Tuesday, 13 September 2016

We cannot afford to distrust our leadership!

A country this beautiful deserves 'leadership' it can trust!
We cannot afford to distrust our leadership!
A country as beautiful as mine deserves a ‘leadership’ it can trust.
This month’s theme ‘distrust in leadership’ strikes close to my heart. The presence of trust and its absence thereof as one of those things that makes or breaks any relationship from personal ties to business relations may have been clich├ęd in the world of business, but one which still holds quite true. Where trust exists between people amazing things can happen. Even mountains can be moved with ease! On the flip side however, lasting success is a dream too far to grasp wherever trust fails to exist. As said quite often, nothing significant can be achieved where trust is missing. Even in the presence of overwhelming resources at the disposal of an organization.
My conception of this theme of distrust in leadership however goes beyond an organization, though not too far perhaps. Trust remains quite a milestone to be achieved by countries striving for progress and development. You see, this theme of distrust in leadership has helped me to finally make the connection with what Patrick Awuah, founder of Ashesi University once said that “the question of transformation in Africa is a question of leadership.” Now I have come to the conclusion that a nation must have trust in its leadership first before any dream of sustainable growth and development is pursued. What trust am I talking about? A nation must trust its leadership’s capacity in terms of its knowledge, its skills, and its sense of moral uprightness if real safety and growth shall be secured. Where trust fails however, the result can be catastrophic –as it was in the case with Ebola in my country not long ago.
The Ebola epidemic that struck my country not long ago is no news to anyone. But perhaps what many of us did not understand is that underneath the failed efforts to contain the disease at the outset was a huge mountain of distrust in the leadership itself. This was largely why almost 13,500 Sierra Leoneans contacted the dreadful virus, and nearly 4,000 lost their lives. Had there been trust in the leadership things would have been very different.
But wait, who are the leaders? I am talking about the doctors. I am talking about the nurses, the teachers, the media journalists, and the thousands more of Sierra Leoneans who stood at the waterfronts of the Ebola fight. These ‘leaders’ were the ones responsible for making the day-to-day decisions that held so much power over life and death during the very long months of the epidemic. In my opinion, it was this huge level of suspicion felt by the local communities towards the leadership; the doctors, the nurses, and the thousands more of emergency staff made up of Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life that made containing the virus almost impossible when the outbreak was youngest, and perhaps easiest to contain.
This distrust in our country’s leadership, illustrated by the Ebola epidemic, is quite founded. The pervasive nature of corruption in our country's way of life has left us very suspicious of authority. Even very honest intents can be judged with scornful eyes as this may just be yet another person trying to take their own piece. This same corruption is one of those factors that fueled the distrust that propelled our country into a decade-long civil war that claimed the lives of thousands of Sierra Leoneans. How this civil war devastated our country cannot be overstated. Yet, as recently as 2016 we are ranked among the top 10 most corrupt nations in the world! It should not surprise one then that we still have among the lowest life expectancy in the world, the highest number of children who die under the age of five, and we still rank among the lowest in the human development index. These all come as no surprise to a nation fraught with corruption.  
But Let us make no mistake. We have a way of tackling or starting to tackle this problem. It may be easier to solve than it may seem. It is our educational system that trains professionals that are unethical and grossly under skilled to handle matters of national development and security. If the school is where we train these leaders, it is therefore the best place to start our work of rebuilding trust in our leadership.  The first step is for us to go back to the drawing board and revitalize our educational system. All we need to do is to get serious about securing and channeling resources into rebuilding our nation by rebuilding an educational system that successfully trains a trustworthy leadership. Above all, it has been said that nations that succeed are serious about how they train their leaders. Let us do the same! Let's get serious about training our leaders!
You can support education that builds trust
But your are not in Sierra Leone, and probably not in education. What can you do to help build trust in leadership? The Ebola epidemic may be unique to Sierra Leone and its neighboring Guinea and Liberia, but instances of distrust in leadership exist all over the world. You can guide discussions whenever possible towards the importance of building trust in leadership as a key component of any succeeding nation, any succeeding organization, or business for that matter. You can also volunteer your effort and or resources towards supporting education that builds a stronger society.
On a final note, I believe you will agree with me that the process of building trust in leadership bends around how well we train our leaders with the knowledge, skills, and the moral firmness that build trust which is the cornerstone of all sustainable development and management of a country in a crisis. Had there been trust in our leadership, the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, and perhaps neighboring Guinea and Liberia may not have devastated our countries the way it did.
A country as beautiful as mine deserves leadership it can trust.
Thank you.