Development Features

Aspiring leaders inspire others

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu (right) greets 8 year old Joseph Chinyemba Jr during the Luncheon with Zambian Children at Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on Friday, January 29,2016. PICTURE BY SALIM HENRY/ STATE HOUSE ©2016

JONES SAMWENDA
THE following words were written on a tombstone of a Bishop:
When I was young and free and my imagination
had no limits, I dreamt of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser, I discovered
the world would not change, so I shortened my
sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.
But it, too, seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last
desperate attempt, I settled for changing only
my family, those closest to me, but alas, they
would have none of it.
And now I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly
Realise: If I had only changed myself first, then by
Example I would have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement, I
Would then have been able to better my country
and who knows, I may have even changed the world.
Anonymous
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My advice to any person who is vying for a leadership position or one who has a dream of becoming that great leader is simply that you need to lead yourself before you even consider leading other people.
If you aspire to lead a team of talented individuals, are you leading your family well? If you want to teach your team to be disciplined, are you disciplined yourself? Otherwise why should you rush to lead a team, a community, a ward, a constituency or a country successfully when you cannot even lead yourself successfully?
I do not know of any person who would willingly follow someone who does not know where he/she is going except maybe on twitter or some drinking buddies who know that there is a ‘big buyer’ in their midst.
I have heard of people with leadership potential who have been blackmailed out of their positions by their rivals with threats of exposing those acts they believed were surreptitious such as an affair with a married person or drug use.
I would encourage young people or indeed anyone who wants to entrust the mantle of leadership to someone purely on how much alcohol or material things they are given to look at how the person manages himself or herself, what he or she has been able to do with the little that they have done. If you are satisfied with what you find out then maybe you should consider them at the next level.
Sometimes we entrust people with responsibilities when we know that their track record is below par. It’s like trusting someone to keep money for you when you know that they are very poor at managing their own or entrusting your child in the hands of a known child offender.
I refuse to accept the saying, ‘do what I say and not what I do’ as a norm for leadership. You should not sell a car that you do not drive, food that you are allergic to or a house that you cannot live in. Because then you are not a leader, you are a fraud.  It is really confusing for marriage counselors to be taking their spouses to court for divorce.
Teachers also need to ensure that their children are performing very well in school. Their teaching methods should work at home just like they work in class.
Before you even consider going out there to convince others, stand in front of the mirror and convince yourself that you deserve an opportunity to lead others.
Look at how you manage your resources, look at how you manage your responsibilities as a child, a parent or a community leader. If you are convinced, then you are the right person for that position and I would gladly endorse your consideration for that position.
I wish you all the best as you work on becoming the next great leader of your generation!
The author is a writer, motivational speaker and behaviour change activist.

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