I find this is a timely moment to address such an important topic, with the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic it’s quite evident that leadership measures adopted to address issues arising during this crisis will define the new normal from a leadership perspective for both public and private sectors.
For the past few years there has been a global a remarkable growing trend of protectionism and populism mostly in western countries, the rise of racism especially in USA and the recent chaos it created there as well as the awakening movements around the world who stood up for #BlackLivesMatters.
Cleary voiced out that the global population is craving for true and authentic leaders who take actions, practice empathy, lead by example, and walk the talk when it comes to responding to population’s demands.
There is a need for responsible and responsive leaders more than ever and these two have one word in common: “Response”.
In the African context, the world bank has recently presented an economic decline as low as -5.1 in 2020 however over the past decade and just before Corona virus outbreak the continent has been one of the fastest-growing regions in the world many countries have elaborated great economic and social policies but there is still a great need in integrating a more deep policy analysis related to selected thematic areas including investigating root causes constraining an inclusive growth within the continent, all in line with helping countries translating the great paper policies into actions to improve the livelihood of the population for a smooth implementation of Sustainable Development Goals .
What responsible and responsive leader mean to me.
The type of leadership one exercises mostly depends on who that person is. (Character, Ability, Attitude, Belief/Values) in my view those 4 words deeply elaborated here below in four pillars, best define a responsible and responsive leader.
- Learn: Leadership is the ability to lead others to places they could not have gone without you. This requires that a leader is continuously eager to learn, to grow into a better person and to develop personal skills and knowledge. John F. Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
- Empower: Empowerment increases the degree of autonomy and self-determination. It becomes even more important to women and youth for many reasons. It enables them to represent their interests and fight for their rights which help them overcome a sense of powerlessness and lack of influence.
- Accountability: Leadership is not just a position. Leaders need step into the leadership role with a sense of privilege and honor towards those whom they are leading. Most people enjoy and aspire to be leaders but very few are prepared to be answerable leaders.
- Decide: When one think of great leaders, decisiveness is cited among the most important traits. Leaders of countries or communities face great challenges that require the ability to make quick and good decisions for everyone this precisely showed up during this time of Corona Virus outbreak.
- Enable: Being an enabling leader means being actively involved, to walk the talk, to allow things get done, to find and implement solutions. It is different from being a boss leader who dictates everything without any concept of concrete roll out plan of implementation.
- Responsible: A good leader understands that leadership is responsibility not power. Being a responsible leader requires accountability and adaptability. A responsible leader is reliable; has a problem solving mindset, and cares and listens to the needs of the citizens.
- Sacrifice: Capitalism is producing more leaders that have self motives and forget about the collective needs of their citizens. A responsible and responsive leader must sacrifice his ego and learn to put others first.
- Human: A good leader must first be human and understand issues people face. A heart-centered leader must serve the people, not the other way around.
- Influence: A leader can either manipulate or motivate people. Manipulation uses influence to achieve selfish means. Motivators use influence in a positive and productive way; they are aware that they have power to influence change.
- Pave the way: A responsible and responsive leader must pave the way for the next generation of leaders; a true motive behind being a great leader lies in striving to make who you lead better even when you are no longer there.
The meaning of creating and leading inclusive societies in this time of crisis
The Covid 19 has uncovered massive inequalities in the African society. Creating and leading inclusive society means addressing issues of the population with equity and equality by listening and finding particular solutions to the less privileged who heavily rely on informal markets. when problems are not adequately addressed communities tend to lose trust. Through participatory community engagement, monitoring public and private service delivery, accountability and good governance the responsible and responsive leadership in Rwanda proved to the population that whatever problem faced could be solved turning challenges into opportunities.
The Leaders practiced empathy as well as enforced necessary measures against contamination coupled with a high standard of accountability no doubt that a combination of the 4 pillars mentioned above was a critical element of the leadership the responsiveness to issues arising and the systematic measures to manage the pandemic outbreak has made Rwanda outstanding in the sub Saharan Africa.
Shaping a better future for the next generation of African leaders
It is imperative for the African leaders to pave the way, mentor and instill in the next generation a sense of ownership and leadership to Shape a better future that puts Responsible and Responsive Leadership at the forefront. Women and youth must be engaged in finding solutions so that they feel concerned and needed to take action to solve their own communities’ issues.
My dream is to see a better Africa with an inclusive economic transformation as more responsive and responsible leaders on the continent arise.
About the writer: Jeanne d’Arc Umulisa is a Social Economist Consultant, the founder of Noble women a social business which empowers and equips women Entrepreneurs she is also an Aspiring Leadership & Executive Coach.