11 June 2019

Liberia: A Lesson in Leadership

analysis

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations".

The date June 7, is now history but concerns about the future of the country under the leadership of President George Weah abound. Questions now linger on the minds of the public such as whether President Weah, a former star footballer with very little or no experience in politics, is indeed fit and proper to lead a post-conflict country that is Liberia.

Truth be told, President Weah has been a beneficiary of the general and popular perception as a man who has the country at heart. During the years of political turmoil and civil strife when the country was most isolated, it was football that the Liberian people looked up to for escape from the harsh realities of suffering and war. And George Weah turned out to be the face to which virtually all Liberians looked up to for hope and a change of fortunes.

And it was by no means surprising that youthful Liberians in their numbers threw their weight behind him to get him elected to the office of President. And it did not matter to them whether or not he was prepared to assume the role of leader of the country. And it did not matter whether he held dual nationality, was married to a non-Liberian or whether he did not possess academic qualifications.

Prior to his ascension to the presidency, President Weah had served as a senator in the national Legislature for a little over two years during the Ellen Sirleaf presidency. Granted that he lacked previous experience in government, his election to the Senate, nonetheless, was sure to provide him with the requisite experience which would or should have proven of essence to his success as President of Liberia.

In other words, it was all about leadership or the deficit of which was the source of the country's problems. In truth, Liberia which has suffered a leadership deficit over the years was in dire need of good and effective leadership and George Weah appeared to be and he presented himself as the person who could turn things around in Liberia for the better.

The June 7 protest and the developments which unfolded has called into question President Weah's leadership ability. It must be noted that good and effective leadership stands out when things are faring well and even when the going gets rough. An effective leader is respected, not feared, by people around them and they become motivated to work harder for the betterment of the country. In other words, leadership is about motivating and inspiring people to work together towards achieving set goals and objectives.

Thus, good leadership is important and essential to a well-functioning society and it is important to note that effective leadership is not about the titles or the trappings of office or the praises showered on the leader, it has to be earned through diligent efforts. In short, leadership is about working with people and motivating them to work together and cooperate with each other to achieve set goals and objectives.

Good leaders are humble and accountable and they are open-minded, always ready to listen to others. They have thick skin to weather criticisms of the harshest kind and they do not allow pride to suffuse their beings. They rely on respect that is earned and not their titles or position of authority and, finally, they are willing to accept responsibility for their actions and not blame others when things go wrong.

What then makes a good leader, is the question that follows: A good leader is decisive, he practices what he preaches and by his example induces others to follow. He leads from the front and not from the back. More to that, a good leader does not lose sight of his goals and objectives, He may not have all the answers but he is in constant search for answers, always looking at the greater picture. Additionally, a good and effective leader is passionate about what he does. He cares about the people he leads and works with.

Also, a good and effective leader is open minded and is always willing to listen to others, has a thick skin for criticism and is always willing to take responsibility for his actions when things go wrong. More to that, a good leader is self-confident, willing to take risks and take on challenges; he helps others to grow; communicates effectively and he gives credit where credit is due.

Looking back on June 7, this newspaper is constrained to point out that President Weah did not demonstrate true attributes of leadership by remaining holed out in his Foreign Ministry office not daring to venture out to meet the leadership of the protesters face to face to receive their petition. As events proved, all his fears and misgivings about plans to have him assassinated turned out to be false and not a single shot was fired or anyone attacked.

The protest ended peacefully but President Weah had virtually squandered the opportunity to assert himself as a true leader. As mentioned earlier, President Weah's refusal to meet the protesters face to face has only served to undermine his legitimacy and portray him as a weak and ineffectual leader who has surrendered his role and responsibility to others.

As it appeared, President Weah seemed to be out of touch with reality and had lost his common touch with the people. As a Pastor and man of God, he should be reminded of the words of the Prophet in the Book of Proverbs chapter 27 verse 23 thru 24: "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations".

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