• Power in itself corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
• This means without proper checks and balances at institutional level, many leaders can easily enjoy the trappings of power without fulfilling their mandates.
I have been reflecting on my leadership journey and what makes one to veer off the straight and narrow path to truly and faithfully serve the very people he or she swore to defend in accordance to the oath of office.
My thoughts are informed by the premise that indeed, most leaders are initially very committed to serving their constituents. They want to make a change and much as the competition for these rare chances to make history is usually arduous and stiff, there is a genuine desire to make a difference, even for the most self-seeking. This is because of the fact that we all have an innate desire to do good to society, and to leave a legacy after our time is done.
However, not all end up serving well or finishing strong. Majority fall by the wayside and aren’t able to fulfill their mandate as they would have wished to.
At some point, some things distract the leader from achieving his objectives as laid out in his vision for his people. So what really happens? Why do many well-intentioned, gifted and charismatic individuals turn the other way when everybody expects them to keep to the straight and narrow?
To begin with, the reality of leadership is such that for one to solve a certain issue that is bedeviling society, it takes a lot of commitment and determination to do so.
Many leaders thus get distracted due to so many competing interests to the extent that they fail to focus on the most important and impactful priorities. There is always so much society demands of them to be done with limited resources both human and capital.
Second, many leaders backslide when their efforts aren’t appreciated by the very people they are trying to help. This is born of the fact that since it’s the leader who bears the vision of where the society or organisation needs to go, the followers are usually impatient, cannot see the big picture and are too much engrossed in their silos to appreciate what it takes to ensure that real progress is made.
Soon, just like the Israelites in the desert, they start grumbling that things are even worse than they really are, and that they were better off in the previous circumstances. This state of affairs can easily discourage leaders as it flies in the face of their efforts to resolve often complex problems and situations that require more than simplistic solutions or knee jerk reactions.
Third, leaders are likely to backslide when there is internal rebellion and sabotage from within their own team. This is usually informed by the fact that some people within the team are in constant search for vantage positions, which ameliorate their circumstances for futuristic political duels or ventures. There is need for teams to properly align with the vision of the leader, to create synergies that deliver the results, while allowing the leader to lead effectively. Personal growth can still be realised within this context.
Fourth is the issue of scarcity of resources.
Most leaders give up or give in when resources are inadequate to meet the needs of the people, or the task ahead. This manifests due to the fact that there are immediate needs to be met on one hand, versus long term, painstaking but impactful pathways in resolving the very problems.
At this point, there is a tendency to deal with the pressing needs that usually procure immediate political gratification rather than trying to resolve the systemic cause of the problem in the first place. The masses usually have a very short memory span and, therefore, don’t really scratch the surface enough as to provide that necessary gravitas for leaders to be motivated in pursuing long-term solutions.
Another demotivation for leaders is the negative energy from opponents that constantly pour cold water on their efforts. There are always naysayers whose voices are amplified by the media in an effort for the fourth estate to find oddity in otherwise mundane occurences.
Further, power in itself corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This means without proper checks and balances at institutional level, many leaders can easily enjoy the trappings that come with their offices without fulfilling their mandates.
Finally, when time is running out, people tend to give up or do last minute decisions that aren’t well thought out, yet they can have serious ramifications in the long run.
It is, therefore, very important for any visionary to be persistent and constituent in order to achieve results by following through his or her plan, with the necessary adjustments to attain his or her goals in the long run.
Surrounding oneself with people who truly believe in your vision also goes a long way in ensuring the follow through of a shared common sense of purpose.
Real power is thus being able to attain one’s goals as intended within a dynamic ever changing space for those who define power are the ones who pursue to win it incrementally, despite the very uncertainty of its intangibility.