Challenging the rulers: a leadership model for good governance
One of the fundamental principles of effective leadership has remained the same for generations simply because leadership touches on human relations. What often changes are the tactics that leaders employ to get things done depending on the needs. Therefore, as we look at leadership that is effective in this century, we are not in any way re-inventing the wheel. Domesticating past leadership styles to suit current realities is the way to begin. Not all styles of leadership are effective in the same sense. It was fine long ago to embrace leaders who used command or who employed what is known as the boss syndrome. This kind of leadership, although used in some quarters, has proved to be less effective in the present world. The “do as I say” leader will face a reasonable amount of resistance. Times have changed and so should the style of leadership. The command leadership style of yesteryear simply cannot bear results in a world that is more liberal. Commanders, even in the military, have learned there are better ways to achieve results with followers in today’s world. Leadership has been studied through three theoretical frameworks at different points in time. First, in the 1930 and early 1940s, most scholars based their research and writings on trait theories. The emphasis of these theories was that individual characteristics of leaders are different from those of the non-leaders. The premise of this school was that leaders were born, not made. Such leaders were the so called “big men” whose names sometimes would not be mentioned in public. Realising that the traits alone cannot capture the qualities and the achievements of some leaders, leadership studies came to include aspects of special behaviours that make leaders stand out. Scholars in the 1940s and the 1950s examined who and what leaders are based, on behavioural theories. The premise of these theories is that behaviours of effective leaders are different from those of ineffective leaders. The leadership styles during this period and which spilled into the 1960s were “people-focused” or “result-focused”. The whole idea was that leaders were judged based on what they were able to achieve and what they did while in office. It did not really matter whether or not they were “born leaders”. A leader could become effective through training and development. 96 Challenging the Rulers: A Leadership Model for Good Governance The 1960s and the early 1970s saw the emergence of a new type of leader whose leadership could not effectively be explained by the earlier theories. Thus, new studies began to view leadership through the lense of situational or contingency theories. The premise of these theories is that unique factors or particular situations determined whether a specific leader was effective or not. In this respect, situational factors interacted with the leader’s traits and behaviour to influence leadership effectiveness, generally producing what is widely known as charismatic leaders. These are leaders who are usually admired by their followers because of the energies and enthusiasm they bring into the scene. Their followers show near total dedication and unquestioning loyalty. More studies later revealed that there are leaders whose leadership practices transcend the theories above. Some scholars in the 1980s and 1990s saw leadership as skills-based. Here the emphasis is on what effective leaders do, based on the skills acquired. This kind of leadership was highlighted by the transformative theories which tend to investigate what transactions of traits, behaviours and situations allow certain people to transform for excellence. In the 21st century, the emphasis shifted to visionary leadership. The idea of visionary leadership is synonymous with marshalling people behind a compelling vision of a better future. In this situation, the interest is in what is required to inspire, unite and mobilise the masses. Finally, there are alternative leadership theories which examine other types of leadership which do not quite fit into the categories above. These include servant leadership, authentic leadership and collective leadership. For this chapter, we shall examine servant leadership. Servant leadership reflects a philosophy that leaders should be servants first. It suggests that leaders must place the needs of their followers ahead of their own interests in order to be effective. Servant leadership begins from the natural feeling that one really wants to serve. That one naturally wants to help others is then followed by a conscious choice to aspire to lead. Servant leadership is characterised by the following attributes: empathy, stewardship, listening, awareness, persuasion and foresight, commitment to the personal, professional and spiritual growth of the followers. Servant leadership is about moving individuals and communities at large to a higher level of progress.