Leaders key in fighting corruption in organisations

KELVIN Siwale.

LEADERSHIP plays a critical role in the successful achievement of organisational strategic goals. At the centre of leadership is a person called a leader, who is expected to drive an organisation through a strategic road to the organisation’s dreamland.

Therefore, for the success of an organisation, the quality of leadership matters.
John Maxwell defines leadership simply as influence. Leadership is thus an influence process. What the leader says and does, to a large extent, determines the direction of the followers. Only deviants go their own direction.
In anti-corruption, a leader is placed in a very key position. The influence that a leader provides spreads like bush fire among the led. This means if the leader is corrupt, corruption will be the theme of an organisation. Conversely, if we have an ethical leader, the organisation will be branded with integrity and corruption will be a stranger among the led.
Every leader must be cognisant that there are people looking up to them for a positive direction. Any leader that closes their mind to this makes a big mistake, which marks the beginning of their downfall and loss of organisational direction. Leaders are therefore encouraged to guard their influence and ensure that they influence the people rightly. This means that a leader should be of sound mind and judgement so that they know what is wrong and what is right.
One thing for sure is that everyone who is blessed with leadership has an intuition that tells them which one is the right decision to make. In most cases, leaders mess up because they ignore their conscience whispering to them on what to do. Nobody who engages in corruption does so freely. They always fight with their conscience until they allow their greedy hearts to win the battle.
Essentially, if we are going to successfully stamp out corruption in our nation, leaders in our families, organisations, political parties, media houses, law enforcement, parastatals and non-governmental organisations need to be wholeheartedly resolved to do so.
There is need to set the tone from the top. Leaders must walk the talk. Have you made your position on corruption clear to your followers or employees? According to Sven Bierman, (2013), leaders should make it clear to their followers that corruption is not condoned in their business. In this case, a management statement on corruption should be published in an organisation. For instance, the Government of the Republic of Zambia launched a national statement on corruption: “A corruption-free Zambia begins with me.” Very true and a good approach to the fight against corruption. All leaders of government institutions should buy into this important message, internalise it and make it a reality in their official duties. Setting the tone from the top means leaders, after making their stance known on corruption, should go further to lead by example. The theory of ‘do as I say and not as I do’ is naive and exhibits two-facedness in a leader.
If the leader says no-one should abuse organisational funds and they are seen demanding and drawing moneys beyond their entitlement or for trips they have not undertaken, what will those officers who are privy to the payments think? Definitely, they will think your anti-corruption statements are a mere smoke screen. Can a parent who is always beating his wife in front of his children advise the same children against fighting? Oh please, no moral backbone to address the matter.
Same to leadership, haven’t you wondered why your chief executive officer (CEO) cannot talk about corruption, theft and other vices? There is no morality to address the subject because they know that those officers who have been facilitating their illegal payments and bribes, know and so they would rather let sleeping dogs lie.
Leaders should not only say but live what they say. Every follower should know that their leader does not condone corruption and that everyone found wanting is punished. This should be written everywhere in the organisation and all over the face of its leaders, especially the CEO. The only way to influence your followers positively is through possessing credibility and be a role model.
A leader or manager can only produce after their own kind. Leaders should be ethical and influence their followers in the positive direction. A leader that says ‘do as I say and not as I do’ is one that will never be respected. All leaders are called upon to step up the fight against corruption. Don’t wait for the Anti-Corruption Commission to come and investigate, you can mainstream anti-corruption into your operations.
As we close, one of the major temptations of a leader is ubomba mwibala alya mwibala (personal gain). Always listen to that gentle inner voice, it is never wrong. Don’t suppress it because of selfish personal desires.
The author is an anti-corruption specialist.

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