Leadership Lessons From Ghana’s 2020 General Elections

Every individual has a political right. In other words, we have the right to join any political association of our choice. Furthermore, we have the right to vote for any political party we fancy. The 1992 constitution of Ghana mandates this right. It underpins the fact that no one has the absolute power to muzzle any individual based on his or her political right. Once the person attains the legitimate age of 18 years and above, he or she qualifies to exercise his or her political franchise. Indeed, politics is a way of life. It has to do with people and the choices they make on a daily basis.

As a nationalist, I prefer to weigh political issues from a non-partisan slant. The 2020 General Elections, both at the presidential and parliamentary levels have given us an insight into life’s lessons. I believe every wise person should glean great lessons on the rise and fall of candidates in that year’s political contest and apply their circumstances to all porticos of our endeavours. Thus, I bring to the fore, time-tested issues of great concern that are intended to change our persuasions forever:

1.     No position is permanent;

2.     Pride and self-centred leadership are dangerous to good governance;

3.     Your success or fall depends on the people you lead;

4.     The need to develop a Core Tempo for your people;

5.     Citizens’ ultimate responsibility.

No Position is Permanent

Nothing we so desire in this world is everlasting. Whether it is political position, power or influence, it doesn’t last forever. Therefore, be mindful when you occupy any position of authority. Yes, nothing in this life is permanent. Take the case of Members of Parliament who lost their seats; it indicates that the electorate cannot be taken for granted. Electorates of nowadays are extra-wise and they know whom to accept and those to show the exit door. Well, some may argue that some constituents may be churlish or unappreciative but the big lesson is, politicians should learn to stay humble, focused and become purposeful in their line of duty. The reason is that, nothing is everlasting. You have a limited time to work. Therefore, on the job, you either stay above the status quo or maintain the existing state of affairs. If you fail to do so and slump below the bar, your exit will never appear shocking.

Anyway, your core responsibility as politicians is to help serve people through the development of your constituencies and for that matter, the nation as a whole. Until social and economic developmental projects become your topmost priority, your position(s) will hang in a limbo. Stay humble and wear this thinking cup - true democracy belongs to the people and if you underperform, the citizens will show you where you belong. In any case, no condition is permanent.

Pride and Self-Centred Leadership Skills are Dangerous to Good Governance

Leadership is about service. Your position gives you power to lead people towards the attainment of the bigger picture - goal. True leadership is not about the position you occupy; it is about making people’s lives better. I have come to the realisation that, most people want to be led but they will not easily follow someone that appears contemptible, disreputable, despicable and above all, has an arrogant attitude. In other words, well-meaning followers will refuse to place their trust in the hands of an unproven leader who does not know where he or she is going.

Politicians (specifically, incumbent Members of Parliament) who lost their seats in parliament, probably didn’t fully get in touch with their constituents and maybe focused their attention on other issues and possibly, hid themselves under the umbrella of complacency. When things are left to chance, the power of the electorate’s thumb does the magic – they show you the red card. Until you learn to understand the dynamics of the human mind, nothing you do as a leader will impress them. For your information, the human mind is impressed with and aligned towards change. Therefore, do what will cause a lift in the lives of the people you lead either within your constituency or the nation as a whole.

Remember, when developmental projects are not done on time till the election year, wise electorates weigh all the options. Modern-day election is teaching us about the critical concerns of man. A critical research should be conducted in identifying the most important needs within a constituency and with perfect timing, executed to the letter. Any leader who disrespects his or her subordinates without any justifiable cause plans for his or her own downfall. When you delay projects till the last minute before you ‘spray’ cash around, most wise electorates will deceive you. Some may accept the bribe or backhander but ultimately disappoint you. It is time we shifted our focus from pride and complacency and redirected our attention towards excellence in leadership which creates development in all facets of the society – healthcare, business, education, culture, science and technology, media handling and improvement in good governance. 

Politicians should know that the average Ghanaian is not looking for an arrogant leader. He/she is not looking for that leader in that four-wheel drive who is only interested in power at the expense of the development of their community. The outcome of 2020 General Elections has proven to most legislators that constituents have no time for gratified and self-centred leaders. Thus, when a strong contender shows up, electorates quickly gear up to shift camp and signal that they should be taken seriously.

The drift here is that we should lay off our pride and conduct self-assessment to determine if we are really moving to the next phase of our priority module. Life presents a lot of challenges to us. It is left with us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and humbly deal with the latter whilst increasing the magnitude of the former in order to up our game.

Your Success or Fall Depends on the People You Lead

In real life situations, your success or downfall depends on the people you lead. The moment you take people (your subordinates) for granted, your fall begins. If you are a leader in an organisation, college, ecclesiastical setting or in a community, you have a herculean task. You have to identify the core needs of the people and intelligently meet them. Humans are agents of change. If they are not comfortable with you, you better look for ways of developing your skills to meet their sensitivity else prepare for the worse. When you continually undermine the worth of your subordinates, you should as well, make the attainment of your vision a forgettable experience.

As a leader, your responsibility is to love the people you lead. Do not throw your weight about and disgrace your subordinates in public, forgetting that your success or fall depends on them. Most offices in our country needs orientation in the way we handle employees or subordinates. Sometimes, we are unable to remember that those who work hard to uplift the image of the organisation may be at the base of the ladder. Out of extreme anger, some managers side-line the very people who can be of a great support to them and rather pick yes-men in building weak structures which may not be in the interest of the growth of the organisation.

If you allow your position or wealth to eat you up without building a cordial relationship with clear-minded subordinates, you make one of the greatest mistakes in life. It doesn’t mean that unscrupulous subordinates shouldn’t be penalized, rather, my point is that, we should always ask ourselves if our actions are timely and relevant.  Do you know that your progression or retrogression is tied down to those selfless employees you lead? Therefore, treat them well. Be cautious of the words you use on them. Treat people with respect, else their silence breeds discomfort in your organisation.

Lead with people as your focus. Apologise where necessary. Bring your people on board through the power of association and build a system where apathy or indifference becomes very minimal. Where necessary, give the right people the opportunity to unearth their skills, talents and potentials. That is the strength of any wise leader. It is in the light of this self-awareness that your success will soar higher like the strength of an eagle.

Develop a Core Tempo for your people

What is the rhythm of your life? What is your peculiarity which attracts people to your space? When people continually withdraw from you, you better sit up to assess your lifestyle. Maybe the way you talk to them, or the way you carry yourself may not be the best. Make this self-assessment in knowing what repels or attracts people’s attention to your core mandate. I choose to call it a tempo as in the musical mode. Apart from the lyrics or librettos of a song, the speed (either fast or slow) becomes a major determinant of the immensity of such a tune.

This analogy is like policies (either economic or social) that must be developed in making lives better in a country. The significance of this core tempo suffuses or saturates leadership in every aspect of life, whether we discuss leadership within the family, church, corporate organisation or any field of endeavour. Since national political affairs touch each one of us and because the media applies such detailed and extensive analysis to those involved in the political ring, the world of politics provides the most accessible leadership at the moment. When your tempo is untimely, the flow of the song fails to impress your constituents.

Electorates are looking for leaders to give them the right tempo to enjoy the beauty of that song – livelihood. In leadership, a core tempo can also be classified as a LID. It is the most intriguing or functional skill, idea, word, or action-oriented policy that easily moves people to fall in love with your unconventionality.

I am of the view that we cannot have a perfect system, but with a rhythm of discipline to the cause of a good socio-economic policy, a good system can be developed, regardless of where we find ourselves. We should work in unison to build a better nation. Once you are controlled by any distasteful subordinate who carries an ulterior motive, you will reach nowhere. This is what has reflected in some of the incumbent Members of Parliament who have lost their seats.  No matter how morally upright you are, electorates, voters, or citizens are looking for a core tempo. Conduct a proper research in identifying it to advance your career.

Our Ultimate Responsibility

Whether your political party is in power or not, the core principle of patriotism or nationalism must be our anchor. The key variables to the attainment of any corporate vision have been the leader, the task at hand, the environment and the people involved. As citizens of this nation, we have a task to perform. We have a duty to perform wherever we may find ourselves. We cannot sit on the fence and expect only a select few to build this nation.

Almost 65 years of sovereign rule, we have to help develop our country. Ghana needs better roads with street lights in all the 275 constituencies.  Politicians should wake up from their slumber and commit themselves to building a better nation for all of us. Our healthcare system, rich culture, science and technology, business, education, and the totality of our governance system should move to a higher level.

We have to fight corruption and bring it to the barest minimum in all sectors of our economy. We have all the resources to make Ghana better. What we need is the commitment to implement good policies devoid of biases and ethnocentrism. Competent people should be given the chance to work. The government must be closer to the people in building a solidified country which can become the beacon of hope not only for Africa but the world at large. After Election 2020, Ghana must go back to the drawing board in asking what exactly we want to achieve as a country and work together towards it. In our own little way, I respectfully charge all citizens to contribute their quota to help build a better Ghana.

To those who have lost their seats in parliament, it is not over. Sit back and do your homework properly and come back stronger in the year, 2024. To the new Members of Parliament, I congratulate you all on your efforts. Remember, the people must be your focus. Let us all join our forces together in making our country, greater and stronger!

Long Live Ghana…Long Live Our Rich Democracy…Long Live Africa.

The writer is an Academic, Visiting lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with the WordSprings City Church, Kumasi-Ghana