by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 31 August 2007)
Gather round boys and listen to Aunty Stella as she schools you on some good leadership traits. Heavens know there could be some decent lessons on leadership lately. Whoa, not that close Smart and Sharp Robert – but I admire your eagerness to learn because education is the foundation upon which humans will continue to flourish, Mr. MBA.
All right boys (I say boys because most of those who like to take up so much space in the news lately are the guys. Surprise, surprise), its like this, of late there has been quite a bit of confusion from all directions when it comes to defining a leadership style that both puts the people of Guyana first and effectively runs the nation.
Don’t you worry your little heads though, I completely understand how difficult it must be to lead a nation since it is no easy job to pretend to care about the people and jerk them around at the same time. Never fear little ones, Aunty Stella has done her homework and will help you to define a cohesive leadership style that I promise will work brilliantly.
I have quite a few books on leadership, but my smallish library does not come close to exhausting the references on this topic. I have Plato (of course) and Machiavelli (to study how not to lead). I have books by old philosophers as well as new authors with contemporary thoughts on leadership.
However, I was stumped when I read a letter in the Chronicle yesterday where someone compared President Jagdeo’s leadership style with an ancient Swedish king named Aun. I had never heard of this Aun character so – being the student of leadership styles that I am - I did a little studying on the life and leadership of Aun.
It seems Aun did not like to wage war. That much is good. However, it seems when he was 60 years old he decided to sacrifice one of his sons to Odin (the chief Norse god) so that he might live to lead for another 60 years. These sacrifices continued through another eight sons (Poor guy got gypped. He only received an extra ten years for each additional son sacrificed to Odin) until the people stopped him from killing his last son.
Of course, without any further sacrifices, King Aun finally died. It is said that he was so old when he died that he could only eat by sucking mush from a horn like a baby. Personally, this association of Aun to President Jagdeo in the PPP propaganda newspaper is a bit perplexing for me.
Is this the PPP’s way of letting the country know that Jagdeo will be around for quite a bit longer than any of us anticipate? I suppose if Jagdeo plans for these sacrifices, he might have to offer some of your sitting at my feet to Odin since metaphorically speaking you are his political sons.
Hmmm, it seems the President’s new leadership path may not bode well for some of you, but never you mind that, it is all for the good of Guyana. And that is all that is truly important to every single one of you anyhow – the good of Guyana – right? (Wink, wink)
Before you boys start visiting Norse temples with the President, please give Aunty Stella a chance to tell you how I would define a good leader. Or rather, allow me explain how I quickly pinpoint poor leadership from just few telltale signs. Sometimes it is easier to weed out the bad rather than digging around frantically to find the good.
Now boys, here is how Aunty Stella weeds out the power hungry gluttons from the real leaders. If you treat the people who work in your office like the only reason they are on earth is just to serve you – Bam! You are a power hungry glutton.
If you think more about yourself on a daily basis than you think about the people to whom you are obligated by your office to serve – yep, you are a narcissistic stooge. Oh, and by the way, in case there was any doubt, a narcissistic stooge does not a good leader make.
If you begin each day knowing you will make more money than what your paycheck and lawfully gained investments allow – you are not a good leader. Instead you are a criminal that could end up being be some toothless fiend’s very good friend behind the privacy of jail bars.
If you are obsessed with power and money and if you are completely consumed with making it to the next rung on the political ladder – well, I have some very bad news for you. Not only are you not a good leader, you are the worst leader society could ever produce.
To be honest, boys, if you want to know if you are a good leader, just ask those who work with you (yes, boys, I said with you – not for you. A true leader understands the tremendous value of the input and contributions of others). If those who work with you are not afraid to tell you the truth, their honest feedback will help you grow as a leader and make them feel appreciated.
If you cannot “lower” yourself to the level of asking someone who works “for” you to assess your leadership capabilities – once again, you are not a good leader. If you intimidate your co-workers into giving you a dishonest answer just to build your ego – oh brother are you a sick person who needs a lot of psychological counselling.
Listen boys, Aunty Stella is just tired of the ego clashes. It is just pathetic to watch you boys try to outdo each other in personality brawls. The question at hand is not who has the biggest personality – the question is about who has the biggest personality disorder.
Why do boys always have to have the biggest toys? Guyana does not need big personalities from egotistical leaders; it needs some down-to-earth leadership from guys who know how to be humble and can work well with others for the good of the people of the country.
That is all for today’s lesson. You were all such good boys. Tomorrow’s lesson will be on leaders who have to manipulate or scare people into supporting them so they can stay in power.
School is out for the day, boys. You are dismissed.