Many in Liberia today do not understand the true meaning of leadership and there are yet many more who have not understood who exactly a leader is and over and over we get the wrong people appointed or elected and we expect better results. That is impossible. We can never have the wrong people into leadership and then expect better results.
Too often we confused leadership with charisma, heroics, tough mindedness, eloquent speeches, skillful debate, etc. Leadership is not any of the above. Leadership is helping people care about themselves, their work, and their treatment of others. Leadership motivates people to discover themselves and their talents, to do their best, and to take responsibility and share recognition for achievement and failure. Follow the Singapore’s story in our last week’s edition and you will get a better sense of who a leader is and what good leadership does to a country.
In my five years of studying leadership and in my six years of teaching leadership, I have come to understand that a leader is one who has the courage to dream, the ability to organize and the strength to execute the action necessary. A leader is simply one who knows where he or she wants to go, gets up and goes. A leader has foresight and has the ability to lead.
But today in Liberia we see the opposite. People who are leaders and are placed in leadership positions only care about themselves. They failed to motivate others. They fail to take responsibility and to share recognition for achievements and failures. When a leader in Liberia fails, he or she plays the blame game-blaming others and not wanting to take responsibility. With such attitude, we can never be united in our drive to moving Liberia forward.
Remember, people do what people see. They will not follow us if we are not showing them the way. Sadly, many who are in leadership positions in Liberia thinks they are leaders but they have no followers and as Dr. John Maxwell puts it “He who thinks he is a leader and has no one following him is only taking a walk.” Friend, people will only follow us if we care about them. Why? Because people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
So then, how do we make Liberia a leader and a country that is second to none in Africa? Firstly, we as a country and people must begin to train, develop and equip the younger generation for leadership. We must begin to nurture leaders at every level of our society and make education and leadership top priorities. Secondly, all of us must begin to see Liberia as all that we have and must put her first in all that we do. And thirdly, All Liberians must become active participants, instead of being spectators, in the economic and social development of Liberia.
The challenge is for Liberians to be active at every level of the development process – from the development of economic theory, through policy making to the implementation of policies at every level, from government to the village. It must include active participation in the governance of our country. I believe, without doubt, that bad governance is unquestionably the most cause of the socio-economic crisis we have been faced with and that the lack of motivation or appropriate ideology is a major reason for the failure of Liberia to develop.
For the above reasons I am convinced that Liberians must ceased to be spectators and become active participants in the struggle to make Liberia a better place. It is Liberians that will have to become leaders in the struggle-not the UN System or the US, Britain or China. The people of Singapore became leaders and took up the challenge all by themselves. In order to fulfill this responsibility Liberians must be able to use the talent and skills of all especially our academicians and other professionals. Second, our leaders, academicians and professionals need to think together. They must be able to meet or set up forum groups.
Opposition is necessary though, for it creates a check and balance within the system. But from where we have come it is important for us to know that our past is over and that Liberia is the only country we have. We must all endeavor to make Liberia a better place for our children and our children’s children. Many are hoping too high and want a piece of the cake too soon.
This is selfishness. Destruction is easy but development is a process. You can break down a five-storey building within a day but you cannot build it within a day. That is impossible. But let’s get this straight-it is not only the masses that need to understand this fact. Our leaders too need to understand this also. This is one reason our leaders need to develop a plan for peace, growth and prosperity as well as a strategy for making that plan a reality.
The above is also one reason our leaders must use every resource at their disposal to meeting development needs and to making sure that people who are placed in leadership positions are leaders and not some other persons that aim to corrupt the system or deviate from the plan.
Friend, this article is intended to point us to the truth about what leadership is and what it is not. It is also intended to enlighten us that with oneness of purpose we can all make Liberia a better place for our children and generations to come and a country that is second to none in Africa. There is hope for the future of this country. With desire and a strong drive we will take Liberia there. I have dreamt it you too can dream it. Be a tomorrow’s thinker, friend.
(Chealy Brown Dennis can be contacted through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on phone at: 0886-264-611)