A month back I wrote an article on seven qualities of highly effective leaders and today’s piece will balance the debate.
By JONAH NYONI
The focus will be on seven habits of dangerous leaders. This article comes well as an advice to all our political leaders who will be contesting in elections coming up on the July 30. This country deserves better leaders and to be a better leader we need to constantly learn not only what we can do better but what we should not do as well.
As a leader rises up the ladder, he may become very excited. There is always easy access to most things like networks, people and property. Going up the ladder is a process that could take some time. When one is on the crest, some people underneath may try to drop the ladder. Some are those who want to be with the leaders up the ladder. Others want to be identified or attached to you because they know that there are privileges that go with leadership. Now, let’s zoom on those seven things you should not do when you are up in leadership:
Lack of Information
People perish because they lack knowledge (Hosea 4: 6). It’s said, your mind is like a parachute, it functions well when it is open. In other terms, the mind is also like a muscle; it bulges or grows with exercise. A leader’s mind is the core engine that keeps the whole structure in motion or where most things are generated. To keep the engine functioning, it should be constantly fuelled, cheeked, cleaned, and upgraded.
The contrary leads to malfunction.
Oliver Wendell Holmes had a famous saying that I have adopted over years. He once said: “Once a mind has been stretched by a new idea, it never returns to its original state”. It’s easy to flee ignorance; simply ask questions, read books, learn from mentors and advisors, attend seminars, listen to DVDs and CDs. All in all, you are a sum total of what you feed your mind with! The most dangerous person is not only without relevant information, but who does not want to accept that information.
Lack of honesty
In corruption, when everyone started they thought no one knew. When they continued to enjoy, they thought they will never be caught. When they were caught they told those that knew that it was just once. You could be asking, Jonah what are you talking about? Give it a guess, it’s a bribe or corruption! A bribe is not as good as it tastes! Strive Masiyiwa in his Facebook articles (November 6 2013), gave us a great motivation applicable even to the leader. He said:
“Corruption will end in Africa, when some of us, say “enough! I don’t care, that I have to walk to work, I am not getting on a taxi that pays a policeman, a bribe at a checkpoint whilst I watch. I am not going to give my cousin a job, in government, because he is my cousin. I am not going to take a bribe when I am a judge in a court case. I am not going to pay a customs official. I am not going to pay anyone a cut for a contract, even if it means I am out of business. And when we do this, one morning we will wake up and find there is no corruption in our society, and there are no corrupt leaders, because if there are corrupt leaders, they come from our societies.” As a leader, never abuse power to wrongly get things.
A leader that does not listen to people
Followers need that protection from the leader, but if the leader is no longer listening, the follower becomes vulnerable. As campaigns are going on, you ask: do political leaders really listen to their people? Or they use their people to get into position? Remember, leadership is not a position. There are some people that are in a position, but they are not leaders. Leadership is about disposition (attitude).
A leader who does not know the true purpose of leadership
Leadership power should be used to empower people. John C. Maxwell says “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”. If you can’t use your leadership to influence others, you are not a leader. What are you then? You could be one of the following: manipulator, manager (only), despot, autocrat, kleptocrat, or dictator. As Zimbabweans, we need to think of the true essence of leadership. As you read this, you are thinking of who is suppose to lead you after the of July 30, you need to think deeper. You might be an MP, Councillor, or a vying presidential candidate, what is it that you are bringing? Because, we have been abused by politicians for a long time, most people don’t even think when a politician promises people jobs. It’s never the role of the government or politicians to give you a job (read that twice), but it is it’s their role and mandate to make the environment in our country conducive for us to flourish. Don’t be fooled by people who look for you when they need your vote. The purpose of leadership is to know their purpose first as leaders, and that highest purpose of leadership is Influence!
The image of most leaders has been marred because of sexual or other immoralities. Character is everything. If a leader has the audacity to cheat sexually against their spouse, what assurance do you have that they will not cheat on you? If you want to really know a leader, don’t listen to what they tell you, but know what they can do in your absence. Our leaders must be open, transparent, and uphold high moral values.
Wise words say: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before destruction” (Proverbs 16: 18 KJV). In life one lesson I have learnt is to value anyone whatever their financial standing, their level of education or their social position. Most of our political leaders think or behave as though they are above the very people they leader.
How do I know this? It’s seen when people are afraid of their leader. Or when people are forced to godify the leader. This is one dangerous thing about African politics in general and Zimbabwe in particular.
Most of our leaders are so proud, you can’t criticise them, and if you do, you face the music. This has even crept into our churches. An American scientist, inventor and educator, George Washington Carver had a fine saying which goes:
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these”. With pride you can’t do that! In fact, pride has corrupted our leaders.
The people that you stick with determine how high you go in life. What you stick around with, ultimately sticks on you. Some people have negative attitudes, motives and mindsets. As a common idiom says, attitude determines our altitude. We might be skilled in doing a specific task, but our attitude has an underlining factor as to how well we will do the task. Wrong friends give us a wrong attitude. A demeaning and disparaging crop of people is also bad. One of my favourite writers, Mark Twain, tells us frankly; “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great”. In addition, every leader must have an advisor. In the past 10 years, I have advised CEOs, manager, MPs, pastors and it’s so easy to spot a leader that will not last. Just check people that surround him/ her.
Parting point: We are as strong as our weakest point. Intelligent, skilled, and intuitive leaders have succumbed to the above baits. They built a strong empire, only to ruin it in a split second. Building is always tiring and time-consuming, but to bring that down takes no much time.
We have been taught how to drive forward, but little have been we taught how to check blind spots. The future of Zimbabwe is not in the hands of a politician, but in leaders that are going to enable people “to dream more, learn more, and become more.”