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27.05.2019 Feature Article

Mum, but tall and handsome biblical Goliath wasn’t a competent leader!

Mum, but tall and handsome biblical Goliath wasn’t a competent leader!

Somewhere in 2015, I rang my mother to find out how she was getting on with life in Ghana but our conversation inadvertently stretched into Ghana’s political landscape.

This piece is a retrospective commentary of the conversation I had with my mother, which I would like to share with my dearest readers.

Our telephone conversation went like this:

Kwaku: Hello Mum, how are you doing?

Mum: Hmmm, I am not feeling good at all this morning. My body is really aching.

Kwaku: Have my sympathy Mum; I think you are feeling the intrinsic effects of aging.

Mum: Many thanks for sympathising with me my son.

Kwaku: What about life in general then Mum?

Mum: Eiiiiii, Kwaku, it has become extremely hard ooooo! The ‘dumsor’ is not going away, prices of goods are on the high and your brothers and sisters businesses are collapsing.

Kwaku: I know Mum; I noticed all the hardships when I visited Ghana in March 2014; have my sympathy once again.

Mum: Many thanks for showing concern, Kwaku; are you also experiencing hardships as a result of bad governance amid dumsor over there in London?

Kwaku: Dumsor? No Mum. I have not witnessed a single dumsor since I have been in the United Kingdom.

Mum: Really? Do you mean for the last three decades you’ve been in the United Kingdom there has not been a single dumsor?

Kwaku: Yes Mum; we do not have dumsor time table here.

Mum: Your President is doing well then; do you normally vote for him?

Kwaku: Yes Mum, our Prime Minister is performing alright. And to answer your follow up question, I do not normally vote for the Conservatives because I do not subscribe to their ideology and campaign messages.

Mum: But your Prime Minister is doing fantastically well, so what all the farce about campaign messages?

Kwaku: Mum, you don’t vote for the sake of voting; you weigh all the campaign promises before giving away your mandate.

Let me tell you Mum, I did not even vote for my MP (Kwesi Kwarteng), the Conservative Party parliamentary representative, who has Ghanaian parents.

Let me tell you once again Mum, although I am one of the king makers in the Labour Party’s leadership contest by virtue of my Trade Union membership, I voted for the then Conservative candidate, Theresa May in the 2016 general elections because of her compelling campaign messages back then.

Mum: Really? As for me I chose that tall and handsome guy in 2012.

Kwaku: Do you mean President Mahama?

Mum: Yes, I voted for him because of his handsome looks.

Kwaku: Hmm, Mum, why did you then mourn over the hardships back then? Didn’t you choose handsome looks over competence?

Mum: But I also chose handsome President Kufuor over Atta Mills.

Kwaku: Well, Mum, competence does not reside in ones stature.

Mum: But President Kufuor was tall, handsome and extremely competent.

Kwaku: You are right Mum. But you are also aware that we have useless tall and handsome individuals around.

Take, for example, the biblical Goliath was also tall and handsome, but was useless, for it took the midget, competent and intelligent David to floor him.

Mum: Well, Kwaku, so what is your point now?

Kwaku: Mum, my point is that we don’t vote for handsome looks, we rather vote for competence, integrity and realistic campaign messages, for handsome looks won’t solve the existential problems.

Mum: Well, Kwaku, I’ve got your message.

Kwaku: Mum, am glad you’ve embraced the message. Please don’t keep it to your chest; pass it on.

Mum: Kwaku, I’ll do.

Kwaku: Mum, remember to always choose competence over handsome looks.

Mum: Many thanks Kwaku for your illumination.

Kwaku: That’s alright Mum. I am duty bound as a bona fide citizen to highlight the truth at all times regardless.

How glad I was; I managed to get the real message to my Mum, who will in turn, pass on the message to her dependents and other associates.

Once upon a time, the general belief was that leadership was a trait from birth. And more so leadership was only ascribed to tall, handsome and well-connected individuals.

Obviously, that was an utter misconception. The fact of the matter is that leadership skills can be acquired through schematic tutorials or routine training.

Take, for example, the most recent research interest has been focusing on relationships between leaders and followers, with some experts on the topic stressing the need to study followership.

This has been argued over as useful, not so much because all leaders are also followers, but because modern notions of leadership place considerable emphasis on the power and importance of followers in legitimised leadership.

What is leadership?

Leadership can be considered to be the personal qualities, behaviours, styles and decisions adopted by the leader. In other words, it concerns how the leader carries out his/her role. Hence while the role of leader can be described in a job description, leadership is not so easily pinned down (Waldman and Yammarino (1999).

Waldman and Yammarino observed that early investigations, which focused on the personal characteristics or the behaviours of individuals who emerge as leaders, were followed by those that considered the influence of situational factors of leadership behaviour.

The all-important question then is: with so many people purporting to be leaders these days, how do we distinguish between a true leader and a demagogue?

To be able to do justice to the preceding question, we must pause, reflect summarily and ask: what is it that a leader is actually trying to achieve?

A true leader wants nothing more than to make people independent, as leaders in their own rights. And instead of trying to inebriate us with his or her rhetoric, a true leader reflects our own light back to us.

More importantly, a true leader always comes up with pragmatic ideas with the view to transforming the lives of his/her subordinates.

Biblically, for instance, Moses was a true leader. We read in Exodus that he was a shepherd - a rather unpretentious beginning for the man who would speak to God.

He kept watch as thousands of sheep grazed the fields. Moses noticed that one sheep was missing and went off to look for it, finding it at a distant apart.

When the sheep had finished drinking, Moses lifted it onto his shoulders and carried it back to the flock. When Jehovah God saw this, he became aware that Moses was a man of reason, empathy and selfless devotion, a man truly worthy to lead His people; a man who would put his empathetic qualities at the disposal of the needs of his subordinates.

After all, no one was keeping an eye on Moses; Moses could easily have thought to himself, “why be concerned with one sheep when there are thousands”?

Henceforth, my Mum and her likes will not vote for the voting sake, but they will rather vote based on the candidate’s competence, realistic campaign messages and integrity.

K. Badu, UK.

[email protected]

Kwaku Badu
Kwaku Badu, © 2019

This author has authored 738 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwakuBadu

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