By Ensa Ceesay
As the 4th December 2021 presidential election looms, there will be plenty of pundits, analysts and writers commentating about the candidates and debating who among the lot will make the best president for The Gambia.
According to a well-known study of presidential characters, some common leadership qualities that a successful president should have are the following:
o A strong vision for the country’s future;
o An ability to put their own times in the perspective of history;
o Effective communication skills;
o The courage to make unpopular decisions;
o Crisis management skills;
o Character and integrity;
o Wise appointments;
o The ability to work with the parliament of the country.
Gambians are their own judges in determining whether President Adama Barrow has or exhibits all of these qualities.
Adama Barrow came from zero to become the head of state through the sweat and blood of many. Dignity, conscience and character should all be sterling qualities which a president should possess but which are lacking in President Barrow. He has failed about every promise he’s made to Gambians and now expects us to believe in him by renewing his mandate in December.
In my estimation, there are certain qualities which great presidents and leaders should possess. These include:
Being clear about what needs to be done – and concisely expressing visions and goals – is vital for effective leadership. Citizens need to know where the country is headed and what the expectations are for getting there, both from an individual and collective perspective.
Listen and allow others to be heard
Good leaders listen closely with the goals of understanding others and being understood. Effective listeners gain access to a diversity of ideas and potential solutions that otherwise would not have been generated. He also strengthens relationships, build trust, improve teamwork and show his people that He cares.
Effective communication is important, but it requires more than just a basic oral or written transaction between people. Good leaders facilitate genuine conversations – meaningful human-to-human connections – and bring people together to work and gain agreement in order to achieve goals.
Should model desired behaviour
Quite simply, strong leaders walk the walk and talk the talk. In other words, they model the same behaviour they expect from their teams. You can have inspirational quotes and company values framed on the wall all you want, but modeled behaviour will always be more effective.
Encourage healthy conflict
Healthy conflict is good for relationships and parties because it challenges assumptions and creates great results. Powerful leaders allow different views to be presented and shared, and know that disagreements can open pathways to innovation and higher-performing teams.
Create an environment of emotional safety
Successful governments consist of employees who are invested in their work, which means there will be moments of joy, frustration, confusion, exhaustion, and a host of other feelings. Emotions, both positive and negative, are a fundamental part of who we are, and ignoring or suppressing them is harmful.
Good leaders know the importance of fostering a healthy cognitive and emotional culture, in which individuals feel safe in saying how they feel and expressing their views, without stigma or shame.
Have high levels of self-awareness.
It’s important for leaders to be aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, preferences and other personality traits, because these characteristics have a significant impact on how they behave and interact with others. Leaders with high levels of self-awareness can consciously influence situations and positively affect their teams. Leaders that are not self-aware make decisions and behave in ways that can lead to undesirable or negative consequences just like President Adama Barrow firing all competent UDP cabinet members and senior government functionaries members and replacing them with people he believes are his supporters.
Successful presidents or leaders are confident in their own hiring decisions, and allow their ministers, aides and others the freedom they need to come up with innovative ideas, initiatives or processes on their own. Those who micromanage only serve to limit creativity and potential, which demoralises employees and contributes to a frustrated and low-functioning workforce.
Giving and receiving feedback can feel uncomfortable, but failing to do so could seriously hurt the company or organisation. Unchecked inefficiencies and practices will hamper growth. Learning to embrace honest feedback with an open mind and the willingness to improve where necessary will make individuals, teams and the business stronger.
Additionally, when leaders routinely expose themselves to candid feedback, it makes it easier for employees to do the same.
Therefore, I sell to you the candidate of my choice for 4th December 2021 presidential election. I believe Ousainu Darboe has all these qualities and more. So I encourage you to vote for Ousainu Darboe of the United Democratic Party to become the fourth president of the Republic of The Gambia.
Ensa Ceesay is a former cadet inspector at the Gambia Immigration Department. He now lives in Olympia, Washington, United States of America.