OPEN FORUM: Leadership: Gateway to economic recovery 

OPEN FORUM: Leadership: Gateway to economic recovery 

Source: OPEN FORUM: Leadership: Gateway to economic recovery | The Financial Gazette May 3, 2018

Everything rises and falls not on the leaders, but on the leadership.

Everything rises and falls not on the leaders, but on the leadership.

By Simon Bere

I HAVE no doubt that Zimbabwe’s economic challenges are predominantly to do with leadership and that the economy can never transition from disaster and destruction to prosperity and growth without major and pervasive changes at the top.

That businesses, institutions, organisations, societies and all economies rise and fall on this one thing called leadership is not just a vain, motivational statement, but a hard and stubborn fact of life. I believe that the actual leadership is not people, but an invisible driving force that determines the velocity and destiny of a team, society, business, organisation or economy.

The first important thing to point out is that the majority of people are so obsessed with people who occupy leadership positions that they forget to pay enough attention to the leadership itself. For one thing, Zimbabweans are more interested in people who occupy positions of leadership than on the kind of leadership they want and more importantly, what kind of leadership will deliver the results that they aspire and hope for.

There is also a strong belief, almost a conviction, that the fate of Zimbabwe’s economy is in the hands of some individual political leader, so when people talk about “leadership” in relation to the economy, the debate swings to political leaders and not to real leaders. People, there is a difference between leaders and leadership. Here is the difference.

A leader is a person who assumes a position of leadership. Assuming a position of leadership does not imply that the person knows and understands leadership and can lead effectively to achieve the desirable or desired objectives.

At an elemental level, leadership is the act of leading. In this sense, leadership refers to what a leader does in the process of pursuing the responsibilities in line with the position. This definition assumes a one-leader-many-followers situation, in which the followers look up to the leader for direction, input and decisions. This is the leadership model that most people have.

However, leadership at a deeper level, is more than what the leader does and how one does it. Leadership is a force that permeates throughout society. This force is generated within the whole society and it is this force that determines what the whole society can do, can achieve and the direction the whole society takes. In this sense, this leadership force is generated and propagated not by one single person but by many leaders, formal and informal, within that society and entity.

In Zimbabwe’s case, it is important to ask about the state of leadership and explore whether or not the existing leadership is adequate to pull, catapult and even violently eject the economy out of its current quagmire. This question must be addressed without resorting to linking leadership to any person, but on account of the model that leadership is a force built from sum total of leadership instances and activities within the whole economy.

Because for some time, political leadership has been the major failure point in the economic prosperity of Zimbabwe, and now that there are very visibly different political leaders, it is important to also address all the other dimensions of leadership.

Everything rises and falls not on the leaders, but on the leadership. It is possible to have people in positions of leadership and yet have no leadership at all.  It is the role of those who assume leadership positions, especially those at the top in each leadership dimension, to ensure that there is live and active leadership.

Simon Bere is contactable on email