcating, supporting and promoting a lifelong commitment to leadership and public service among the general populace.
Societies do not develop by accident. Their advancements are result from the presence of sound leadership and an awareness and willingness to take the necessary steps in identifying talents and nurturing them into the leaders of tomorrow. Thus, the tragic reality of the continent’s leadership vacuum calls for all of us to reflect on how we should go about changing our countries by nurturing and building the leadership capacities of individuals and teams to pursue impactful innovations and solutions. It is a great task, but history has always taught us that challenging circumstances offer opportunities for great destinies.
We are at a point where the need to develop ‘leaders’ surpasses even infrastructural development. We need to modify and instil positive experiential attitudes in our youth, so that they will be courageous enough to prioritise Africa’s pressing need for radical change. This drive will, hopefully, witness the rise to power of leaders in our society who are up to the challenges of our times – times which call for moralists rather than relativists, sophisticated revolutionaries rather than reform-minded technocrats, and people with a sense of history rather than people with only business acumen (Gewt 2021).
Leadership is a lonely mission – the reason being that when it comes to taking and implementing essential decisions, people condemn you to go all-alone. In fact, the responsibility of being the servant of others goes beyond thinking for them. You also have to ensure there exists a system that allows them to flourish without you spoon-feeding them – thus creating some distance between leaders and their followers.
This distance is necessary to keep the leader’s esteem, but it comes with personal disillusionments. It takes a lot of nurturing and persuasion to get individuals to embrace this essential ingredient of leadership. After all, no one wants to be lonely. But if we have to build leaders, then we must be ready to teach people how to use their solitude to generate extraordinary ideas.
Everything worthwhile takes time. Likewise, developing an individual – to the point where others can and will want to voluntarily give him or her authority to act on their behalf – will take some amount of time to achieve. It demands continuous training that should be linked to some regular performance assessment. But more importantly, it needs commitment on our part.
We all have to make it a point to build leaders, and this call falls on all of us; especially those of us in the corporate world. We need to become leaders so that we can ‘transform knowledge into impact’. So, let us work together to create a network of mission-driven leaders who engage and inspire each other to get the best results. Let us improve ourselves to appreciate the essence of creating participatory and collaborative processes which develop the abilities of those we come into contact with, so that we can develop others into leaders.
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a trainer and life coach who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true, by helping them positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]