Catholic Archdiocese of Accra - Department for Pastoral and Social Communication

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Passing-on the Mantle of Leadership: What the Ghanaian Youth Need to Know

It is always interesting when it comes to the election of leaders in any democratic institution. The people are offered the opportunity to choose leaders who will lead them for a certain period of time. The type of leader that is elected reflects the people’s desire, aspirations and needs.

If their aspirations and needs are not fulfilled within a stipulated time frame, then people opt for a new leader who can address their problems and satisfy their needs.

There is a need for the youth of today to understand what leadership is, who can be a good leader and what should be expected of leaders. This understanding can help them prepare themselves for such roles in the future.

The understanding will also help the youth to thoroughly discuss related issues and manifestoes of those who want leadership positions, compare and contrast and see who can help them now and the future.

We have to understand that leadership is a gratuitous gift of God. It is entrusted to us so that we exercise it under His constant guidance and direction to achieve positive results for the good of the people we lead and to the glory of God.
So, such an understanding and use of leadership makes one of the symbols of love and creates the atmosphere which leads to respect and care for the common good for the people of God.

What we should look for from the people vying to fill positions of responsibility is whether they are prepared to be servants. Jesus shared with His Disciples on leadership in (Mark 10:43-45) that “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave of all. For the son of Man also came out not to be served but to serve, and to give his life ransom for many.”

This should be the attitude of every person who seeks political power in Ghana and in the Church. He or she is there to serve and not to be served; which enjoins every leader to be a servant.

It is a truism that the problem that has plagued many nations, Churches, institutions and Societies is that of leadership. At the same time, however, we have to acknowledge that some countries, organisations and societies in the Church have made great strides due to good and effective leadership. It is therefore the longing of all people to get good leaders who can lead them make progress and achieve their aims and objectives.

There are four different ways by which people become leaders. We have elections; whereby the electorate goes to the poll. Some attain their leadership through nominations or appointment. This is conferred on the recipient by the competent authority. Yet some assume leadership by force. This is characterised by incapacitation or loss of life and that can derail goals and set plans.

It is important for the youth in the country at these crucial moments know the types of leadership that exist and what type he or she would like to be.

The first is autocratic where the leader thinks he knows it all. His or her views are the only good ones; all other people are subordinate to him. The autocratic leader is oppressive and suppressive. He or she does not tolerate criticism and kills or incarcerates all people with opposing views. He or she does not accept defeat. The autocratic leader likes to hold on to power even though he or she may not be performing creditably well.

The democratic leader is a sharp contrast. This type of leader believes in the capability of other people and so takes decisions after a thorough discussion by the group. He or she believes in group dynamics, interaction and inter-relationship. The democratic leader expects views from all sections and respects them. The views of the people are taken into consideration in any policy initiative.

This type of leadership discourages fear of reprisal. Every problem is solved through proper channel. The laws are upheld and respected and always there is total discipline.

Then there is the laissez-faire type of leadership. Here, the leader is an active participant in any group discussions. He or she supports every idea or programme of everyone, whether negative or positive based on merit. He or She has become popular with everybody. But that brings about trouble in the group since he or she may be seen as supporting conflicting ideas and programmes. This does not augur well for any group or society.

All these three leadership styles have their advantages and disadvantages. But what is important is which one is the best. One person may like a particular one and another person may prefer the other. This problem comes about due to different conditions that may be occurring in various circumstances.

There are situations where people are stubborn, disobedient, uncompromising and difficult to control, in such cases, autocratic expression of power is needed to bring about order. But when you are in a situation where you need different shades of ideas to tackle a specific problem or chart a course of action for a society, you need a democratic leader to do that.

The advantage of the laisser-faire type of leadership is that it forestalls confusion in a group, since it makes each person in a group feel a sense of worth, and fosters social gathering. The leader is submissive to the subordinate because they are strict on him or her.

With this, the best and ideal type of leadership for youth is the blend of autocracy and democracy. In my view, a leader must have a mixture of 15 percent autocracy and 85 percent democracy. A leader with the blend of the two in proper proportion can always use the democratic means of doing things but when things are getting out of hands, he or she can be strong enough to see to it that the right things are done to move the group forward.

It is impossible for any group to remain static. There is either a process of growth or one of decline. Understanding, the most dangerous time for any group, is when they have become established. At this stage, things usually go well.

However, there can be complacency and a tendency to fall into rigid institutionalism, for example, “we have always done it this way.” Eventually, the group is killed and leaders become stale and tired.

These are all signs that groups will begin to decay and decline. In order to prevent this from occurring, it is important that you continually move forward through a process of ongoing vision development. Leadership is vital and good leaders will be frequently asking themselves, what sort or style of leadership does our group need at this time?

One of the essential qualities of a good leader is that they want to see other people’s gifts and skills developed. They will be constantly looking at their group trying to recognise the gifts and release the untapped potentials. A leader is a person of vision who is never content with the present reality, however good that may be. They have eyes to see “what is” and a vision to see “what could be”. In all round they become visionary people.

Wise leaders invest time in mentoring and coaching others. They recognise that for sustained growth and longevity, it is vital to bring new people into leadership and to rise up young leaders.

Discernment is vital. The leader must constantly seek God’s guidance and know when it is the right time to step aside and handover responsibilities to others.

It is important that leaders are given appropriate training and support. Some of this occurs in a natural unstructured way.

A leader who influences others is people of influence. They inspire respect and confidence and are good role models. The leader who is serious about raising- up others will invest time in potential leaders.

They will be willing to share their wisdom without giving the impression that theirs is the only way to do things. Therefore, leaders who wish to train others in this way need to be open and flexible.

A leader shapes people’s behaviour. A Christian youth leader is always trying to change people through the power of the Holy Spirit. This may involve behavioural changes, thought patterns, attitudes or structural changes. On a personal level, the goal is for all people to grow more Christ-like. Then at the structural level it is the responsibility of the leader to get God’s people to the place where God wants them to be.

Primarily, a leader shapes and moulds others into Godliness through the witness of their own lives. Leaders inspire towards visions. Any group which wants to stand the test of time needs to be involved in ongoing vision development. This involves setting short and long-term goals and regularly maintaining activities, assessing and evaluating where appropriate, the group should also have in-build systems of accountability which keep them focused on their vision.

Leaders need to harness the energy of individuals and motivate them towards achieving their common goals. It is important that all members of the group are aware of the overall vision and to a certain extent, buy into it. However, the leader can invest quality time with potential leaders; they can be instrumental in developing the vision and become trend-setters.

Vision motivates and energises, so those who are directly involved could be more prepared to give more talk on additional areas of responsibility.

Leaders enable others to fulfil their potentials. Leaders do not do all the work but enable and equip others to be involved in the work too. Delegation is a key skill in leadership. This does not mean that the leaders abdicate or simply shares out the jobs. Effective delegation involves recognising a person’s ability and potential and working alongside them in ways that will give them security and build their confidence. The more able or experienced a person is and the more they have brought into vision, the less supervision they will require.

The overall aim of delegation is to empower others, releasing their gifts and potential. At this stage, experienced leaders need the maturity and wisdom to know when it is right to step aside and let new leaders take over or share in leadership.

Leadership does not have to seek a position to enrich himself or for power sake but to offer selfless service to God, neighbour and the Church. The servant of the Lord was prepared to lay down his life for his friends and he asks us to do the same. We must be prepared to die for our church so that people can make progress and find their place in this fast-changing global environment.

We need leaders who care, are sacrificial, committed and ready to offer guidance and direction, so that we can see the integral development of the group they are leading.
The good shepherd knows his flock. We need leaders who know their people, live with them, identify with their many problems, give them a sense of concern and help them move into the future with hope.

The leader should see himself as God’s steward. The leader must see his or her leadership as God-given and so feels responsible to Him in all things. Such a person is the one who fears God, respects Him and shows Him faithfulness and loyalty. A leader must always be truthful.

A leader who sees himself or herself as a steward is industrious and is a person of vision, who is ready to work hard for the attainment of that vision.

Source: Newswatchgh


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