Feature Article of Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Columnist: Otchere, John N. K.
In his book “Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership,” Howard Gardner, an American psychologist defined a leader as “an individual (or, rarely, a set of individuals) who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals.” From the context of this definition, a leader can be seen as a person who is responsible, trusted, consistent, honest, and faithful. Leadership therefore exemplifies integrity and willingness to make sacrifices for the good of the governed.
Public leadership, in whatever form, is demanding due to the enormous and complex responsibilities involved. A public leader must therefore be upright, consistent, responsible, and accountable for results in order to offer valuable services to his society.
Ironically, some of our political leaders have not measured up to these qualities, hence have not performed well in office. Their actions and inactions have often reflected a commitment for personal gains rather than promoting the economic development of the country. In exercise of their duties, they have failed to set good examples of honesty and truthfulness, and thus, betrayed the confidence bestowed upon them before assuming civil positions.
Responsive leadership deals with the affairs and welfare of the society. For this reason, our political leaders must bear in mind that they are accountable to the public in their decision-making. Though, for a public leader to be responsible, he must have the liberty to exercise powers conferred on him for the execution of his duties; this freedom must be guided by equity and fairness to avoid its misuse against the citizenry. Regrettably, some of our political leaders have acted outside this norm, and consequently allowed their actions to impact negatively on public good. Decision-making is no longer governed by objectivity, transparency and accountability. We can see this in the way and manner some of them have misused state funds for projects that do not benefit the public but to satisfy the whims and caprices of few individuals.
It is important to emphasize that we cannot move forward as a nation unless there is a deliberate and concerted effort on the part of our leaders to see themselves accountable for their actions and inactions and implement policies that seek the welfare of the citizenry.
We are a nation in want; lacking basic infrastructure for economic development. Our education, health, energy, road, agriculture, and other social sectors need improvement. Our schools (from primary to tertiary institutions) require modern learning materials and tools; hospitals must be adequately equipped; our roads need improvement to reduce accidents and road fatalities; and alternative power generation are among the many basic social needs calling for urgent attention in Ghana today.
To be able to meet these needs, our political leaders must learn to make sacrifices, and put in place realistic development measures to improve the living conditions of the deprived. They must see themselves as owing Ghanaians a collective responsibility to implement programs that contribute to the economic development of the country. This is absolutely necessary because responsive leadership is all about achieving results for public good.