• The Independence Arch
• The Independence Arch

Call to lead the nation to freedom

At 66, the Ghana cedi has tumbled, inflation has hit half a century and a Domestic Debt Exchange Programme has been completed.

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The nation is begging its foreign creditors for debt forgiveness as we await an IMF bailout.

Many corporate leaders have learnt to navigate one crisis after another with a keen focus on their bottom-line while the village is deteriorating.

In an attempt to save their organisations many leaders might have missed the harsh realities communities are grappling with.

We are also told “dzi wo fie asem”… focus on your own issues.

Hence many leaders tend to focus on their own organisational goals leaving the development of the community to whosoever wills to do so.

Beyond macroeconomics, our communities are failing on almost every metric that indicates what a good society looks like.

Corporate leaders will have a much deeper crisis to contend with if they do not save our communities from deterioration and decay as soon as possible.

It’s time for leadership, However, this is not a call to serve your clients better even though that's a worthwhile objective.

Far from that.

It’s a call to corporate leaders to embrace the contribution they can make to uplift the communities they operate in.

If you are reading this article, then you are a leader and you can make a contribution. 
 

Leadership

Leading your team or organisation well is great but it's insufficient to reverse the deteriorating conditions we are experiencing today.

And in times like these, leaders may feel the need to double down and focus more inward, pay greater attention to their organisation and protect margins and market share.

The idea is not entirely wrong but it is sub-optimal in any situation.

Given what we know now, leaders need to adapt and begin to lead in new ways beyond market share and profits.

Leading in the community is not CSR.

It’s core to every business.

 Thriving communities provide the foundation for corporate success.

  It’s long overdue for leaders to extend their leadership beyond their organisations and lead in the community.

 If you are a leader consumed by the mission of your organisation, there is no better time to make a difference in the lives of customers and communities than this. 

Building initiatives

Leaders have to develop both small and big, bold initiatives that resolve deep-seated societal challenges, in addition to selling goods and services.

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If the community disintegrates, organisations will cease to exist. Hence building communities is an urgent task for corporate survival.

The enormity and complexity of the challenges we face require that many leaders begin to lead and those who are already leading double up and lead at scale.

My message to every business executive is: Begin to lead at scale – extend your leadership beyond the organisation and lead your organisation to lead in the community.  

Leading highly successful organisations while enabling communities and citizens to thrive is the work of  modern-day leaders in our communities.

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The modern leader is the new village chief.

Thankfully, we don’t need to have only one village chief.

The role is open to many leaders.

I believe all the village chiefs working together offers the best hope for building a great society in our lifetime.

This is the time leaders need to mobilise all the resources available and use them to serve their stakeholders in the best way possible.

I offer two examples of leaders who have taken this bold step of embracing their roles in society, espoused very bold ambitions, and are designing their organisations to address critical challenges in the community in a very sustainable way.

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Patrick Awuah, Founder and President of Ashesi University, could have chosen to superintend over a thriving university operating from the hills of Berekuso serving about 1,000 students.

He embraced his leadership role in the village and has been on a mission to bring “ethical leadership and entrepreneurial education” to millions of students across the continent through the Education Collaborative. Currently, there are over 260 institutions involved in the network.

This enables Ashesi University to reach nearly 150,000 students with tailored initiatives and programmes.

Patrick believes that “every leader must have great ambitions for their society”.

Many leaders and organisations can get involved in education in a significant sustainable way that reverses the worsening conditions in education.

 Gregory Rockson, Co-founder and CEO of Mpharma, is “building an Africa that’s in good health”.

He has been on this mission for about a decade now and “will not cease until every individual on the continent has access to safe and affordable medicines”.

Through this big, bold mission, Mpharma is working with community Pharmacies and Partners including government agencies to deliver quality affordable healthcare and medicines to patients in unique ways.

Mpharma’s innovative delivery models have helped 400,000 patients make savings on high quality medicines.

Again, in addition to donations many leaders and organisations can get involved in healthcare in a sustainable way that enables us to achieve a healthier society. 

Big missions

These may sound lofty but leaders must first be bold to articulate big missions as they embrace their role in the community.

Leaders lead on the big problems in society.

“All of us who are privileged enough to be healthy, to be alive, to have education, and to have influence, our role is not to do small things and to solve small problems,” Fred Swaniker of the Africa Leadership Group says.

Today, it’s not enough to sell products and services to the community and grow revenues by 30 per cent annually.

Selling products and services is a small problem if, in addition to selling, leaders do not design interventions that support the community to thrive in a meaningful way.

The urgent task for all leaders is to embrace bold, big missions and to save our communities from deterioration.

The organisation becomes the vehicle through which this leadership ambition is fulfilled.  

Above all leaders must lead in the community with values.

Every society is based on values.

Every organisation espouses corporate values like integrity, excellence, service, leadership, respect, accountability, trust, honesty, loyalty, community, etc., which are the foundations of a thriving society.

There is no Ghanaian organisation that does not have one of these.

Corporate leaders must lead their entire organisations to embrace these values and extend them to the communities they operate in.

This is the surest way of building a humane society in our lifetime. Let's renew our commitment to this dear nation of ours as we celebrate our independence and lead this nation to true freedom and justice. God bless our homeland Ghana.

The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant
Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory

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