A good leader

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With Aisha Jallow

We meet leaders everywhere, from the day we are born and until we take our last breath. Perhaps you haven’t considered what a leader is, but you are one yourself even if you haven’t consciously chosen to be one. So what is a leader? If we look at what a dictionary is telling us, we will read the following:

1.         A leader is someone who inspires passion and motivation in followers.

2.         A leader is someone with a vision and the path to realizing it.

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3.         A leader is someone who ensures their team has support and tools to achieve their goals.

A leader may be any of those things, but a good leader is all three.

As I wrote above; you might be a leader yourself, without consciously having chosen it. When I say that, I mean that you haven’t chosen the role as a leader, you simply became one and had to deal with that.

I also wrote that we meet leaders everywhere, from the day we are born, so who is the first leader in our life? That is our mother, of course, and hopefully she was prepared for her role before you turned up and changed her world. Becoming a mother very early in life is the norm in many societies. A girl is supposed to get married before she is 20 or people will look at her and wonder why no one wants her. Imagine the pressure the society is putting on a young girl, that she has to get married even if she doesn’t feel ready for this life-time committment.

A marriage is not a blessing, it is a bonus, or can be a bonus but it doesn’t come with a warranty. In the modern day society, a young woman can support herself. She is educated, has a job, a home and is independent. She earns her own money and doesn’t have to ask her husband for fish-money and explain every expense for him. This freedom is not promised to all the young women in The Gambia, as a matter of fact, this freedom doesn’t seem to be promised to any woman in The Gambia. The level of literacy is still around 50% and that is a frightening number. Imagine that we haven’t come further still, the world is moving forward but The Gambia is standing still.

As long as our leaders lack the awareness of the importance of an equal education for all men and women in The Gambia, there will be no development. I have mentioned this before, and as long as there is no change, I will keep on speaking about this subject. Our leaders have been studying abroad, so they should have an open mind to education and be able to see the benefits thereof. How come that they learn one thing while they study abroad, and then they transform back to the old and backward way when they return? I have so many times been asking myself how come there is a lack of development on all stages in the society. It seems like the leaders prefer the status quo, that things remain as they always have been, because that is convenient and requires less work.

The lazy minds of our leaders slow down the pace of development in the country, and that is harmfull for future generations.

A leader should be a rolemodel, so what kind of rolemodels do we accept? There seems to be no time for reflection, because most people are busy with their survival. This is what we need from our leaders, this is what we have the right to demand from our leaders; that they are reflecting over the current situation and have a vision of how to improve it. The vision must also include the future, and these visions must be based on the knowledge we got from the past. Everything is connected and nothing goes on in life that doesn’t touch some other area.

The first point of what the dictionary says about what a leader is, is that a leader is someone who inspires passion and motivation in followers. Do you know any leader of this kind? Well, I know some, but not many. Those I know are genuine leaders, who are passionate about their role and take it seriously. This is what I expect from a leader and what I respect. For me, respect is earned and not granted. Someone who is boasting about his or her importance, is not worthy of my respect. Actions speak louder than words, and that is certainly true when it comes to a leader. Another proverb is: Empty barrels make most noise. The presidential election was not long ago, and there was a lot of noise from some of those who either wanted to be leaders or wanted to remain that.

A leader should spread motivation among the followers. Ok, that can be interpreted differently depending on the kind of leader. It depends on if we think of a positive message or a negative, and the problem is that a passionate leader can also be manipulative. He can put his words in a way that everything he says sound right and logical, but when you take time to consider what he said, you will begin to question the message. Being a leader is a huge responsibility, but how many of our current leaders consider their role in these terms? Being passionate can be a good thing, but when it is not paired with a logical and sensible mind, this can turn to greed.

Just look at what the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin is doing. He has invaded Ukraine, fooled his young soldiers that they were going there for a military training. The Russian people are brain-washed, because the media is not allowed to report the true stories about what caused the war and the consequences thereof.

Russian media is telling that the Ukrainian people are fascists, Nazis and drug addicts. Not a word about how developed the country was, before it was invaded. Now it is beginning to look like Syria and over 1 million people have already fled the country.