By Ismail Warsame
Leadership entails many qualities. But we aren’t here to give a lecture on leadership 101 in any field of human endeavor and capacity. We want lo look at menu of limited characteristics that are critically important to do the business of leadership in most areas of human organization.
Two items in our menu of quality leadership are management and vision. The two items are closely inter-linked. A manager without vision doesn’t know where he is going to lead his team to, clear objectives and goals to realize. Lacking management skills makes one unable to lead by example, and to persuade the team willingly to deliver quality works in the pursuit of reaching at common objective or product – in political terms, to carry out well-thought policy objectives with the use of potential talent and competence of your team members, giving credit openly where is due. That is how you prepare and groom future leaders. Don’t engage in “After me the dèluge”.
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At administrative and policy levels, leadership entails consultations at team and public levels. A leader doing it alone isn’t informed and his efforts would end up in one-man show. That isn’t leadership for he doesn’t understand the importance of shared responsibilities and delegation of power to tested, competent and trusted team members. In the absence of this principle, you can only blame yourself for imminent policy failures that will surely happen in the end. A leader should strive to build sustainable system that would outlast him. That means building institutions and infrastructure that would outlive him. You can’t build all these by acting as a lone gunman, preventing anyone else from sharing the credit with you. This one-man show approach is also egocentric and mean to your team.
An African colleague of mine in high government position told me decades ago two memorable stories about his experience in managing the presidency of a well-known African president:
- “My boss takes credit for all policy objectives that went well”.
- “My boss blames others in the team for all policy failures”.
I asked my colleague whether his boss listened and consulted with the people. He responded “yes, but with the wrong people. He doesn’t consult with the subject matter experts. He consults with only liked-minded persons. That is why we have policy implementation problems”.