IN the US they have an old saying that “anybody can grow up to be president.” But not everybody is cut out to be president. It takes a special kind of person, someone tough, smart and driven, just to run for the job. It takes still more talent and character to hold up under the pressures of life in the White House. Others too say no matter where you are in your career, it’s never too late to learn how to be an effective leader.
A few days ago, Pilgrim Wesleyan Church national superintendent Bishop Alfred Kalembo said a majority of those chosen to leadership positions make the mistake of thinking that they know everything.
“Majority of those chosen to leadership positions make the mistake of thinking that they know everything and cannot heed to advice from others. People know their situation hence the importance for leaders to always seek audience with their people. There is wisdom in asking people about how they were feeling…It is important for leaders to know that isolating themselves from the people has repercussions.”
He said stakeholders could either fulfil or frustrate a leader’s vision hence the need to respect and consult them. Bishop Kalembo, who quoted from the book of Nehemiah, described an effective leader as one who identified others in authority and worked with them in harmony to achieve their goals. He challenged leaders not only to depend on what they heard but also to physically inspect works themselves.
“It’s unfortunate that most times leaders receive information that is not true and they act on it, but the best way is to keep engaging their people to do the right thing,” said Bishop Kalembo.
What is Bishop Kalembo trying to tell us?
First, in politics, the essence of politics and ascending to leadership is to make a difference.
How many of our leaders are motivated to do good remains a question.
In the case of the present administration, we can only describe it as an enigma.
We have a regime that has embarked on projects – work or activity that is wasteful or pointless – but most of these involve political patronage.
While the majority Zambians wallow in poverty, the few around the echelons of power are stinking rich and seem not to care about the concerns of the people they lead.
Our citizens know what needs to be attended to make their lives on earth dignified.
A true leader is one who consults, hears the cries of his people and leads his team to consider how best to deal with the problem.
We are told that “the person God uses has a burden for His people, a vision for His purpose, and a commitment to His purpose.”
In Nehemiah’s case, he saw great need which burdened his heart. He also saw what God wanted to accomplish and he committed himself to see it through in spite of the many difficulties.
In our country today, the needs of the people are so many and so great because the leadership has no time to seek advice. It has no heart to learn the citizens’ problems and how they can be addressed.
We have a leadership that is acting very corruptly but refuses to repent.
The socio-economic challenges facing our country calls for effective leadership and this kind of leadership requires putting together strong teams that work well.
And what we have seen from Edgar Lungu’s administration is the opposite.
What he has is a weak and dysfunctional team, generally a failure in leadership.
Once you fail to sell your ideas, and refuse to let in new ones, you cannot succeed.
Edgar’s regime is all about itself.
Yet we all know that effective leaders periodically take stock of their personal strengths and shortcomings. They ask: “What do I like to do? What am I really good at? What are my areas of weakness, and what do I dislike doing?”
Knowing your areas of weakness does not make you weak; on the contrary, it allows you to delegate to others who have those abilities, in order to achieve the common goal. Rather than clinging to the false belief that they can do it all, great leaders hire people who complement, rather than supplement, their skills.