|Much has been written about leadership, so much so that writing about the subject looks mundane. Yet this is an issue that small and big businesses, industry and nations must continuously deal with.
Just have a quick glance at the top companies that make it to the annual list of Ghana’s elite Club 100. They include some companies which have been around for years with their origins in Western countries.
But what should please all of us is that every year indigenous companies who made their appearance not too long ago have made it to the club through hard work, vision and planning.
Undoubtedly the founders of these successful companies when questioned can best outline the factors for their achievements but what I know for sure will be a constant in all such success stories is the leadership factor.
As a student of history and a keen reader of biographies and autobiographies what has intrigued and fascinated me most as I read the epic stories of leaders in politics, media, business and industry is the single factor of the leadership equation. That determines ultimately whether any business, be it political, economic or what have you succeeds or fails.
There are always the objective factors or realities on the ground which can with successful engineering either spell doom or success. It took the extraordinary leadership skills of Lee Iacocca to change the declining fortunes of the famous Chrysler Corporation of the U.S.A.
The great depression of the 1930s that shook and destroyed the economic foundation of the United States challenged in no small measure the leadership capacity of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With his New Deal policy he managed to turn the tide around and set the American economy back on track.
It may be too early to pass full judgment on the stimulus plan of President Barack Obama and the initiatives of other European leaders, notably Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy but what can be said for sure even at this stage is that but for the leadership they individually and collectively offered to the financial world as it stood on the brink of collapse the global economic crunch would have bitten more than it did.
The kind of leadership and vision leaders in Africa have offered their countries over the years are so manifest as one moves from one country to another. Where the leadership has been visionary and selfless one sees indices of progress. The reverse is sadly the case where leadership has been poor in vision.
Let us focus for a moment on Guinea, one of the most endowed countries in West Africa. It is blessed with natural resources which have sadly not impacted positively on the lives of the people. Political leadership from Sékou Touré, through Lansana Conté to the current leader Moussa Dadis Camara has evidently failed the people miserably.
Paradoxically one finds in the same sub-region countries with fewer resources but visionary and committed leadership which have put these poorer countries on an economic march forward.
At the micro level, when it comes to transforming small enterprises to mega companies like the many success stories we find in the Ghana Club 100 or with some of the expanding Pentecostal churches in Ghana the bottom line and the key determinant of success or failure still remains the leadership factor.
It is good and effective leadership that sets the vision, direction and destination of any enterprise. For lack of good leadership nations have failed and the fortunes of companies have bottomed out. The impact of Bill Gates and other leaders in the ICT sector can be traced to the visionary leadership of the founders.
There are plenty of books and literature on leadership but what I recommend is not the theories found in those books but real life biographies: true stories of struggles for success which offer worthy examples and lessons.