Exceptional Leaders Shouldn't be Exceptions

Jul 18 , 2020
By Eden Sahle

Leadership requires giving succour to ideas and organising and encouraging individuals and institutions to put them into practice. It is a privileged position that is all the more critical in a country teetering on the edge, consumed with rampant poverty and violent conflict.

The concept that political leaders exist for the sake of the public, and not vice versa, has never fully been accepted in Ethiopia. Neglecting and abusing the economic, political and social rights of citizens continues to be not as egregious an act as long as it is done by someone to their own “people.”

This is the direct consequence of the generational political experience of Ethiopia. Those in power failed to manage to influence society in a positive direction, and thus felt they needed to use force to nudge society in that direction. They have set a distorted example in their exercise of power that others emulated for centuries. Leaders forget their promises and what they told the public as soon as they comfortably settled in power.

It does not take a political observer of the first class to realise that bad leadership and corruption in government have hampered the economic, political and social development of Ethiopia. Lack of an efficient and practical national vision has dragged the country away from substantial progress.

Political leaders, both inside and outside of power, like to pay lip service to the economic backwardness of the country and the violence that continues to reign in relationships between communities. But most of them, if not all, fail to see their contribution to this state of affairs. In their eyes, everything they say or do is justified as long as it is coming from them. We rarely ever hear them admitting wrongdoing or expressing regret for the consequences their actions and words might have had.

No government or political leader can be perfect. Still, by staying in touch with the public demand based on unwavering respect for different opinions and constructive criticism, leaders can meet the needs and interests of those they claim to represent.

Political leaders, by virtue of embodying the moral and ethical basis for worldviews, have the great responsibility of setting a good example for everyone. Political rhetoric, in party circles, may be flattering but is dangerous when executed without responsibility.

Leadership virtues are furthermore exemplified not just by what is preached but by the care and dedication that is practised and the initiatives we observe. We evaluate leadership by the remarkable actions that can move the country forward.

The universal demand of the public is for a better standard of living and justice. This requires good governance and the capacity to weigh properly what should be kept and what should be cut. Most importantly, what is required of political leaders is to respect the public enough to make their own opinions.

This is something that is desperately needed in the current political situation, where fellow Ethiopians are branded as enemies. Similarly, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by the court of law should be extended to everyone. Labelling people as criminals is up to the court, not the media, the public and, most certainly, not government officials.

The public is in dire need of political leaders with creativity, emotional intelligence, insight and the willingness to work with other political parties - leaders that are ahead of the people but never out of sight of their interests, demonstrating self-control and respect for human dignity and justice. After all, when everything is said and done, leadership must lead to change that translates into visible benefits for society.

The public is demanding a response to the long-neglected public outcry, and setting a great leadership example for the ill-served nation is important. Fulfilling the public’s demand requires law-abiding, respectful, devoted and democratic leadership. These should be attributes we find with any leader, not features we marvel at because they come about extremely rarely.

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 18,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1055]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

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