Nation’s journey to exemplary leadership
By Dr Abdul Saboor
Pakistan is severely facing a leadership crisis in almost all fields of life where people are working at different positions and roles in the state machinery. Many people serving in leadership positions are not very well trained and groomed in demonstrating a solution oriented direction. Their approach is problem focused in which intellectual energy is burnt in its nitty-gritty. The blame game is thus quite prominent in public and private offices. The crisis remains unresolved and in some cases gets more serious. Its ripple effect can be watched among youth who has become confused and taken the meaning of leadership as power and authority. One can find such a missing character of many of our leaders in the domains of academia, domestic life, economy, politics, religion and society. But this does not mean that the potential of leadership is not available with these leaders. This crisis, in actual, is associated to the fact that actual leaders at various portfolios are not delivering the way the inbuilt qualities exist in them. They do not do for which they have been divinely created. Leaderless leading scenario comes up in public life.
We see the leadership crisis in a variety of forms in public and private offices. It is a matter of common observation in public offices that for the top leaders, loyalty of the employee towards them is more important than the loyalty towards state organs and systems. Many people in executive positions become victim of heroism in which authority dominates over the command of leadership. When it is thought that any idea given by the top leader is final, the emerging leaders down the ladder get frustrated. The intellectual voice is buried while the voice of favoritism comes in the surface. Similarly, a high level of vision and wisdom sometimes become hurdle for an exemplary leader to be in a leadership position. In private offices, leaders try to exploit the labor through various means. They do not realize that the efficiency and productivity of their employees is violently suffered due to such leadership scenarios.
The connotation of leadership is very broad and wide. Some marvelous practices of ordinary people in an extraordinary way come in the purview of leadership. It is not a kind of rank, title or tenure. It is the second name of delivery, performance and guidance on the basis of which exemplary stuff of leadership is established. It is our positive role we play with total commitment rather than our positions which matter. History lovers can recognize the fact that all the miracles were not accorded by people sitting at top positions but the leaders down the whole structural pyramid were also important. Moreover, these leaders who created success stories would have done quite a good in their junior positions. Leadership is not like a solo flight; it is a team play. There is hardly any success story in the world which is created by super human and without the help of anyone else. Leaders need the support, commitment and engagements of other leaders.
Leadership is neither a specific gene nor a trait running across generations. It may not be taken as a mystical quality the features of which have been attained through some position and power. The attributes of exemplary leadership are not specially imprinted in our DNAs. It is a natural gift equally and uniquely distributed across all human beings. Some of us become able to mobilize it while others keep this natural gift untapped following the myth of ‘born leaders’. In reality, all leaders are born and so are we all. We all have wonderful potential to do wonders. Exemplary leadership is always backed by some leadership performance and practices. We have enough inbuilt and natural potential to follow such best practices in our leadership positions.
The Science of Leadership carries much wisdom which may enhance our learning of best practices of exemplary leaders in the world. As for instance, it has been examined that on an average we capitalize almost one third of our potential under worst leadership scenario. Some of the public offices are actual witness of this finding where top leadership is always taken as an element of fear and frustration. This dismal picture is in sharp contrast of what people perform under best leadership scenario. In this situation, more than 100 percent talent is mobilized. This means that people do more than they ever thought they have the potential to perform. And most of these best performers become future leaders with relatively higher profile of best performance. This is how the journey to exemplary leadership continues. And this is what is required in Pakistan right at the moment.
We must realize that every one of us has already everything we need to become an exemplary leader in different positions and functions. Every one of us has the necessary ingredients and material to become a leader of our own choice. The inherent potential of exemplary leadership available with us may be activated to the welfare of humanity if both the physical and ultra physical ingredients of our body are integrated and harmonized in a moderate fashion. Physical strength helps us in making rational decision while ultra-physical fabric generates spiritual power which may implement those rational decisions in a sober way. Pursing the leadership tasks with full spirit certainly erases all negativity. Good performance of the exemplary leader is thus the by-product of inner truth which is to prevail.
There is no denying the fact that leadership, either positive or negative, makes a difference in our own life and life of the people around us. How we react to an act of others and facts of truth finally shapes the good or bad journey to exemplary leadership. By holding biases and losing temper, we tempt to kill the functional cells of leadership. Sometimes very bombastic ideas do not make a place for want to inner sincerity of the leader. The result is nothing but chaos as we can observe around us in all walks of life. On the other hand, by behaving modesty, we come in the mode of soothing journey to exemplary leadership. Our good behavior at the outset of odd situation is the litmus test of our leadership. It is not cognizant to what we do; it is what we deliver for ourselves and for others in a graceful way. It is a practice; not a phrase to be learnt.
If top leadership is really interested to do something exemplary for people of their country, they should come out of the ‘reactionary mode’ which is leading nowhere but social explosion that may ultimately make cracks in the economic and political edifice. For a new Pakistan, they will have to take a start of new journey towards exemplary leadership. Looking for the solution of problems may be the best recipe rather than turning the debate into mere discussion of issues and problems again and again. The philosophical but simplistic narratives developed in this piece of writing help in chalking out a compressive leadership plan for Pakistan. A level play field needs to be created at all public offices for meritocracy on the very basis of exemplary leadership. It would a great gesture of government to launch a Leadership Program in all state organs and ministries in the country. All the political parties should follow suit for making a leadership plan; so should be the case for all state machineries.
It has been established in the corridors of history that leaders are of different categories but leadership is same as far as the common attributes are concerned. It makes a meaningful difference if the active and reactive behavior of leaders is managed on rational grounds. All leaders are unique not only in their routine functions and performance but also in the pursuit of achieving same goal with different techniques. They do not have to be anyone else except who they are. Their leadership behavior is continuous and dynamic.
Old ideas are evaporated; new leadership philosophy emerges with new tools and techniques. Leaders are changing over the period of time but the journey to exemplary leadership progresses. Given the fact that we are leaders by birth, let us make our leadership a true practice as per Laws of Nature. If any one of us is really interested in becoming an exemplary leader he or she should lead others as if all were leaders in their respective positions and functions. And all are as important and honorable as we think ourselves.
Dr Abdul Saboor is professor of economics and Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi