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Opinions of Monday, 7 August 2006

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Bad Leadership In Ghana?

After looking at hundreds of contemporary cases involving bad leaders in the private, public and non-profit sector, Barbara Kellerman, in her book, Bad Leadership: what it is, how it happens, why it matters, posits the following typology of bad leadership.

Bad leadership is defined as ineffective and unethical leadership by both leaders and followers. I want you to note the inclusion of followers in this definition. It is rather critical and brings a tangy, if not spicy, focus to the issue of leadership. Here is Kellerman again, “So bad leadership is not solely the fault of a few bad leaders. We are all, every one of us, in this together.” (P.14) Kellerman maintains that, bad leaders are incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular and evil. The first three attributes can be held under the umbrella of Ineffectiveness Leadership and the last four fall under Unethical leadership.

Below are definitions of these attributes of bad leaderships:

Incompetent Leadership: The leader and at least some followers lack the will or skill (or both) to sustain effective action. With regard to at least one important leadership challenge, they do not create positive change. Example is Juan Antonio Samaranch and the Olympic scandal.

Rigid Leadership: The leader and at least some followers are stiff and unyielding. Although they may be competent, they are unable or unwilling to adapt to ideas, new information, or changing times. Example, Mbeki and the AIDS situation in South Africa.

Intemperate Leadership: The leader lacks self control and is aided and abetted by followers who are unwilling or unable effectively to intervene. Example, former mayor Marion Barry of Washington DC

Callous Leadership: The leader and at least some followers are uncaring or unkind. Ignored or discounted are the needs, wants, and wishes of most members of the group o organization, especially subordinates. Example, Al “chainsaw” Dunlap, formerly of Sunbeam Corporation.

Corrupt Leadership: The leader and at least some of his followers, lie, cheat, or steal. To a degree that exceeds the norm, they put their self interest ahead of the public interest. Example is William Aramony of United Way.

Insular Leadership: The leader and at least some of his followers minimize or disregard the health and welfare of “the other” --- that is, those outside the group or organization for which they are directly responsible. Example is Bill Clinton on the Rwanda Massacre or George Bush on Liberia.

Evil Leadership: The leader and at least some of his followers commit atrocities. They use pain as an instrument of power. The harm done to men, women and children is severe rather than slight. The harm can be physical, psychological or both. Examples are Foday Sankoh, Radovan Karadzic.

Folks, notice that I have stayed away from injecting my own examples from Ghana. It is not for fear or any such reason that I desist from doing that. Instead, I want you to read carefully the definitions and come to your own conclusions. You can weight these attributes and use them in making your judgment on the kind of leadership that we have and continue to experience in Ghana. My goal here is to give you a kind of framework or template to work with. If it serves your purpose, add other categories that might be relevant to our own situation and experience. Hopefully, this will guide your decision come 2008, especially those swing voters. Even if you’ve voted in your stern mind already because of tribal, economic or partisan reasons, the typology can still help you to work your party from within. Doing such behind closed doors can still be referred to as progress.

Hopefully, you will do this exercise with friends and family. Here is what I recommend, do it personally first and then do it with friends and family. That way, you folks can compare notes and come to some form of informed position on what leadership should not be. I pray that you work a heavy dose of objectivity in your efforts. Think about one thing and one thing only, the people of Ghana.

Of course the question of what leadership should be is the other side of the coin that we will tackle. Surely before 2008 rolls around. There will be enough grist for the mill. I sincerely believe that an informed consumer is the best consumer. Viva Ghana!

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.