Opinions Mon, 17 Feb 2014

Mahama seriously needs leadership training!

Most of us are familiar with the popular biblical quote that says that “For lack of knowledge, my people perish”. I think it’s appropriate that, in the case of African leaders we paraphrase it this way: “For lack of effective leadership and wisdom, Africans will forever perish”. Too bad! Right? But that’s the reality we live in. I say this with no offences to anyone, but, “the most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”

This is especially true when it comes to leadership because, true leaders must be counted upon to lead others to better circumstances and better ways to accomplish what is needed. This requires a combination of an in-depth understanding, a keen desire to provide value to others, the self-confidence and wisdom to take charge and show what is needed and what must be done.

I have being a manager for a small company and have since been managing approximately 45 associates for almost a year and half now. This may sound to some of you as a novice in leadership experience. However, one unique soft skill I have acquired as a mentored manager is that, while I can train some of my associates in many necessities and skills required for effective leadership, it is their vision and how it drives them that differentiate the true leader from simply someone with certain skills and abilities.

Fortunately for me, my company’s director also happens to be my mentor at the same time. She always tells me that ‘Peter’, vision, when it comes to leadership, means understanding not only what is, and what has been, but identifying what should and must be, and how to get to that position. To me, this is perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of leadership training.

The bottom line is that great leaders even enjoy some degree of fulfilment. And the fact is that those leaders who lack vision, may not immediately recognize true needs like the one with vision does. This means, it can often be both frustrating and lonely for that leader. This is exactly what our beloved president; John Mahama is going through right now.

My recent visit to Ghana has really broadened my understanding of the visionless and limited management skills obsessed by African leaders like President John Mahama. You will all agree with me that, it is generally a leader’s vision that drives him to personally commit above and beyond what others may not be willing to do. It also drives him to care more, do more, sacrifice more, and understand more than others. My feeling is that President Mahama was actually not mentally and physically ready to lead Ghana into the tech-world 21st century.

Of course not! He was appointed (not elected) as a vice president, and luckily had the opportunity to become president for taking advantage of his personal friend and predecessor’s sudden departure from the world. Was he truly elected? I don’t wanna go through the details at this time because that is debatable!

However, I happened to be in Ghana on August, 29, 2013 when the judgment on the historic Supreme Court election petition was passed. Even though I was too busy at the time dealing with family emergencies to have an extra time to meddle with the details, I still remember vividly how the political jubilation, disappointment and the general atmosphere looked like. I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to witness this historic and memorable day in Ghana’s infant rule of law and tolerance.

Great leaders do understand that they must not only encourage followers, but need to develop future leaders, and they sell their vision as a primary reason for others to wish to ascend to leadership. I don’t think my fellow Ghanaians will argue with me about this when it comes to the leadership style in Africa.

None of the presidents think about doing something new and extraordinary. I wonder if an African leader such as President John Mahama will ever think about the word “productivity” and start to implement KRONOS system at the various government work places to track productivity. To me, that will be a miracle! I guarantee you that president Mahama doesn’t know what ‘Kronos’ clock-in system and how HR uses it to track employee productivity is all about. Probably, he has never ever heard about it, because they don’t simply READ! That’s what we call the “educated ignorance in the 21st century”.

Prof. Alvin Toffler says: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. Of course those who have never had a formal education and for that matter, cannot read or write will be in the worst case scenario. But the educated idiots and ignorant will be very miserable as well.

For example, if you attended a business school in the 1970s with a degree in MBA-Corporate Finance and has since not retrained yourself in Financial Analytics or Business intelligence, you are living in a ‘fool’s paradise’ thinking you still have and use your Finance degree. Well, if only you will forever live in the third world under president Mahama’s rule, then you are saved! But if unfortunately, you are ever nominated by your company as an expert to give a speech or contribute to a discussion in any developed world, then good luck with your 1974 (40-year old) MBA degree in Corporate Finance! No offenses to anyone please, but that’s the world we live in today.

President Mahama really needs help, without any reservations, please! He’s rapidly becoming an obsolete figure in management repertoire. He just needs the soft skills to help him think in the 21st century tech revolution. Let’s all put our pride somewhere for now and help him out. I think he needs only 13 ministries to handle just 25 million people for now.

Just refine, reform and change some of the names of the ministries. It’s about time that we changed the names of ministries of Agriculture and Transportation to that of Food security and Roads and Public Safety respectively. This will reflect and clearly define the job functions of the respective sector ministers in charge. That will also make them responsible and accountable to the people. “Ministry of Agriculture” is just too vague a term and will never give them some sense of accountability or commitment.

But the most important thing is that, the president MUST listen to some of his constructive critics. Unfortunately, he’s creating more ministries and increasing government spending unnecessarily. It’s not his fault, but it’s due to the fact that, he has no vision and doesn’t intend to create any visionary ideas either. All he knows is; how former presidents Kwame Nkrumah, K. A Busia, H. Liman, J.J Rawlings, J.A Kuffour, and J.E.A Mills did it so let’s do it that way. He has no innovative ideas. Yes! We’ve derailed from the rail track for almost 57 fiscal years now. Please, let’s figure out how we can get back on the track, and that’s it!

The fact is that leaders fail mostly because they are: clueless, incompetent, ignorant, inexperienced, naive, lack understanding or knowledge. They may also be reckless, careless, irresponsible, uncaring, inattentive, mindless, thoughtless, feckless, ineffective, lacking thought, lacking the organizational soft skills necessary to succeed. The worst case scenarios are that THEY ARE SIMPLY visionless!! This also means that they absolutely lack intelligent foresight and purpose and are usually uninspired.

According to Mike Myatt in his latest book “Hacking Leadership”; when you strip away all the excuses, explanations, rationalizations and justifications for organization failure, you’ll find only one plausible reason that is poor leaders and leadership.

Let’s demand that our leaders have a vision to lead them on. Let’s demand that they explain fully to us, what are the goals, why it is essential, the course of action and plans and how it will take the country into the future through more relevant and sustainable ways.

Following the normal corporate “standard work” and simple accountability will greatly help our president. District Chief Executives, DCEs and Municipal and District Chief Executives, MDCEs could report to their respective regional ministers, while regional ministers in turn report to the sector ministers, and sector ministers will report to the cabinet on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis; that is the way forward.

Leaders in Ghana MUST be accountable for their actions. That’s what managers and effective leaders do. Moreover, the president should think about finding a way to elect the DCEs and MDCEs instead of appointing them. It breeds corruption. I’ll come to that later, but for now, our president seriously needs some kind of leadership training. Unfortunately, the presidential seat is not, and cannot be an internship program to train people! A word to the wise is enough! Thanks.

By: Peter Osei-Adjei

Columnist: Peter Osei-Adjei