The Attitude Lounge by Kodwo Brumpon: Why do you want to lead?


“A stubborn person sails in a clay boat.” – African Proverb

We all know the ‘leadership’ word has become overused and diluted. It has become much like a buzz word. It is used so frivolously and applied so indiscriminately that many question its true meaning. One of the first words that comes up in any context is leadership, making it more like a ‘saying’ than one of the most sought-after ability any individual could possess. Maybe in an age where we are pushing people to put themselves out there, projecting oneself as a leader is a quicker means for recognition.

All in all, leadership has become trendy, and many people are inspired to be one, even though the facts on the ground show more and more proclaimed leaders fail to meet the expectations of their followers and admirers. The mess we are in stems from individuals who cannot ‘lead’ being giving authority to act on behalf of the larger population. Almost all of us have found ourselves in situations where we know with an incredible easy, which of our superiors are real leaders and those who are not, and how insignificant their title or positions has to do with it.

It is this observation that inspired David Foster Wallace, the famed American novelist and essayist to say that “a real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.” His submission is centred on the notion that the “real “authority” of a leader is the power you voluntarily give him or her. And you grant that authority not with resentment or resignation but happily. It is something that feels right to do because deep down your soul, you almost always like how that individual makes you feel. The energy he or she gives makes you work harder and it pushes you and makes you think in ways you could not have ever done on your own.

Leadership is a difficult ability to master. And it is because it is an art of building relationships, one at a time, with a painstaking attention to details of each interaction like a crafts person bringing something into being. It is like sculpturing a figure from a piece of wood. Thus, leadership is about building a relationship from end to end like a crafts person. It is complex and involves more than just talking. You must work with your ‘hands’ as well.

The reason many of us aspire to lead is because we do wholly understand the concept of leadership. Often, we focus on the perks and not the essence. It is a sacrificial task entails a sense of belonging to others and serving beyond yourself. It is a call to develop the best within yourself so that in the words of Marianne Williamson, the American author and speaker, you “let our own light shine, and unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As you are liberated from your own fear, your presence automatically liberates others.”

A leader should always appreciate that you are going to inspire an attitude in other humans who are made up “body, spirit and soul.” Some argue that we are just body and spirit. Whichever it is, a leader should be equipped with an understanding of the physical and spiritual dimensions of living. Too many ‘leaders’ have focused on our material aspect because they desired a constant state of bliss for their followers, and they failed in their undertakings. They have ignored the value of the immaterial and paid a huge price of failure. You need to be connected to the higher reality so that you can lift others. It is about pursuing a more satisfying existence rather that the superficial. This is because a leader should never leave his or her followers with an empty feeling. Afterall, they look up to you for their whole existence.

You want to lead; you need to connect authentically to the physical as well as the spiritual sides of people. You need to foster a genuine connection and be valued for who you are intrinsically, whilst doing the same for others. Plus, you need to have a purpose that has more to do with what you can contribute to the upliftment of our humanity, more than what you want. To lead is to make a positive difference. So whatever you say and do, should make the world a better place and fill lives with meaning…


Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd, a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics, with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergies, that catapults into their strategic growth, and certifies their sustainability.

Comments, suggestions, and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand

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