This is Leadership with Richard Kwarteng Ahenkorah: Leader nemesis


“If you don’t deliver on what you say, your nemesis will lead you to fail.”

It’s galling when leaders sham as though they know, yet they know not. The words leaders say heighten follower emotions consciously, subconsciously and unconsciously any day, anytime. The major leader nemesis is what the leader says. The inescapable agent that would surely come after a leader would remain a leader’s promise.

The words of leaders should give hope, guide and shape teams. But when words fail to inspire, but disappoint, leaders pay for empty promises. It’s always said in various forms and shapes that you cannot reap what you haven’t sown. Leaders can get away with everything but not with what they say. If you sing, be prepared to dance to your tune.

In my country, Ghana, there’s a funny street phrase which advises that: ‘If you cannot spell it, don’t write it’. Simple! If we dastardly deceive the people consciously to promise excessively so to get follower buy-in, we should be prepared to be answerable to their excessive demands palpably.

What leaders forget is that those promises arm followers to fight back and bite harder when they are ready to. I learned the rudiments in managing information especially when leading a large team at the workplace. You don’t give information. You manage information. Don’t give TMI (Too Much Information) away. In team dynamics, leaders are tempted to give TMI to wield unnecessary power.

Even though what leaders say or may not say could be used against them in future, it’s a difficult situation when leaders need to justify what they actually say or did not say. Leadership journey paves the way and subsequently gives room to leader scrutiny. Napoleon Hill puts it nicely: ‘Think twice before you speak because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another’.

In leadership, whatever you say is inescapable. Men die. Vision doesn’t. Leaders with good intentions share their objectives to obtain follower buy-in. Good vision must have succession. Inspired by Dr. Myles Munroe, true visionaries create successors and a good vision must be handed down generationally. If what leaders say appears to be clear without ambiguity, followers will follow without hesitation. But if what leaders say turns out to be a con then they must be coerced to kiss the frog.

Painting a compelling vision is not about making promises to your teams. It’s about eagle-eyeing the end from the starting point, and actually walking toward the vision and measuring the walk – step by – step with your eye on your steps, and creating footprints to guide the steps. To avoid failure, some leaders make hard decisions not to share their vision, but focus on getting the job done. This may sound beautiful but it’s not inspiring enough.

A picture may say a thousand words, but it is better to walk your team into the vision. Share the vision. If leaders share their vision, followers become innovative and they tap into their inner strengths to work for and with the leader to ensure words become works. A whole lot of things run through a leader’s mind. Words are leaders’ nemesis. Good leaders guide the tongue. Your tongue may take you there and the same tongue may take you out. You can’t escape your words. It is the leader’s nemesis.

As long as leaders cannot stop talking, leaders shouldn’t stop walking. As it is always said: ‘leaders should walk the talk’. If you don’t deliver on what you say, your nemesis will lead you to fail. Ahenkorah (2018) hinted that words are powerful. Integrity, honesty and being true to one’s own capacity and competencies are extremely crucial to leader nemesis. Leaders must ocassionally weigh themselves by conducting self-audits on themselves.

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