These days, there are many manuals about leadership and many inspirational speakers pointing the way to successful and effective leadership.
Leadership is a taught course in many schools of learning as the debate rages on as to whether leaders are born or made.
I have not read that many books on leadership but the subject and practice of leadership has always fascinated me.
Roughly 30 years ago, when I was fairly younger and had not had the benefit of first-hand experience of leadership in strategic positions, I wrote several articles on leadership in the Weekly Spectator.
One particular article that addressed the issue critically was titled “LIMANN – A LEADER OR A PRESIDENT?” Harsh as the critique was, it essentially questioned whether the then President of Ghana, Dr. Hilla Limann was just a President elected by the people of Ghana, with his job description cut out for him by the nation’s Constitution or beyond that, a real leader taking Ghana from one situation to another.
My sad conclusion was that, “A President he was, a leader not”. I did not feel and see President Limann offering the change that the nation yearned for; I thought then that he was just maintaining the status quo and worse still leading us nowhere.
I did not see Dr. Limann fulfilling the litmus test of leadership prescribed by Dr. Munroe, which is “the capacity to influence others through motivation by passion generated by vision produced by conviction”.
What true leadership does for any business is to inspire people to give their utmost best by convincing employees that something good awaits all who participate in the enterprise.
As Ghana and other countries in the sub-region gear themselves up for presidential elections, the question of choosing leaders and not merely seat-warmers will emerge and critical voters will look for candidates who display vision, strength and courage to bring meaningful changes in the lives of people.
Throughout our political history this country has seen many office holders, Ministers of State, Managing Directors of state organisations, regional and district political heads, headmasters and headmistresses of secondary schools, Vice-Chancellors of Universities etc.
There is the ritual of annual elections when many offer themselves to lead associations and organisations and after their election do nothing or little to improve their association.
Title or position holders many have been, but true leaders few have been. The real issue is whether the institutions such office holders head, ever witness any fundamental growth and progress under their stewardship.
But whilst the leadership bell tolls louder with politics, nations grow when they have leaders in every field of human endeavour.
Let the politicians do their thing, but we need leaders in industry, in science and technology, banking and finance, commerce and agriculture, in sports, in education, in every field that human beings gather to make society grow in the right direction.
Those secondary schools in Ghana which have excelled at various stages of their history, making high waves in academic work and sports, have done so when they have been blessed with outstanding headmasters and headmistresses who were more leaders in education rather than mere office holders.
Take the popular game of soccer, where the difference between defeat and victory must be largely determined by teamwork and the rare display of leadership by exemplary players like Maradona or Messi.
Americans, in this regard, have many icons in leadership whose pioneering feats and leadership skills have determined the rise of the United States in many fields.
In men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, the US has leaders in the information and technology sector whose discoveries and leadership have created business models and revolutionized the way we communicate.
But long before them, there was Henry Ford, the pioneer of the motor industry who is described as “the creative force behind an industry of unprecedented size and wealth that in only a few decades permanently changed the economic and social character of the United States”.
There is every reason to celebrate Ghanaian leadership in the field of industry and business, with some indigenous entrepreneurs proving every day that the Ghanaian has it in his chest to do great things.
We have examples from the world of chieftaincy to show what leadership can achieve for a people.
What has not been worthy of celebration in leadership may be in the field of politics, where the nature of the game as played in Ghana fuelled by many primordial factors such as ethnicity does not bring out the best in leadership.
But just as leadership is what is making the difference between growth and stagnation in every field of human activity, it is time that we see this concept influencing national politics from the district level to the top.
Our beloved Ghana, from the world of science to agriculture is very fertile for true leadership. Who cometh then?