George W Nyabadza
LEADERSHIP in the African context is about healing and freeing broken minds, creating economic and societal structures that create favourable opportunities for everyone and motivating p
eople to their best ability.
This in my view is the true definition of effective leadership in the African context. The order of the three facets of effective African leadership is important because each one prepares the ground for the next.
Healing and freeing a broken mind is a leadership function that can only be driven by those minds that are already healed and free. Healed and free of any vestiges of colonialism, religious bondage, poor leadership, broken families and any other injustice that could have been perpetrated.
Leaders first have to free themselves through a process of deep personal reflection, discovering their reason for being – their purpose, understanding the effect of external negative forces on their personality and consciously choosing to take progressive steps to free themselves.
Such freedom comes from understanding that one’s essence is not determined by what one has become as a result of past and prevailing circumstances but rather that there is a purity deep inside everyone of us, that this purity, the human spirit, can never be quenched, spoilt or ravaged by any external circumstance. Leaders therefore rise up above prevailing circumstances and define who they are and in exploring the depths of their self, their spirit, they discover their purpose and destiny which by definition of the African leadership term means to free others and to bring them to a place where they can be their best in an enabling environment.
Creating economic and societal structures that create favourable opportunities for everyone is the second facet of African leadership. This is probably the most complex because it requires interaction with people and forces outside the full control of the leader.
It is however relevant for all types of leaders – political, social, spiritual and even academic. You have heard of the saying “it is better to teach a man how to fish than to feed him fish”.
An unhealed and broken mind desires to be fed fish continuously so their lives are structured around begging, borrowing and subsistence grants but a healed and strong mind desires to be productive, to be the lender and to be self-sustaining. This is even applicable on a national scale. Nations that are not free depend on borrowing and donor funding, grants and aids but never have a drive to become themselves lenders and producers.
Having said that it must be borne in mind that there will always be a transition period between being fed fish and becoming a fishermen. The wise leader takes advantage of this. So a nation can accept donor funding as it migrates to a position of self-sustenance. On a corporate basis leaders must create reward and incentive systems that free people from dependency to self-sustenance if they are productive. On a personal basis you must consciously move from a dependency on borrowing and donor funding to being a lender yourself.
The third facet of African leadership is motivating people to their best ability. This is achieved by inspiring people to personal greatness through a process of discovering their God-given call whatever that might be and fully expressing it on a personal, corporate and national basis. So what can a leader do in practice? I always suggest to participants in my leadership seminars that they take the material I present and create short three to four-hour presentations to deliver to their staff at least once every month.
This has the effect of cementing the learning and also of bringing them to a place where they hone their leadership skills in practice.
Leaders are readers and the plethora of books on leadership provides you rich substance to create your own leadership development materials. If you do not know how to have a leadership consultant assist you develop an in-house programme.