By Elton Gomori
Anyone of rational, logical and fair mental function would concur with me that, it is nether open to doubt nor close to ambiguity that everything on this spinning planet we call earth rises or falls on leadership. Leadership is, therefore, beyond any shadow of doubt one of the greatest imperatives to the world at large.
In as much as leadership is of paramount importance, it is the scarcest phenomena in this era. There are great illusions on matters relating to leadership, which this piece seeks to unravel. Technically, the greatest threat to leadership in this age, more than ever before, is politics. People generally mistake leadership for politics and consequently identify politicians as leaders. As a result, this amounts to maiming and marring of the institutions and the people therein.
Principally, leadership is the process of influencing humanity to act on the accomplishment of a worthwhile cause. Paradoxically, in my opinion, politics is the processes involved in public administration of a community or state marked with either seeking or clinging on to power. More often than not, politics has permeated into various institutions at the expense of the led. In this wavelength, politics and their practitioners are fast becoming irrelevant to in the timeline of various institutions. We need leadership in politicians instead of politicians in our leadership structures.
Leadership is not about the pursuit of power, it is all about empowering people. Politicians seek power while leaders yearn to empower people. This reminds me of the late African statesman, Nelson Mandela, he fought against the Apartheid rule in South Africa, which was identified with segregation, tribalism and oppression of the black majority. He was imprisoned for 27 years for standing for freedom, justice and equality yet when he later on became president he only served in that office for one term knowing that his struggle and aspiration was not to become the head of state but rather to empower the blacks in South Africa.
That is leadership beyond politicking. If one is obsessed with only getting to or staying on the helm of the institution he finds self in, he or she fits in the league of politicians and not leaders. Politics in structures of authority becomes cancerous to the state of affairs in the sense that it creates super individuals as opposed to great institutions. John Quincy Adams said it well when he alluded to that “ if your actions can inspire others to do more, learn more and become more ; you are a leader’’.
Ostensibly, is essential to note that leadership in its purest sense has nothing much to do with posts. Titles may be found in leadership but the reverse is certainly not true. Leadership, if described in one word, may entail ‘service’ or ‘influence’. There is nothing wrong with having posts, titles or designation of various nature and nurture but the bottom line is, leadership hinges on serving others. Therefore, leaders are servants of the people. In contrast, politicians do not serve the people in as much as people serve them. They are the ‘bosses’ to people. This is for the reason why you can observe that many politicians in public offices to date are leading flamboyant lives at the expense of tax payers money who are struggling to make earns meet. There must be something wrong with our politics.
I mentioned earlier on about the goodness of Nelson Mandela as a leader in politics not politician in leadership. If you can go and carry out a shallow research on him, you will discover that the late icon is never listed top among the rich politicians in this world even though some other politicians are. My point is not that politicians have to be poor but there should surely be a justification to how they amass their wealth against the background that many of them do not have lucrative figures on their pay slips as well businesses from own and clean financial affluence as the capital base.
More importantly, it is very crucial to note that politicians focus on the next election, leaders focus on the next generation. Politicians being just that – politicians, are so serious on conducting rallies, writing manifestos, protests, campaigns and sloganeering as they gear up support for forth coming elections. Leaders, on the other extreme, concentrate on mentoring others to take on the leadership mantle as they prepare leaders of the next generation. Leaders equip others to lead and they facilitate a reproduction of good leadership, they really don’t misconstrue themselves for the only tower light in the street, they know others too can brighten the society through their gifts, talents and competences. When politicians focus on programs and empty promises, leaders focus on vision and values. Leaders are institutional prophets of some sort, they have a clear and powerful picture of the future of organizations they find themselves in and they thrive and strive to materialize their visions.
Nothing can be further from the truth, I shall not mince my words, politicians focus on positions, leaders focus on disposition of their mandate in the best manner possible, guided by an insatiable appetite for diligence, transformation and actualisation of organisational vision – much to the delight and betterment of the lives of other members of the human race.
Just a quick survey of politicians, especially in Africa, would reveal how they seem to take opposing each other for a profession and scolding each other for a hobby. It is simultaneously interesting and very absurd how politicians oppose each other for the sake of it, whereas leaders propose ideas to each other. Instead of bringing afore policies, ideas and strategies that are developmental, politicians especially in Zimbabwe, my country of nativity, seem to take solace in rebutting each others’ submissions and deliberations without offering sound alternatives. It’s sad when adults and senior citizens take to the podium on rallies and shout ‘Forward with Y ’, and ‘Down with X’. Surely, we can do better than that crap and trash. When politics is infested with sound leadership, it becomes more of a contestation of ideas not persons.
The contemporary African society, and even the world at large, needs a paradigm shift from politics, especially politics of hate speech, hatred, sloganeering and clinching on to power. This generation and posterity needs leaders in our political space not merely politicians who doesn’t exude sound leadership qualities and bring solutions to a raft of problems humanity is faced with. The need for leadership in politics can never be understated. Leadership is the way to go.
Elton Gomori is an academic, author, motivational speaker, master of ceremonies, leadership expert and marriage scientist. He writes in his personal capacity. He can be contacted via email on email@example.com or WhatsApp on 0736 404 911.