By Ogova Ondego
Published September 10, 2012
Several men and women are continuing to register their interest in the Presidency of Kenya as the country prepares for the general elections in March 2013 under the new constitution that came into force in August 2011.
Although the “Leadership and Integrity” (Chapter Nine) section of the constitution of Kenya stipulates responsibilities and conduct of leadership, it doesn’t say much about the criteria by which the electorate must go, leaving us with little option but to turn to Plato’s Social Philosophy Theory that states that a governor must be both highly educated and morally upright. Knowledge must be combined with virtue. Accordingly, only a virtuous and knowledgeable person qualifies to lead society (see The Republic).
Only men and women with vision, integrity, transparency and accountability can help steer countries like Kenya that are situated in a politically turbulent Horn of Africa region to stability and socio-economic and political development.
A leader is anyone with a vision and the ability to influence others to take a particular course of action. Such a person knows what is best, can clearly communicate this goal to them and then persuade them to work toward achieving it. Accordingly, experts on leadership use vision and its implementation in categorising men and women who want to lead.
A leader who is low on vision and implementation is known as a “victim”. Such a “victim” always blames others for the leader’s shortcomings. A man or woman who is high on vision but lacks the ability to influence others to buy that vision is referred to as a “dreamer”. His or her vision remains just that: a idea.
A “leader-manager” is high on both vision and its implementation. In this model, the “leader-manager” translates vision into action. “Leader-managers” make those they lead do things they would never have thought of or attempted on their own.
What happens where there are no “leader-managers”? If “doers” and “dreamers” collaborate, they can achieve as much as “leader-managers”.
When I suggested to a colleague recently that the only way to vote wisely was to analyse each presidential character before casting a vote, she dismissed me as a perpetuator of the status quo due to the fear of the unknown. She said this because I had dismissed her favourite presidential candidate as being unfit to lead according to Plato’s The Republic and Kenya’s constitution on the integrity of public servants. Like this well meaning but uninformed woman, there are many people in Kenya (and other parts of Africa) whose support for leaders (read, politicians) is done along gender, ethnic, race or religious considerations.