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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

I never thought I was in bondage; are you?

I have just taken some time to reflect on “bondage” and the kind of baggage we carry around that can weight you down for many years. The baggage may not be a bad thing it could be it may be just weighing you down. There are some things you wish you could do and have never done. And you never seem to find the time to do them. You want to build a house, teach your children to swim or visit someone you love, but just don’t seem to make the time. These things weigh you down. There are hurts you carry for many years and the person that hurt you is not even aware. They become your personal assets you carry around while the person who grieved you walks free oblivious that you are carrying a load of them in your life. This is not life!

Some time ago I came to realize that I too am carrying burdens just to look good in the sight of others or just because I think it is the right thing to do. No doubt there is the right thing to do, but there are also the wrong things to do to make things look right. We need wisdom to work things out and know when to let things go. What are the indications that you are carrying burdens you need to examine? Do you harbor fear, grief, un-forgiveness, hurt, regret, bitterness, unending wish-lists, self righteousness, hate, anger, immorality, good or bad success, secret cravings, promises...  does your conscious continuously prod you in a given direction or need to attend to something. Perhaps it is time you started listening. Not all these things are bad, but the fact that they are never satisfied to my mind turns them into burdens, bondage and weights that you must carry with you and stop you enjoying all the blessing you have today.

Notice it is not other people I am talking about. So do yourself a favor every few months and do an offloading of those painful/ dead weights you can do nothing or won’t do anything about and release yourself to once again to live free. The procedure it up to you. You may have to contact some old friends or you may just have to deal with you. Sometimes you may just have to do what you need to do and get it out of the way. In all cases you will need to pray for Gods wisdom to be free indeed!

Allan Bukusi

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Is this Servant Leadership or just Slavery?

While the need and the demand for servant leaders seems to be on the rise, there is a disturbing trend in which servant leaders are treated as little more than bond slaves of the people they lead. In these instances followers subject their leaders to humiliating demands and then withdraw all support for the leader, but still expect the servant leader to go out of their way to accomplish the followers’ wishes at their own cost. Leaders who do not meet the mark of servant delivery, as judged by the followers, are deemed to be failures and are subject to unqualified disdain from those who have a skewed understanding of the leadership function.

The call for servant leaders is couched with innocent phrases like “we need someone who will work for us” or “save us from this aggression” or “we need someone who can help us meet our goals”. Reading these sentiments carefully will reveal a very self driven motive devoid of any collaborative agenda. In reality these followers are looking for a way to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their own success. Woe to the leader who takes up leadership to serve the peoples interests in these circumstances. Upon entering office the gentle wishes of the people suddenly turn into demands, expectations and morph into non-negotiable performance indicators. If the leader fails to secure the success of the population he or she is disqualified as a servant leader.

A careful reading of Greenleaf would characterize a servant leaders as; Listening.  Empathy.  Healing, Awareness., Persuasion, Conceptualization,  Foresight,  Stewardship,  Commitment to the growth of people and  Building community. These characteristics no doubt demand and draw on the submissive qualities and the other-centered traits in a leader. However these characteristics neglect to define the role of followers in achieving social and corporate goals. This model and attributes the accomplishment of corporate goals solely to the person of the servant leader and release the followers of any wrong or culpability of failure to achieve corporate objectives. This definition of a leader fails to acknowledge that leadership is in fact a social construct and a corporate social responsibility where followers proactively participate in the leadership process and commit resources to achieve a common goal.

The more mischievous and less knowledgeable followers are inclined to believe they have no responsibility for their own success and easily abandon their leaders to pursue noble corporate goals without lifting a finger, paying their dues or pulling their weight to achieve the desired results. It is the disloyal and unfaithful following that withholds their vote and turns their leaders into personal slaves. They blame the leader passionately for failing to succeed on their behalf and denounce the leaders’ efforts to facilitate the common good. The principles of Servant leadership are inspiring, but there is a defining line between service and slavery.

Allan Bukusi

Monday, September 5, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Foundations of Leadership in Africa

This article traces the triumphant, treacherous and turbulent tale of leadership in Africa through centuries past to the present day and creates a foundation for the development of leaders and the practice of leadership into the 21st Century.

For a thousand years Africa existed in harmony with the rest of the Earth. Each continent content in relative isolation managed its own affairs as best as each knew how. Africa was a kingdom of communities where culture was the instrument of government and goevrnance. Village setups provided essential infrastructure for social organization. Communities were bound and bonded by common heritage, history and homage. In these circumstances leadership facilitated the common good and regulated social interaction, justice and peace managed through communal objectives, events and activities. Though survival may have been an occupying engagement there is plenty of evidence to show that industry, mathematics, architecture, enterprise, education and innovation were not neglected.

Africa was first a nation of communities and it would take another thousand years to make the transition to a community of nations. In the beginning the intricate web of race, relatives & respect made up the core of social order and organization. Strong community bonds ensured that interaction between communities was minimal, as kingdoms remained essentially ethnic. Though leaders in each community were chosen by different systems, leadership remained a social function. In a closed cultural system there is a practical and direct relationship between age, experience and therefore wisdom. Leadership was a developmental function often marked by initiation or certification rites and graduation through social ranks. However, while culture thrives in isolation it becomes open to question when compared to other cultures or is removed from its “home” context.

What is not commonly appreciated is that culture is a creation and tool of leadership. It is a condition of organization that can be addressed. It can be both learned and communicated. It is not a permanent feature of people and organization it is a created or formed element of organization. It can therefore be influenced and directed by leadership.

All this was to change forever at the turn of the first millennium. Three intrusions would distort the face of Africa and disperse the kingdoms therein: Slave Trade, Global religions and Colonialism. In between would flow the exploitative trader. Africa was dragged into the global arena through the humiliating door of slavery. This trade de-capacitated leadership development across the continent and exported its leadership potential. The capacity to organize the kind of resistance necessary to put an end to this evil was disjointed. As slave trade in earnest was winding up leadership in Africa was sent reeling from the effects of global religious campaigns that swept and crept across the North, East and Southern mainland. Before leadership in Africa could prepare a frame of reference to address this new incursion in came the colonialists who formalized their stay by carving out geographical boundaries to bring multiple indigenous communities under one government for the first time in history.

1900…the turning point
The turn of the 19th century marked an intensification of leadership activity in Africa. Leadership in Africa had now come into contact with the wider world and was now facing a dilemma as to how to associate with it. The fact that Africa suffered perhaps irreparably from its misadventure on the world stage up until 1900 is recorded history. The leadership loss incurred through the slave trade may never be quantified; neither will the cost of setbacks to the preparation of Africa to participate effectively in world affairs ever be determined. One could say that this misadventure continued well into the 20th century. However, this was to be so with some major differences.

Much as the slave trade threw leadership out of its cultural cocoons, it also opened leadership’s eyes to its neighbors and friends. The carving up of Africa introduced the continent to matters of globalization, governance, administration corporate institutions and bureaucracy. Kingdoms began to establish networks, communication structures and cooperation strategies. Leadership in Africa moved from isolation to consolidation of its capacity. The seeds of national leadership were planted in association, cooperation, education and organization. Leadership in Africa began to use informal order to organize resistance and outright rebellion with rising success. During this time leadership in Africa entered a period of intense development on a scale not witnessed before outside the cultural context. Politics presented the platform for new leadership in Africa.

Many of these movements were led by the formally educated in society at the time. This is probably why later leadership in Africa was strongly associated with formal education. It was believed that education would empower one to understand the colonial structures and systems and return power to the people. The goal was therefore to take over the existing administration. This could be achieved through a popular informal movement disrupting colonial governance. And so Africa launched its first corporate effort to self-determination under the banner of political leadership. Political leaders harnessed the support of people power, available in ethnic blocks, into the freedom struggle. They took power from the colonialist who had so far succeeded in keeping them divided. This strategy much as it was successful in deposing the colonialist has cost Africa dearly in nationhood - the ghost of ethnicity refused to go away.

Political leadership is still considered as leadership in many different spheres of Africa’s existence today. Politics pervades leadership in business, social life, science, education almost everything is politicized where leadership is required. But leadership is not politics and politics is not leadership. Leadership influences the quality of politics. In fact leadership influences the quality of any endeavor. Events of the last 50 years have shown that though politics is a powerful force in informal organization, it is often inadequate to drive development in formal environments. Africa needs to develop other forms of leadership to drive its development agenda in the 21st century. Institutional leaders need to be visionary and transformational change agents who give balance, support and substructure to development and growth initiatives across the continent. Nonetheless leaders also need to learn how to manage the new forms of institutions that regulate social interaction outside cultural frames such as schools, banks and business institutions that provide social services at a fee.   The social template of mass education (schools, universities); mass healing (hospitals); mass money lenders (banks) … are all foreign. Thus leadership in Africa did not go through a ‘natural’ transformation process to prepare them to handle leadership of modern social institutions.

Leadership development in Africa was a corporate social responsibility. While social leadership positions existed leadership was a social duty. In other words Leadership is the sum total shared responsibility of all those in authority and control of institutional resources or charged with organizational responsibility to achieve corporate goals. A group of people beyond an individual leader was charged with leadership responsibility. This approach to leadership extends the responsibility of achievement beyond the leader to the team. Alongside the modern requirements of vision, teamwork and technical competencies this approach needs two important ingredients to success; EXPRESSION and PARTICIPATION. These two ingredients draw on the strength of engagement and irrepressible spirit of the people to participate in social and economic affairs. Leaders in the 21st century will need to use more inclusive strategies to harness this vibrant social energy.

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