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Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Leadership is not a fairy tale

Many books and articles have been produced on this all-pervasive topic – leadership. What’s significant at all time is your personal experience in the field. How do you see leadership? When was the first time you experienced it? What were the mistakes you made? How did those misjudgments help you climb the ladder? Remember that, man is a leader till s/he departs from the earth.

There are two forms of leaders in our world today. I’ve classified them into formal and informal leaders. President of Ghana, President of America, Secretaries, Ministers, CEO’s, Board of Directors, Student Council Presidents and Members of Parliament are classic examples of formal leaders. These persons came about through a mandate given to them by a group of people. Yet while they are given the mandate of rule, those in the informal ladder assumed the role for themselves. Mention could be made of fathers, mothers, elder brothers, elder sisters, activists, advocates and Class teachers. These persons assume roles for themselves.

The first major opportunity for me as a leader came when I was in the final year in Abuakwa State College, Kyebi in the Eastern Region of Ghana. I was voted as the Prep Prefect of the school and also doubled as the President of the Abusco General Arts Students Association (AGASA) for the academic year. With these roles came new and different way of behaving, dressing and talking. I learned to be honest, loyal to the cause; humble for the opportunity and hopeful of achieving the grand objectives set before me. I imbibed these attributes into my being. I needed them so I internalized them. I embraced the opportunity and bolstered my confidence through addressing assembly and sitting in meetings with school officials. I made many mistakes large enough to fill three chapters of any book. Yet little did I know that, these experiences would be tapped into for my leadership roles in University of Ghana, Legon and at the national level as the Press and Information Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS).

Through all these, I learned that flare of leadership has to come from the heart and the mind. With the mind ideas emanates for the leader to press on in the face of tumultuous times and with the heart the leader is filled with gratitude for the contribution of every one of his men for the journey thus far. Leadership is not a once off event. It’s a process that the major industry players in our world today could testify. It’s never enough to say it’s over till your last breath on earth. The learning curve continues to make its impression on you. You continue to make mistakes but not ordinary ones like you did when you first entered into the craft. You’re faced with tougher challenges that beg tougher actions from you. You grow tougher for job ahead.

Another significant thing I’ve learned is that, the difference between the leader and the led is the amount of information the leader wields. As a leader, your best pals are books on just about any important topics and about persons who have been in the shoes you’re wearing today. Leaders don’t just admire books. They read them from cover to cover. The moment a leader stops reading, s/he stops leading automatically. This is because, leadership is best inspired by learning the examples of others. You do this by internalizing and adopting as your own their; philosophies, hopes and plans.

Leadership is not a birthday party; it’s not a fairy tale recounted for your delight. It’s a serious business entered by the positive for the future. This is a life journey that never ends. It continues.