Fail Again Or Show Competence

By Ikenga Chronicles June 5, 2019

Fail Again Or Show Competence

–Henry Oghwere,

Kenyans say it better “Ber telo en telo” translated “the benefit of power is power”. And one of the greatest asset given to man is the power of choice and with this comes responsibility to fulfill the pending need of leadership. This need is more often referred to as a public outcry for better decisions from those in power or positions of authority.

Unfortunately, we have discarded the age old counsel from the great Stephen Covey; “Personal leadership must precede public leadership”. The leader is the individual who has conquered his emotions and is in total control of his choices, character and consequences. When we find such level of personal leadership before public leadership, we agree that the leader has had personal victory. And this is always the case with all of us especially people in authority or perhaps this is a Utopian reality? 

The failure of personal leadership will result in irresponsible public leadership and leaves the beneficiary more disappointed and resentful of other aspiring leaders. The sad reality is that the failure of both personal and public leadership has become a recurring trajectory in present reality. We are therefore obliged to ask for competence from leaders and urge them to show impactful public leadership and to do this, we have to start from instigating ourselves to understand and perfect traits of personal leadership before going to hold public leaders accountable.

To buttress, leaders should be resourceful. The need for making the right decisions constantly can never be overemphasized. People want us to get it right at least in our lives before we step forward to take the role of leading others. The leader must be resourceful which means he or she must be willing to be very clever in solving problems as they arise. To be resourceful means to be willing to gather as much information necessary to create the right perception. The leader cannot assume because he has a hammer then every thing must be a nail. This narrow mindedness gives the impression that the leader lacks competence to make things work.

Leaders should use initiative. Beyond resourcefulness, the leader must be an initiator of solutions as an active participant. We are bored of people knowing what to do and vividly expressing it and waiting for others to take action on our behalf. People with slow initiative process make poor team players and sometimes find it difficult to accept that their ideas are perfectly implemented when they were being lackadaisical. Newton said it better “an object at rest remains at rest unless it is acted upon.” We are tired of restful leaders wanting accolades for doing nothing and we must replace that notion in our lives–wanting something for nothing. Action is everything for a leader and when you fail to act, you are going to be acted upon by life.

Leaders must be self managers. The ability to manage ourselves has become a precursor for effectiveness and good results. The method of allowing everything to decide your time and experience is a sign that you are not in control. Most people have been accustomed to the “if-then” reward system of their career that they unconsciously react to schedules and planners rather than purpose and mastery. This is often the root of “Fundamental Attribution Error” which is the miscalculation to think that people who are successful in their family life can make good leaders in other sectors without taking the situational factor into account. Or the notion that people who are successful in civil service can be successful with public service without understanding the politics involved in the latter.

Your career is necessary but should not be a hindrance to living an impactful life. Your life goes beyond one zone into different roles of family, friends, sportsman, singer, teacher, students and many areas of interest. Zoning your skills, attitude and knowledge into one pathway is pathetic and chaotic especially as you age into your latter years. A self manager gets into a situation and starts by discovering the factors that may affect their performance and immediately use initiative.

There are many more traits that culminate into great leadership and astounding literature on personal effectiveness and public leadership which will be necessary as you decide to grow. Nonetheless, let’s end with one indispensable trait;

Leaders must be ready for engagement. When people get into disagreement and argue for ego or ideas, the need for personal reflection kicks in. Socrates said it long ago “an unexamined life is not worth living”, and it has been validated by the annals of history. To examine your life, you require feedback which only comes from engaging people constantly to get their response. Personal reflection void of engagement is like riding a bicycle without a chain; there is no movement. You need to ask people especially friends and family to give you feedback on your resourcefulness, initiative, self-management and every other leadership trait that you can think about. The major reason why incompetence will continue to thrive in form of leadership is clear; most people think they know and in reality, they don’t know.

Self managers are good initiators, resourceful and can handle negative feedback from engagement. Rachel Carson said it aptly; “Mankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery — not of nature, but of itself.”  The decision to be a sterling leader is a choice of self and as you ponder, we must understand that leaders can no longer show incompetence. The need to develop personal leadership goes into influencing your friends, family and then the society. One good leader can make ten more and automatically, the leader has moved from private victory to public performance. Remember what immortal Emerson said; “what you do speaks so loud that I can hear what you say”.