Leadership and Social Change
According to John C. Maxwell, one needs to discover and implement life choices that will take them beyond their talent. In order for a leader to be successful, he/she has to be effective in leading his/her team to think strategically, innovatively, and sustainably.
About eleven years ago I started my leadership journey with a team of young people and we were all charged with the responsibility to organize the Rotary West African Peace Caravan by, the West African Youth Network (WAYN). The Caravan was designed to promote peace at the grassroots level in four countries across West Africa: Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
I met Richelieu Allison, Executive Director of WAYN, at the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border. According to him, he saw a passion in me for peace. With his words of support, I, along with a team of other young people, engaged in a three-day training of trainers’ workshop, participated in a peace caravan, led and inspired young peace builders engaged in remote towns and villages across the four countries to promote peace and regional collaborations.
Growing up, I had always been passionate about developing my leadership skills. This passion led me to join the UN Radio to become a team lead and a child broadcaster. Later, I became more interested and started asking some tough questions related to what is leadership from the African perspective in comparison to that of the Western perspective. It has come to my understanding that leadership is about giving, listening and encouraging. One has to first listen in order to lead effectively. Today, Africa, a continent with a robust youth population, still faces a leadership challenge. Many times, leaders tend to forget that if you cannot swallow your personal pride, succeeding at leadership will rest as a dream unrealized. Many in leadership positions on the African continent maintain the popular belief that popularity is leadership. Their perspective is that a good leader’s goal is to increase his/her followers’ motivation to achieve his/her personal interests.
With this in perspective, I hold the belief that Africa is still developing its core of transformational leaders that will motivate, inspire and stimulate innovation that drives positive social change, which I believe should be the focus. In so doing, leaders need to see themselves as social change agents and hold a strong set of values with the intent to motivate – that which remains a farfetched reality in Africa. As Africa evolves as continent for charismatic leadership, it is very important to develop the growth mindset as failures offer opportunity for growth in leadership.
A good leader must at all times understand the everyday reality and must not forget that in leadership your duty is to always remember your vision, values and purpose for positive social change.
As a case study in point, leaders in Liberia should understand how leadership can facilitate social change to impact the general citizenry. Leaders in Liberia should reflect and employ learning to manage citizens’ expectations while ensuring trust and legitimacy. Leadership in Liberia today should evolve into managing expectations by effectively mobilizing social change and engaging their constituencies in the governance process through inclusive and participatory processes to achieve desired collective outcomes. These areas must be considered for a transformed society in the social change context in Liberia; more collaboration, coordination is needed between government, citizens and civil rights groups.
Amos William – Liberia
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 32