It takes leadership…
Who do you admire most in Rwanda and the world? Why do you admire this individual? How much do you know about this person? Do they enable you to be a better person? Do you emulate them? Answers to these questions will most likely revolve around a leader of some sort. The answers also define who one is and the role they are likely to play in life.
Whilst one admires someone else as their role model, the more important question one must ask is whether they are aware that there is someone else looking up to them and who need to be shown good example. Are you aware that you are someone else’s leader and role model?
Leadership; that art and science of social influence is critical to the way our lives turn out. It is social because it is about the society. You influence when you encourage, inspire, sway or effect the way people do things. It is about making them see the philosophy behind the action or as my soul brothers and sisters (Black Americans) would say ‘the thing behind the thing’.
If we begin with the premise that one leads leaders (as opposed to mere followers). Since leadership is about people, people make leaders. In a way the followers make the leader. This they do by the kind by their response to the leaders’ actions. We can safely categorize leadership levels as those above (where one would like to be), your level (including oneself) and those below (who look up to one). Out of these, we can get three types of responses related to one’s leadership developmental stage.
Ululation: This, unfortunately passive, response to leadership is the most common one in our part of the world. It is the lowest level of response to leadership. It borders worship of the ‘saintly’ leader.
An unquestioning, child-like and uncritical loyalty. They can do no wrong. This is unfortunate mainly for two reasons because it more often than not deviates from the reality and makes dictators even out of the best leaders (in fact especially out of the best of leaders because they are likely to get more ululations due to their good deeds).
The deviation from reality leads to developmental stagnation (you can only go so far on hype and hot air). The second weakness is that it also stops the ‘sprouting’ up of new and better leaders who can respond to the changes in the environment, business, socio-political and otherwise. It is not sustainable.
This explains why dictatorships die and democracies survive. It is also one of the explanations of why the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi happened. But sometimes what seems like ‘ululations’ is resistance disguised in fear. As Cicero said, ‘the main purpose of words is to hide how we feel’. This disguise comes off in time and becomes bankruptcies, financial crises, rebellions, coups, revolutions and the like when the fear wares off.
Emulation: This is a more mature response to leadership. Indeed, this is the response of the leader in the making. It is a more “S/he did good there; I should also do it that way too!” the leader becomes the role model and creates other leaders. In ‘emulating the leader, there’s an encounter with reality and one is forced to reconsider aspects that are not viable. The leader is critiqued and thus a better system is developed. It is also a more open system and thus encourages growth.
Inspiration: Here the leader is aware of their role to motivate, nurture and grow younger leaders and plays that role. It involves guidance, mentorship, handholding of the young leaders. The leader encourages the protégé to question and understand the leadership and propose alternate avenues of leadership. There is also an allowance to take initiative. It is better to make mistakes than to do nothing herein.
Leadership got us from the 1994 debacle and leadership will take us where we want to be. The opposite is also true. The difference is we must all take our leadership roles, big and small. Leadership is action, not position and is too important to be left to the leaders! It takes leadership.
Contact email: Sam.kebongo[at]gmail.com