This Week: Let’s teach leadership at every level



By Kelvin Esiasa

Of late I have been contemplating on why sometimes there has been a lot of leadership controversies in Africa.

Fred Swaniker writes that he started leadership academy because he was tired of complaining about the state of affairs in Africa and not doing anything about it.

He said that each  experience of living and working across Africa had made it clear that  the most important thing Africa needed to focus on to achieve real progress was improving the quality of its leaders. He also added that it become clear that addressing leadership problem by trying to reform existing leaders was a futile exercise Instead, it was important to systematically groom a whole new generation of leaders from scratch.

I have also shared with colleagues that Zambia and Africa at large needed to start teaching leadership as a course or subject at every level. I augured that there is great need for Africa to groom its future leaders so that it would be able to transform the continent into a haven of national aspirations.

It is on record that African countries have remained behind in term of development due to lack of quality leadership. In 2009, 2012 and 2013 The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership had failed to indentify an African leader who had expressed good leadership. But it continued to index the performances of the many African leaders.  John Nyaga (African East, Nation Media Group) notes that the Ibrahim Index is the most comprehensive collection of qualitative and quantitative data that assesses governance in Africa. It measures the delivery of public goods and services to citizens and uses indicators across four main categories: Safety and Rule of Law; Participation and Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development.

Meanwhile, Mfonobong Nsehe recently listed a number of worst African President in Forbes Magazines. He listed Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, (Guinea), José Eduardo dos Santos (Angola) Robert Mugabe, (Zimbabwe) King Mswati III (Swaziland) and Omar Al-Bashir(Sudan) as worst leaders in Africa. He mentioned that these Presidents had caused lot of havoc and suffering in their countries. He singled out King Mswati as one African leader that has shown greediness and has led to the collapse of the country. His gross mismanagement of his country’s finances was now having dire economic consequences.

It is in this regard that there is need to start teaching leadership as a course from elementary level to advanced levels.   There are a number of benefits that the nations can benefit if they were to teach leadership at an early stage. Good leadership does not come easily. It is an investment that need to be planted early and reap later. Leadership is a human relations skill that needs to be natured. Just as people have been taught mathematics from elementary to advanced levels leadership should be also be taught in this way.

A number of institutions that have set up leadership training platform have emphasized that leadership should be taught at a tender age. Franklin Covey’s Leadership explains that Great Leaders, Great Teams, Great Results program takes a process-oriented approach to developing great leaders who learn how to:

·         Build trust and influence with others.

·          Define their team’s purpose and their “job to be done.”

·         Create a strategic link between the work of the team and the goals of the organization.

·         Connect the work of the team to the organization’s economic model.

·         Align the four essential systems of execution, talent, core work processes, and customer feedback.

Harvard Business School explains the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School was created as a catalyst to achieve the School’s mission to: “…educate leaders who make a difference in the world.” Since its inception, HBS has been committed to shaping business leaders with the integrity and capacity to build world-class organizations. While Co-active leadership programme states that leadership development training helps people connect with the essence of unique leadership style and journey. It recognizes and embraces deepest strengths and learns how to bring authentic power of self-expression into all areas of life.

So Africa should start teaching her children leadership so that it could avoid the mistakes it has made in the past. Therefore I end by saying demanding good leadership style from a person who has never been taught leadership is like asking a horse to talk.

Kelvin Esiasa – President for Zambian Society for Public Administration and Society for Family Business.