By Emmaculate Mwikali
It is not what you do not know that gets you into trouble, It is what you know for sure that is not so. – Mark Twain
As I write this piece, I am going down memory lane and many incidences where noble leadership has been questioned in Kenya and the neighboring countries go through my mind. The post election violence back in 2007/2008 in our country-a result of tribal clashes during the election period steered mainly by the leaders in office then, Ugandas 2016 election the issue of free and fair elections was questioned and the rampant arrests of the presidential opponents.
I am also looking at the campaigns by Cooperative University in Karen. It went sour after a matatu being used by the comrades during the campaigns flipped and killed 2 students, leaving others seriously injured. These are just a few of the many events that are burning my insides as I contemplate on leadership models.
I have been attending a class in communication leadership and when all these examples come to mind, none of the involved parties has any of the leadership skills I have learnt so far.
No noble leader can lead you into trouble. Instead, they will strive to make wise decisions on how to lead in a certain situation and address issues of concern in accordance.
It just dawned on me that we always talk of leadership with the assumption that each one of us is aware of its true meaning.
So, what is leadership?
In class, I have learnt that leadership happens when a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization involved in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. So if we give it a quick summary, we are left with the definition of a person whom his/her direction and approach people are willing to follow.
Kenya is in the season of voters registration for the upcoming 2017 elections. I can state for a fact that most of you are excited and are apprehensive just thinking of their first time experience at the ballot. Believe you me; I had the same excitement back in 2013. I barely slept knowing I could cast a vote for my approved candidates. Looking at all these case scenarios, it is also a fact that most of you believe that the voting process is not transparent enough. Some lack faith in the electoral commission yet there is nothing they can do about it. Some of us are busy declaring how they will never go voting again (I included) because of the torturers hours we spent on the voting queue and the assumption that the election is not fair and is indeed rigged.
Do we feel so helpless when it comes to electing leaders that are viable? Is the blame of corrupt, selfish, lazy and shrewd leaders dependent on our lack of interest in hoping for change? Well, the question of leadership lingers once more and we critically question ourselves, what leadership is indeed and what it entails.
Leaders vary in character just like our preference vary from one individual to the other. If you ask some of us, who is the right candidate to govern a certain area or just the perfect CEO for any company, each one of us will come out with a unique character. This is true because, there are different types of leaders. Some are believed to be born; others have traits of leadership while others learn the skill of leadership.
It is imperative for us to learn what leadership is not. According to Kevin Kruse a contributor of Forbes, 2013;
Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or ones position in the hierarchy of a company. Many talk about a company’s leadership referring to the senior most executives in the organization. They are just that, senior executives. Leadership doesn’t automatically happen when you reach a certain pay grade. Hopefully you find it there, but there are no guarantees.
Leadership has nothing to do with titles. Similar to the point above, just because you have a a good grade title, doesn’t automatically make you a leader. One does not need a title to lead. In fact, you can be a leader in your place of worship, your neighborhood, in your family, all without having a title.
Leadership has nothing to do with personal attributes. Say the word leader and most people think of a domineering, take-charge charismatic individual. We often think of icons from history like General Patton or President Lincoln. But leadership is not an adjective. We dont need extroverted charismatic traits to practice leadership. And those with charisma do not automatically lead.
With this insight, it is wise to analyze your choice of a leader. Ask yourself, does my leader of choice offer a cause, direction or objective that is satisfying and sincere? If I give them my vote with total confidence, will they steer change, will they reciprocate communication when referenced or will I hesitate to vote the next time there is an election due to a continuous unsatisfactory behavior faced from the current leaders?
My advice to you; choose your leaders wisely!
The writer is a masters student taking MA. in Corporate Communications at Daystar University, Kenya