Sunday, September 02, 2007

Authentic Leaders--Who Are They?

It's no surprise that I'm committed to seeing Africa move from requiring aid to active participation in trade. I just don't think it will happen if we train African leaders to be good little copies of Euro-centric styles of leadership. I think a cut of this is the complaint many have of Hillary Clinton: they think that she's succeeded to well in being the best little shark in the water. On one televised focus group, one women commented on the possibility of a Hillary Clinton Whitehouse. Another woman replied that she might gain the Whitehouse, but that it wouldn't mean that there would be a woman in that seat of power.

While I was in Namibia, I got to meet extensively with several leaders in the Namibian government, most of whom were Western educated (their families got them out of the country in part to help them survive the worst of the upheaval connected with the death throes of apartheid). I found myself more than a little worried that they seemed to be adopting the best (and the worst) of our leadership styles. For instance, while women were making inroads in public service, the halls of Corporate Namibia looked like ours: from the year 1980.

Yup, troubling.

In this TED talk, Patrick Awuah discusses failures in leadership that he believes are connected to a failure to train leaders. He left a great gig in Seattle to start a liberal arts college in Ghana. He succeeded in imbuing them with ethical quick-thinking and idealism.

Ray asked a great question in the LinkedIn Q&A: Who do you see as authentic leaders? Here's the text of his question...

I think it is easy to pick out leaders from the past who made an impact, like Gandhi, Marting Luther King, Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Niels Bohr, Einstein..... Who do you see as historic leaders, local or on the world stage? and today? who do you see as authentic leaders, again local and global?
Be sure you post your responses there or here.