Is logical somersaulting a credible quality test of a leader’s character?

What you need to know:

  • In Tanzania, we are still applauding verbal fluency and eloquence as a test of a promising quality leader. This may be contested, but it is evident in our public and media lives.

There are uncountable ideas of leadership which have over the years sprouted from all over the world. As such, the world has had leaders of all sorts: the good, the bad, the ugly, the gruesome, the philanthropic, the ruthless, the eloquent, the inconsiderate, the dreamers, etc.

This reality shows us how important the idea of leadership is in the lives of the people being led. The manifestation of the character of a leader is, to a great extent, a life representation of the idea of leadership in the leader, which may or may not be accepted.

As the target of leadership is to uplift the people being led, it is important for those being led to be the consenting determining principle for the idea of leadership used to lead them and manage what is theirs.

It is not up to the leader to come up with an idea of leadership since leadership is given with the consent of the people. While the creativity of those in leadership is encouraged, it should not dominate or overshadow the voice and dreams of those being led.

It is time we talk about what good leadership is, especially in the public, sociopolitical, and economic life of society. We cannot stop at a literalistic reading of the idea of John Maxwell, who said, ‘Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” As a people, we have grown past that, even though it is clear in public life that we have many leaders who are not necessarily efficient but have influence.

In Tanzania, we are still applauding verbal fluency and eloquence as a test of a promising quality leader. This may be contested, but it is evident in our public and media lives. In sociopolitical or economic gatherings involving the government, there are more speeches to thank the president and leaders, as though they are doing charity to the country out of their immense benevolence.

Forums that should discuss matters and bring up solutions are bureaucratic and politicised in that way. Imagine going to a conference where everyone is thanking the leaders, despite it being obviously exaggerated. Many do that to secure their jobs and remain in government, even when they do not believe in it.

There have been instances where leaders have come out to defend the government and even tell lies in the process, but our unimaginable admiration for their eloquence pardons such huge misrepresentations of the office of leadership just because they speak and argue so well.

It is high time we noted that arguments and eloquence do not make the country progress. We need leaders who can put their hands on deck and work for the people. We need to listen to the leaders with the intention of hearing what has not been said.

We cannot be perpetual victims of logical games and somersaulting at the mercy of leaders who get drunk with power and forget that they are representatives of the people.

While different global faiths have different ideas of leadership, I’ll use the words of Pope Francis, who strongly believes in “Servant Leadership”; he says, For leadership, there is only one road, that of service, and no other.”

This road of service is simply influencing change and growth amongst the people and institutions without the leader being the most important part of the same. The world can boast of many servant leaders, though most of them are painted badly by leaders who are only self-seeking and self-serving.

We should not become a country where the ills of oppressive and abusive leaders are covered by logic, arguments, and threats. Leaders should be made to take responsibility for their actions. Even though those being led live with deep struggles for the basics of life, health, and safety, leaders enjoy luxury.

It is sometimes surprising to really grasp the priorities of our leaders in their service, as either themselves or the people.

Mwalimu Nyerere once said, “It is necessary to learn from others’ experiences, but it is also necessary to remember that the conditions of other countries will never be exactly the same as those of our own.” This is why we need to have an idea of leadership that goes beyond logic and eloquence, which appears to be prevalent.

While this is not a distaste of our leaders, it is a distaste for the falsehood of singing praises for leaders as well as a perversion of truth to the public by use of logical arguments, verbal influence, and power, when things are completely different in actual situations.

Certainly, some will retort that our leaders have leadership education; that too needs to be revisited, as it might be one of the key problematic factors.

Shimbo Pastory is an advocate for positive social transformation. He writes from Manila, The Philippines. Email: [email protected], WhatsApp: +447459732915.