Columnists

Behind Aretha Franklin’s success

EDGAR Chibuta.

Analysis: EDGAR CHIBUTA
THE cold hands of death have fallen and taken from us the great queen of soul Aretha Franklin who was put to rest on August 31, 2018 in a funeral attended by a number of prominent people. Aretha leaves behind a great legacy of loyal followers and am pretty sure this queen of soul has taught us a lot in regard to how we are supposed to manage our careers and the people we lead.
I first came to hear about Aretha in 1982 when my late father, Mr Hopewell Mutunwa (MHSRIP), bought a long playing record comprising songs done by this daughter of the soul who was inducted in the hall of fame in 1987 and made history by becoming the first female to receive such massive recognition. Her music brought joy and a higher sense of meaning to the listeners and being part of that legion, I have never regretted listening to her timeless songs such as Jimmy Lee and Amazing Grace. Zambian singers and musicians have a lot to learn from such a giant in music whose career started in 1956 up to the time of her death.
Her music was soothing to say the least and it is undeniable that she commanded respect as a musical icon for close to 62 years on a world wide scale. Her life is for sure a great lesson to leadership scholars and has a great bearing on procurement subordinates who are at hand to give professional help to the Head of Procurement or Chief Procurement Officer (or Assistant Director as some will prefer to be called). Great leaders need credible followers at hand and the latter are expected to exhibit the highest level of tolerance to divergent views from those they are to succeed as Aretha did. Great leaders live long and have learned to leave the stage when everyone is clapping and the story of this diva in Aretha Franklin is a case in point.
A good Procurement Head must be supported by a bunch of loyal subordinates or supporters just like a great performer is backed by a strong number of loyal supporters who are in most cases ready to pay a higher stake just to see to it that such a one performs to expectations. The Public Procurement Act (2008), being alive to the fact that Corporate Governance needs to be promoted, has seen the need for the creation of a Procurement Unit which is headed by the Head Procurement and the latter acts as the secretariat to the Procurement Committee. Subordinates in the Procurement Unit or Procurement Department are therefore expected to play that affirmative role in ensuring that the work of the Head Procurement (or Assistant Director) is smooth and in compliance with the laws of the profession.
Aretha had a number of supporters in the music industry and it is these supporters who contributed to her growth as the queen of soul music. In the same way, I can liken the band members to the subordinates at a place of work and the positive contribution the latter are expected to contribute to the growth of a leader in particular and the organisation in general. Many of the audit queries in procurement can be attributed to non-compliance to orders on the part of the subordinates and this, in its own right, greatly contributes to the promotion of a bad work culture as well as poor implementation of projects.
Composing songs, just as an example, is a project and so is the construction of a building or delivery of farmers’ inputs. It is very important to coordinate such works and ensure that those tasked to undertake such works comply with not only the orders but the very law that governs that particular industry. I do not remember hearing that Aretha Franklin had plagiarised a song done by another musical icon and if at all that did happen then I can be happy to read about it and learn a lesson or two from it. The queen of soul was original and had a credible team of subordinates, such as directors and song writers, to help her come up with songs, such as Jimmy Lee and Amazing Grace, that will for sure stand the taste of time. It is a great lesson to all the subordinates on the need for loyalty to those in the lead as the Bible admonishes at Roman 13 verse 1
Followership is therefore a very important component in the success of any leader and the moment we realise that simple or basic idea, the better for us. Being an ardent follower comes with a lot of whistles and bells and one such is the need not to follow blindly. Creativity and being abreast with the tides and world dynamics makes one credible and of value to a leader in particular and the group in general. Aretha had such a team accounting for the massive airplay the diva enjoyed in the music industry for a period not less than 60 years
The reason why any leader needs a set of sharp followers or subordinates can never be under estimated in the procurement of goods and services. It is common reasoning that the very reason why this profession is important and has been recognised in Zambia is the need to add value to project implementation by fostering efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in the Supply Chain System. This calls for group work doesn’t it? Such a group must be alive to the legal protocols that govern the procurement profession and this is further emphasized when you consider how the evaluation of bids is supposed to be done under regulation 92 up to regulation 102 of the Public Procurement Regulation (2011). Critical analysis of bids is the key to having responsiveness.
A good follower is therefore expected to play a positive role in the procurement of goods and services and no leader is expected to sideline those people under his or her charge. Many of the audit queries are as a result of lack of deeper seated knowledge on the part of the procurement practitioners, however it is interesting to note that in some cases this can be attributed to deliberate ploys at the hands of those with vested interest in any transaction at hand. We need to foster group work to curtail such vices and bring sanity to this important profession by being good and objective followers.
The world will surely miss this great queen of soul music but some may wonder why I have decided to bring the achievement of this daughter of the African soil into the world of academics! Aretha Franklin has been recognised by many universities for her leadership and musical strides achieved for the period stated. It is therefore befitting to recognise her contribution to leadership not only as a singer but as a motivator of followers within her band as well as those buying her songs
The old lady was simply an amazing grace and may her soul rest in peace.
The author is Purchasing and Supplies Assistant, Chavuma District Education Board.

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