Chasing the dots ... Leadership, Respect and the MindBy: CHRIS SMITH
OVER 40 years of working in various environments has exposed me to multiple forms of thinking and leadership.
I have seen the barrel of a gun lot, those who spend their period in power hiding behind a legal façade and various combinations of these traits representing positional power and usually defending the “status quo” and I have seen those with the courage to embrace change and give authority to the people under their wing through positional power based upon respect, honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour. And makes things happen. Indeed in many positions I have assumed leadership positions hoping that I am viewed under the latter case in general.
However I am the first to admit that personal judgements of leadership qualities are subjective and context related. I suspect running a jail full of proven violent criminals will require a different style to running the school fete! Thus when the Nahas vs Alfredo battle occasionally rears its head it is pertinent to realise that Nahas sits in the leadership seat, obviously frustrated by his limited powers over both his Office and his broader responsibilities and the Alfredo academic position where, like most columnists, raise valid criticisms but often few solutions from the ivory tower!
Nahas makes valid criticism about those who are in protected and well remunerated positions outside Namibia. In a way I sympathise with the Nahas comment that Alfredo does not offer “right characteristics” needed at our top level of leadership but then Alfredo’s analysis, partially based upon the seeming rising anarchy of our neighbour and leading the ANC is into an chaotic scenario as issues are pushed into the background while “leadership” demands focussed upon personal gain appear more important. A partial parallel with Swapo does seem to have some validity, especially when Julius Malema’s visit is cancelled to avoid upsetting the ANC!
Looking at my own experiences I find that a “checklist” approach of what constitutes a good leader does not work beyond eliminating the basic “no-nos”. I find that good leaders do not fit in boxes and that those I have had most respect for had two main characteristics, respect and trust. Sure there must be some basic common ground in direction but the handling of disagreement is more important than coming to agreement.
I look at “Uncle Sam” who, as our leader, I disagreed on many points but I accepted his leadership. Recently I had a “eureka” moment when I saw QEII in Northern Ireland shaking hands with Martin McGuiness, an ex-IRA leader.
Ancient family history over the years has shaped my views on Ireland and when I watched the symbolic moment of the handshake revulsion did not rear its head; instead I found myself realising the moment represented a genuine step forward in a seemingly insoluble problem. My respect for the leadership of QEII and her ways suppressed my own rather more bigoted views. I felt incredible trust in her actions. Equally, and possibly more grudgingly, I felt a spurt of respect for McGuiness for having moved on from his murdering ways!
For Namibia I find myself slightly more trapped in the quest for leadership. I find those representing the law who reject the law and those negotiating economic matters who get large consulting fees, difficult to support.
Looking around I find few candidates with needed qualities but despite his poor record in many areas at OPM I do find Nahas as someone I could respect and might make real changes. He does express opinions openly, which I suspect is honest! Such is leadership.