Leadership and Development!

We have indicated in another article that people, both collectively and as distinct individuals, are the core pillar of development! As such, they initiate development goals and programmes and plans for such goals. They draw up the development agenda and also implement all the plans! They, too, provide the human capital at every stage of development! In a nutshell, they are the brains behind all development and they provide the  skills, expertise, and both the resources and labour for such development, whether that is in the form of technologies, methodologies, monetary resources, skills, expertise, or any other input required at any stage of the development agenda, from initiation through to completion and even in any maintenance of the same as need be! Generally speaking, development takes the form of projects, in the form of capital projects. It can also take the form of reforms (economic, legal, judicial, environmental, social, political,  service delivery, educational, hearth, etc.). History indicates that leadership is key to development! As such, we consider it a pillar of development. It may also be considered part and parcel of the human aspect as the core pillar of development! Why is leadership important for development?

What is leadership? In our view, leadership is about people! Leaders lead people, executives and managers manage resources. Good executives and managers are effective leaders in their own right! A leader leads the way. His followers follow! That, in simple terms, entails what a leader is!  Many people wrongly assume that a leader is someone who keeps ordering people around and commanding them to do things for him! That notion tends to justify, albeit wrongly, tyranny in leadership! Tyrants, are never effective leaders. They rely on force, coercion and on instilling fear in others. As this article is not about leadership per se, let it suffice to say that true leadership, in our view, is people-centred and hence the necessity of the democratic practices and persuasion in the leadership process! Leadership is crucial for development! Good leadership affects development and economic growth positively! Let us look at an example!

Kenya struggled over the years with the issue of development due to intolerant leadership for decades  since its independence in 1963. Then came the clamour for freedom, democracy and pluralism! The people found courage to talk against oppressive practices including intolerance and single-party tyranny! The KANU regime of the time tried using its usual tactics of cracking down on the people but they found that that was no longer working! Why? Because tyranny never works at all! It just represses free expression just for a time! The then president of Kenya, D.T. Moi, had to give in to pressure and allow reforms. Even then, after some reforms that reduced the tenure of any presidential term to a maximum of two terms of five years each, Moi, who had already been in office for over ten years, insisted he had to start afresh with a first term. That is always the problem with bad leadership. It always looks for any excuse to stick to leadership and try to kill freedom and democracy! All in all, Moi continued for another ten years (i.e. two EXTRA terms) and then Kenya elected another leader in the first free and fair elections since Kenya’s independence from British rule! Mwai Kibaki, an economist and seasoned but reserved politician, soon made good governance felt by majority of Kenyans. Freedom of speech flourished! Major capital projects were initiated and completed. Many more projects that had fallen prey to corruption and abandoned during the Moi regime were completed! Of course there were problems with corruption as some people very close to Kibaki were accused of involvement in some corrupt deals and a few hiccups involving problems with the media. However, all in all, Kibaki did make a difference! If Kenya’s current leadership also borrow a leaf from Kibaki and allows freedom to flourish, it can also make a breakthrough in development!

A good leader is like a shepherd who never abandons his flock of sheep or herd of goats. Of course the people are never like sheep and goats. That is why they are the ones who elect their leaders. They can also put their leaders on their toes so that they can deliver. They can apply pressure on their leaders to stop and end any corruption, abuse of power and privilege and other excesses. In democracies, leaders never rule over the people. The people rule themselves through a system of good laws, practices, customs and norms normally referred to as the rule of law. A leader in a democracy is subject to the rule of law.  The law, as enacted, or as in precedents, as implemented and practised, is also subject to the rule of law. Even the supreme law is subject to the rule of law. Many argue that it is the supreme law that is the rule of law. In our view, the rule of law is much more than that. It is centred on judicious and fair interpretation of laws, including the supreme law, and systems of customs, good reason and common sense, cultural and moral vales and norms that are unique to the people in the jurisdiction. The rule of law is like the conscience of a nation or country or state while the constitution is a contract document that dictates the way the people want to be governed by those they elect!  What is a leader’s role then? That is indeed the crux of the matter indeed! Why does one leader make a difference in society while another drives it backwards? Simple, it comes to good and bad leadership styles. Leadership, all leadership, is, and must be, people-centred! A leader gives direction, policy, strategy, guidance, vision and mission! Execution goes to the technocracy and the people! If a leader is erratic, disoriented, do you expect any direction from him/her?


What to ask a leader is: “where do we go from here?”  If he tells you:  “tell me”, then you know that he is a true leader. If he tells you “just follow me”, then you  know that he is either  inept or that he assumes that the people are stupid! If he orders you: “do this, do that, etc.,”!, then you know that he is probably naive and ignorant! People should be courageous enough to elect good leaders for development! Good leaders are key to the success of nations, societies, communities, organizations, etc. Development is thus about the people, including leaders! Good leadership puts confusion ever at bay! That is why it is best for development! Once a good leader knows where the people want to go, he will provide direction thereto and lead the way there!  If people want true development, a good leader will lead the people there! Corruption, a good leader knows, kills development! That alone is key! Corruption is never practised nor condoned by good leaders! Discrimination and exclusion are also forms of corruption!

All people anywhere and everywhere want development! That is why the people themselves should always elect good leaders! Such leaders do make a world of positive difference in terms of development! Leadership, good leadership, is a core pillar of development! It does matter greatly!

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