RE: “Rwanda’s progress: why leadership matters” (The New Times, March 15).
We live in a world, mainly in western Europe and north America, where chief executive officers (CEOs) of major global companies earn tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars a year, while their ordinary workers earn barely in tens of thousands of dollars a year only.
We are told this extreme difference in earning power is justified by the fact that the profitability of those companies is mainly attributable to the vision and leadership of those CEOs without whom those companies might not do as well, if not even worse, go bankrupt.
Newly hired CEOs of failing companies who turn their fortunes around and return them to profitability draw in even greater rewards than those who take the helm of average performing enterprises in recognition of the fact they are the critical ingredient that make the difference between success and failure.
And yet, when it comes to Rwanda – previously a country deep in the throes of bankruptcy – and now a miracle turnaround, a thriving concern and one whose people look forward to the future with unbeatable optimism because of the capacity of its CEO to give them belief in themselves and their product line, we are told by the same people who extol the unique role of leadership for which CEOs get paid hundreds of millions of dollars in annual compensation even as their companies pay each average worker only a few hundredths of what their CEOs earn, that leadership shouldn’t matter.
Perhaps in the case of those companies, such outsized pay cannot be justified because few of them were in danger of failure when those CEOs were appointed. But in our case, we know, for having experienced it first hand, that the difference between failure and success was the quality of leadership.
We still have a country, not only as a going concern but a thriving one, because of an exceptional leader and his ability to motivate us to excel ourselves even when everything seems lost, no, particularly when it seemed all was lost. And then knowing how to continue to motivate us even after we had overcome the worst perils and might have allowed our efforts to flag.
That is what leadership is all about: to have a vision, to know how to communicate it and mobilize others to share and make it their own, as Rwandans have, and to put in place the right people and structures to turn the vision into appropriate action and for the desired results.