Kenya needs leadership, now.

December 1, 2008 12:00 am

NAIROBI, December 1 – Kenya has consistently been in want of real leadership that speaks the language of the people and that carries the spirit of the people of this country. For four and a half decades, we have experienced leadership that has fallen short of the nation’s expectations in one area or another.

But more than ever before; subsequent to the post-election crisis and the various commissions that were put together as part of the negotiated peace deal and that have since given their verdict and recommendations, this country requires gallant leadership that is going to sail us through a more difficult patch than that of January-February 2008.

How we handle the recommendations of especially the two commissions created after the post-election violence, Kriegler Commission – which was to look into the conduct of the 2007, December general elections in and Waki Commission – which was to inquire into the post-election violence, will determine how this country develops henceforth.

currently does not need a Laissez-faire (let do) leader; this is only useful when one fully trusts and has confidence in all the people below him or her. This style of leadership can be useful under different circumstances where and when it is relevant if effected wisely, but for sure, this is not the time to go that route.

There is a huge task to be done, a task that has to pay attention to the needs of the people and be able to transact what is required without fear or favour and equally have the big picture in mind of where the country needs to be in the future.

I wish to argue here that the country at this juncture requires a combination of leadership skills; requires the task-oriented leader because there are major tasks to be performed. This country not only requires reforms but also major reconstruction towards reconciliation. The task-oriented leader is normally linked to a first phase in managing change and organizing towards enhancing performance, especially after a country has undergone a crisis. Very clear attention is required to be able to deliver on the three Rs of Reforms, Reconstruction and Reconciliation.

further requires a transaction leader, a leader who not only acknowledges that there are major tasks to be performed but knows when to reward and punish for the survival of the nation. The leader with this style knows to give opportunity to those they lead to accomplish the pre-determined goals jointly and will put in place all that is required to reach the predetermined desired levels. This leader will pay more attention to detail and will be interested in evaluating performance as well as correct and put in place all necessary resources for effectiveness.

Finally, badly needs the transformation leader who motivates the team and the nation towards effectiveness and efficiency. This leader will be highly visible and will use the necessary chain of command to get the job done. Communication is the key tool that this leader uses to inspire the correct spirit towards change and achievement of tasks ahead. The Transformation Leader shall focus on the big picture and will therefore need to be surrounded by people who take care of the details. This leader will be looking for ideas that will move the nation to the highest level of change and ascertain that the nation’s vision is reached.

Good leaders however must carry the people with them. To be in touch with the people, you also require a people-oriented leader, the one who realizes that to comply with the required effectiveness and efficiency, the people need to be supported at crucial stages so that the whole nation moves together towards the new dawn.

The challenge we have to deal with in is to see if indeed our current leadership has the capacity and the desired styles of leadership to bring it all together for the nation. This is one of those crucial moments in history when we cannot afford to go wrong; we have seen what the consequences of taking things for granted can take a nation, no Kenyan wants to ever go back to the nightmare of January-February 2008. This is not the time for the Laissez-faire style of leadership.

However I take comfort in knowing that within the Grand Coalition, we have the ‘best of the best’ in leadership as all opposing presidential candidates have formed one grand government. If they can only believe in each other’s strengths, they can pull this nation out of the woods. The time for grandstanding and blame is gone, now is the time to re-create and rebuild a nation.

The two commission reports referred to above (Kriegler and Waki) should form the basis of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation process. This is the only way we can talk of having put in place a homegrown process that will move this nation forward. If we work successfully at our local process, the international community will respect us and that process and allow it to reach its desired end. Resistance can only hurt both individuals and the nation at large.

Never before have all Kenyans been required to stand together for not just truth and justice, but in support of a leadership that will have to work towards holding this nation together. That leadership exists in the different figures we have in the President of this country, Mwai Kibaki, the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and the Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka. You cannot afford to fail the citizens of this country; all the leadership qualities, styles and resources currently needed to bring it all together exist among yourselves, do this country a favour and respect each other’s leadership capacity to be able to move us forward.

None of you alone can move the mountain – But together, can once more become the pride and envy of the continent. A country with hard working citizens, a country that respects human rights and equality for all, a country that respects everyone’s democratic right to participate equally in governance structures of this great nation.

The author is the Executive Director, CMD-Kenya.


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