The Other Face of Leadership
Most of us have added ‘leadership’ as a quality into our CV, watched dozens of inspiring speakers talk about leadership, and even attended webinars regarding the subject. However, do we ever stop to think of the opposite? What happens when fictional, bad leaders come to life?
Strong leaders inspire people, treat everyone equally, are tolerant, and make others feel heard. They support, help individuals grow and become better than the person they were yesterday. Having good leaders can have a massive impact — a society prospers and thrives under them. There exists a parallel between good leadership and commitment to the purpose a person sets out to achieve.
When asked about good leadership, Dani Hakim, co-founder of Safe Space said, “Good leaders and role models just need to be humans. Being kind, compassionate, empathetic, and having basic human qualities while being a leader is what makes it the right reason to lead people”.
She also added that, “Good leaders are plugged in at the same level as the public rather than being high above on an ivory tower”.
People at high positions of authority, such as leaders of worldwide organizations, politicians, corporations with their laws, can greatly impact people — more than one can imagine. Poor leadership seeps into the very fabric of society, severely affects socio-economic factors like economy, jobs, safety, and overall living standard. This affects how we grow as individuals and the opportunities we receive. They view people like statistics, but not actual human beings.
They contaminate minds by justifying their biases, creating disparity between people using fear, hate, and differences, instead of building harmony and a safe environment. They use structures like caste, class, culture, religion, power, and influence to buy out votes and widen those disparities. They rarely get held accountable for being racist, misogynistic, unfair, creating a fascist society, and committing terrible atrocities. People become collateral damages in their pursuit of personal agenda. Poor leadership according to Dani Hakim is, “when people lead with ego and do it for the wrong reasons, for things such as power and money”.
We witness how some countries are managing to overcome this pandemic by maintaining the number of cases. When citizens are safe and informed, it creates a sense of trust and cooperation between the public and the government. The leaders of UAE handled the situation rapidly and kept the citizens safe with several measures — implementing a lockdown, providing guidelines and online platforms, and most importantly, assuring citizens that they were there for them. New Zealand reported cases only in hundreds at their peak due to their quick response and effective methods. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern implemented a country wide lockdown and border control to not only mitigate the virus, but eliminate it.
When we compare that to countries that managed it inadequately, the number of cases hit the roof. While economies and jobs dropped down significantly and swiftly. In times of crisis, poor leadership can harm multiple factors of life for the citizens. Countries such as the United States and India top the list. They continue to report cases in thousands and are still on the rise. WHO’s Director-General remarked, “Mixed messages from leaders are undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust. If governments do not clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives; it’s going to get worse”.
The mistakes are the same in India and the United States – shortage of testing kits, low testing rate, lack of transparency. Misinformation plays a key role in the failure of prevention. Donald Trump, for instance, suggested injecting disinfectant as a treatment for coronavirus, but doctors warned that the idea could have fatal results, as reported in the BBC news.
We tend to look up at leaders as role models who are here to build the country for the better. However, behind this curtain of fake, ambiguous promises, we fail to notice people who choose to become leaders solely to satisfy their thirst for power and wealth. Rather than genuinely wanting to help people and serve them, they slowly piece together a tyrannic oppressive regime. History has reported several accounts of such leaders, yet time and again have we let ourselves believe and fall into their trap of manipulation and lies. It is time that we call out injustice for what it is and start by becoming not just better people, but better leaders and role models. We need to remember our roots — we began at the bottom and worked our way up with help and support. There is no finish line to this race. Our only intention should be to become better and help the people around us to do the same.