By Baimba Shek Kamara, JD. (Law)
Perhaps one of the most important sets of skills to possess in our rapidly changing and complex world are those of leaderships. This has become painfully obvious, as we have continued to struggle to hold dominion over our own destiny in the quickly changing landscape of our society and workplace. Perhaps, because of effective leadership, or the lack thereof, that will determine if our cities, organizations, and governments continue to succeed, prosper and move forward; or if instead, they will become stagnant and die.
The word “leadership” means, literally, to “go in advance”.1 But what exactly is leadership and what makes someone a leader? Are you born with leadership ability or is it something you acquire and obtain during your life experiences? These questions have been posed many times before and have generated many different answers to them. Over time, various models have emerged to explain the leadership “phenomenon” during that period. The basic theories can be grouped into three distinct areas; trait, behavioral, and situational or contingency.
The trait theory concentrates on the personal characteristics of a good leader. That is, if you were to examine the traits or characteristics of great leaders throughout history, you would notice a common group of essential qualities that all of them seem to have possessed. It is by mastering these qualities that would enable people to emerge from the rest of the population, to separate themselves from the masses and to become a great leader that others were willing to follow.
Characteristics of Good Leaders:
The following section focuses on the various personal characteristics generally thought to be possessed by those who have been considered to be good leaders. Now it doesn’t mean that a good Leader will possess all of these traits, in fact, far from it. A good leader will exhibit varying degrees of these traits, some to a greater degree than others and some not at all. As you read through the list of personal characteristics, try to think about how somebody viewing you and your interactions with others would “rate” you for each one. Although some of these characteristics may be innate, there are many that someone would be able to work on and improve upon in their life. As others view these characteristics in you and recognize them as characteristics of a good leader, they will also come to view you as a good leader and somebody they would believe in and want to follow.
Personal Ambition Under Control:
Good Leaders must be able to have their personal ambitions under control.2 Although you may make it to the top with uncontrolled ambition, you will not stay there for very long. The people that you stepped on to get there will be aiming for you and the people that witnessed your rise to the top by any means necessary will neither trust you nor want to follow you. A good Leader will maintain his balance of right and wrong and maintains his integrity by keeping his ambition in check. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get to the top, but there is something wrong when you start to consider using shortcuts by any means necessary to get there. A good Leader helps his people grow and has a balanced perception of his people’s needs, his own needs, as well as the needs of the country as a whole; in this case in point (Sierra Leone). I strongly believe that the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has many of these qualities.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, by Voltaire.
“Don’t give power to people who can’t live without it”, by George Shultz.
Studies show that more and more leaders have acquired advanced education. They pursue knowledge from a variety of sources. They listen. They observe. They read every chance they get. They are constantly alert to opportunities to add to their store of information regarding...