Charismatic speeches and quirky gestures have become the blueprint for leaders around the globe in an effort to communicate a sense of ease in the midst of this global pandemic. Fast forward a few months, however and then we find ourselves at a crossroads between whether we still believe their projected confidence or whether we are starting to see holes in their armor.
Although being amusing can bring us far as leaders, the real incentive for staying indoors, not buying beer or cigarettes and not visiting friends have become vague in recent days. The arising frustration is also aided by watching countries like Japan and Sweden pull off no-lockdown approaches.
When I search the vast spaces of the internet for a clear definition on leadership, the majority turn up in revealing that it's about a person (the leader) being able to motivate other people (his followers) to achieve a common goal (in this case, survive a invisible and highly infectious virus). When I take the blueprint of this and try to match it with our world leaders today, it more often than not turns up negative.
The reasons for the mismatch could be a wide range of factors, but the one staring us directly in the face, is the overly charismatic leaders with no real direction. The spiel of confidence has gone on long enough and the followers are growing impatient.
Flexibility in Question
Please don't try to imagine Donald Trump or Cyril Ramaphosa doing yoga on a mat in their offices. The flexibility I am referring to is a intellectual one. The question we need to ask is, whether our leadership today is equipped to handle modern day challenges, like for instance: a global pandemic, or floods of unemployment.
If the answer is no, the second question should be what we can do about it. A leader is only as strong as his weakest advisor. When we explore the decisions presidents made based on true and factual data by experts in the field of infectious diseases, we are left with a handful of them. How are we finding ourselves in 2020 with leaders who can't take advice and admit their weaknesses?
The issue comes from a grassroots level. We in South Africa love to throw the previous word around like it's a rugby ball in a school break, and although we made massive headway in various areas we are implementing grassroots projects, how come we haven't done it with leadership?
Supply and Demand Curves: A Mini Lesson
To make the lesson short, we are in the picture far right, where the demand for good quality leadership is in excess and the supply is nowhere near.
We can play the blame game of where the problem started and who's fault the issue is, or we can engage in a conversation where we tackle the issues head-on. Although we can' t rub a lamp and wish for a group of world leaders who understand the difficulties their people are facing, actually care about it and execute strategies to improve our quality of life...we can start by equipping ourselves. And because I'm out of typing time before you get bored and stop reading the post, here is a terrific site you can visit on all things leadership: https://hbr.org/topic/leadership.
Our supply will further be improved by implementing and measuring the effectiveness leadership as a topic in education. When we sustainably include leadership into the curriculum with the same earnest as we do with math and science, we will see a surge in the quality and quantity of good and effective 21st century leaders of tomorrow.
What we need.
Our biggest need is leaders who are equally good at executing plans as they are at drawing them up. The innovative leaders of today will take charisma to another level and awaken in their followers an intrinsic motivation to achieve the goals we need to achieve in 2020 and beyond. Are you going to be one of those?