Leadership: In Search Of The Qualities Of The Ten Perfect Waheshimiwas Who Shall Take Us To The Promised Land Of Prosperity

Next year, 2012 will in no doubt be a watershed period for us as a nation and people.  It will be the year when for the first time the national levers of power will change under the dictates of the current one year old Constitution.

It will be a game changing time. A year when the number of new constitutional office bearers with the formal title of “Mheshimiwa” - honorables shall increase many folds.  It will be the year when the bullet train “Kenya Express”, shall depart the station for the promised land of social stability, peace and prosperity. The promised land of economic competitiveness among comity of nations, just like our inspirational athletes did outperform the World’s super powers, at the recently concluded the 13th edition of the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Today, we are all anxiously set for a momentous national journey. The Legislature and the executive have done a sterling job by putting the necessary Acts for departure in record time.  For all purposes, it appears soon all we shall be doing are “pre-departure checks”. The critical process for the success of this for mission is having the right people at the right places. The first step of that process has began with the sourcing for  Mheshimiwas of the Judiciary and the process is going so well.

The second phase of filling the Kenya Express with the right caliber of Waheshimiwas (Commissioners) is in respect with Commissions in accordance with Chapter 15 of the constitution. The process of formulating specific Acts and sourcing for the perfect Commissioners in every of the 10 commissions is work in progress. Panelists are everywhere just doing that.  Kenyans expect at the end of the day to have 10 commissions with 90 commissioners of high intellects, intensity and fidelity to lead these commissions and help run the “Kenya Express” to its desired vision with greatest of precision.

The third and the most critical pre-departure phase of our national journey of having the right people at the right places will be ushered in by the sovereignty of the people on the day of the coming general election. The forthcoming general election will usher in eight additional Waheshimiwas. These are the President and his deputy, the governors and their deputies, the members of the two chambers of the legislators, the women MPs and members of the county assemblies.  Finally, the President will form his or her cabinet secretaries and appoint principal secretaries for the lean yet more powerful and highly resourced ministries.

While searching for the perfect Waheshimiwas, we, the voters should appreciate that we are acting as vetting panelists for the President, MP’s and other elective positions. The voters as well as respective Panelists for vetting constitutional office holders need to know the categories of leaders, what motivates them and their action logics.  Being aware of these categories of leaders will help us make great judgment in selecting or electing perfect Waheshimiwas for the right positions in our Kenya Express. These six categories are; 1) still-borns, 2) Opportunists, 3) Diplomats, 4) Peacocks, 5) Achievers and 6) Stars

First, still-borns are people who, for some reasons, positions of leadership have been thrust upon them.  They did not earn them.  Good examples are situations where children of achievers have inherited the leadership positions of their parents but failed miserably, never coming closer to the expectation of their followers.  It is amazing to note across the World how people with Einsteinian brilliance and courage have off-springs who are so dim witted and so non-public spirited. The voters and others who hire public leaders should be wary of giving public responsibility to those interested only because of having famous surnames.

Second, opportunists are non authentic leaders, unethical, self-centered individuals, who like a good trader, have good business sense. They cannot be trusted with constitutional public office, because most of the time, through words, actions and decisions, they act opportunistically.  They are characterized by mistrust, ego and they have tendency to focus on personal wealth and promotion and see the office as opportunities to be exploited. They treat other people, even those who supported them at great sacrifice as objects or as competitors who are also out for themselves.  They have low opinion on everybody else except themselves.  The voters must always ask, to what extent are their candidates opportunistically self-serving, before giving them their approval.  Examples of these categories of leaders are strewn across our landscape. Corrupt leaders and managers belong here.

Third, diplomats are also professionals who operate from the action logic view that avoids conflicts, seeks to appease higher status and rational efficiency where possible.  They may be branded as the careerists “running with the hare and hunting with the hounds”.  May be they are good as supportive glue and individual contributors to bureautic structure of public and private sectors. They always boast of being the longest serving this or that in Africa. They do not make great political leaders. Voters and panelists alike must seek more adventurous and courageous leaders who are ready to bring about “creative destruction” societal advancement in a Schumpeterian sense.

Fourth, the peacocks are category of leadership that is characterized by type of leaders with too much self-importance, intellect, culture and full of display but little substance.  In one defense academy, the peacocks were identified as officers who spoke many languages, poets, with outstanding dress, institutional ability and physical presence, but when assigned to field operations, could not deliver one major victory in battle. In the same breath, panelists should know that there are people who are gifted in passing very well interviews but who, like the peacocks, cannot deliver any sustained memorable results of their institutions when assigned to those jobs.

Some people could ask, is Prof. P.L.O Lumumba in this category of peacocks?  As in game of football as in most of elements of live, we need scorers, not entertainers. The voters should not be mesmerized by the display of “peacocks”. They should look deeper, discover the real diamond of leaders and hire them in the next election. Peacocks play important roles though, and can occupy special places in the Kenya Express.

Fifth, achievers are people who are mostly desired for goal achievements.  They are team players, have high sense of responsibilities and managerial duties. They are able to achieve their goals through strategists, personal and organizational transformations. They see themselves as a means to the ends of the needs of the people who hired them.  They avoid “blame-storming”. They see issues, own them, solve them and do them. People, who have had history of substantial achievements, belong to this category.

Sixth, stars are uncommon institutional founders and leaders who posses, extraordinary ability to renew or even reinvent themselves and their organizations in historically significant way.  They generate social transformation. The best example is the founder of Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Yew and Nelson Mandela. They integrated, the material, spiritual and social transformation of Singapore and South Africa respectively, though Mandela’s legacy is still work in progress. The stars are also called Alchemists.  If voters can find possible Alchemists in Presidential candidates and governors, they should not hesitate to give them their votes and hire them.

The people who will be seeking elective and other constitutional offices, for sure, will fit well one category or another out of these six. Members of the legislature will consist of people sent to the National Assembly by folks back home. They are expected to consist of extraordinary members and some not so extraordinary on both sides of the aisle and few old soreheads. The voters should vote wisely and help the nation to cross to the promised land of prosperity.

In other key positions, the appointing authorities and concerned recruiting panelists should only be guided by one thing; strategic interest of the Kenya Express by getting those who are most qualified for the existing positions and fit the billings of the qualities of the perfect Waheshimiwas.

Mr. Khalid is a commentator on social issues