Solving leadership challenges in africa in philip kotler’s leadership phenomenon


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Solving leadership challenges in africa in philip kotler’s leadership phenomenon

  1. 1. SOLVING LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES IN AFRICA: A REFLECTION FROM PHILIP KOTLER’S LEADERSHIP PHENOMENON. 1 UchennaNwankwo, 2Udochukwu Ogbaji and 3Dr. (Mrs) Rose Nwankwo 1 National Salaries and Wages Commission, Abuja, Nigeria. 2&3 Department of Public Administration, Federal Polytechnic, Oko Anambra State Nigeria Email: udojoel77@yahoo.caAbstractAfrican leadership and development challenges are as complex as they are multi- faceted. Theirresolution ultimately depends on the capacity of people to understand what is happeningaround them, both internally and externally. They must possess enhanced ability to be able totake appropriate steps and cope with a variety of problems surrounding them. The millenniumbegan with an optimistic mood, which even extended to the adoption of ambitious goals forAfrica’s development. Fuelling the optimism was heady economic growth and development,driven forward by democracy and democratization and the endorsed Millennium Declarationthat marked the culmination of decades of efforts by the United Nations. Ten years later, thisoptimism to address root causes of poverty, ignorance, diseases, environmental degradationand other chronic ‘socio-political and economic problems’ suffers stagnation and despair. Thefailure of the leadership class has continually become a stormy threat to this perceivedoptimism in Africa. At a time of this lowering expectation, it is important not to succumb tofatalism. It seems so obvious that it is worth reconsidering solving the leadership challenges inAfrica, drawing from Philip Kotler’s leadership phenomenon. This paper argue that leaders donot need charisma to be effective; rather they are friendly, approachable, and caring; pursuingpeople oriented goods as well as run open- door policies. This paper adopts content analysis,personal opinions and observations, commentaries and editorials on the concept of leadership.This paper derives reflection from Philip Kotler’s views on leadership and situates it with theleadership question in Africa. Also, this paper carries out an unsentimental analysis to revealthe nature and challenges of leadership in Africa as well as proffering practical approaches tosolving leadership challenges in Africa, in order to elevate the optimism and enhance the pathto development by Africans for Africans. 1
  2. 2. IntroductionIn the dawn of the 21st century, the emerging African paradigm reflects a need for democraticcapacity building – one that invites diverse communities into a participatory process withleadership. The millennium began with an optimistic mood, which even extended to theadoption of ambitious goals for Africa’s development. Fuelling the optimism was headyeconomic growth and development, driven forward by democracy and democratization and theendorsed Millennium Declaration that marked the culmination of decades of efforts by theUnited Nations. Ten years later, this optimism to address root causes of poverty, ignorance,diseases, environmental degradation and other chronic ‘socio-political and economic problems’suffers stagnation and despair. The failure of the leadership class has continually become astormy threat to this perceived optimism in Africa.Going by Philip Kotler’s understanding of leadership, if management is defined as gettingthings done through others, then leadership should be defined as the social and informal sourcesof influence that you use to inspire action taken by others. It means mobilizing others to want tostruggle toward a common goal. Great leaders help build an organization’s human capital, andthen motivate individuals to take concerted action. Leadership also includes an understanding ofwhen, where, and how to use more formal sources of authority and power, such as position orownership. Increasingly, we live in a world where good management requires good leaders andleadership. While these views about the importance of leadership are not new, competitionamong employers and countries for the best and brightest, increased labour mobility, and hyper-competition puts pressure on organization to invest in present and future leadership capabilities.This paper adopts content analysis, personal opinions and observations, commentaries andeditorials on the concept of leadership. This paper derives reflection from Philip Kotler’s viewson leadership and situates it with the leadership question in Africa. Also, this paper carries outanalysis to reveal the nature and challenges of leadership in Africa as well as approaches tosolving leadership challenges in Africa, in order to elevate the optimism. 2
  3. 3. Philip Kotler’s Leadership PhenomenonPhillip Kotler, known as “the father of Modern Marketing and a leading personality in modernmanagement, in his book “Marketing Insights from A TO Z, 80 Concepts Every Manager Needsto know”, reiterated the importance of quality leadership. According to Kotler (2003): “all managers should be leaders, but most are administrators. If you are spending most of your time on budget, organisation’s charts, costs, compliance, and detail, you are an administrator. To become a leader, you need to spend more time with people, scanning opportunities, developing a vision, and setting goals. A leader is the architect of the organisation’s goals and vision. Leaders need to be teachers and teach others to be leaders”.Bad managers, in contrast, rely on command and control to get their ideas carried out. A business leader’s job is “to make meaning”. The leader needs vision. Vision is “the art of seeing things invisible”. Vision is the ability to conjure up a picture of great opportunities to inspire the employees and the organisation’s stakeholders. The vision must be burn in the leader’s breast if it is to ignite a passion in others. The leader must be able to gain respect for his vision and as a person. The followers must believe that the leader is serving them, that he or she is a servant-leader (Kotler, 2003). In Reinventing Leadership: Strategies to Empower the Organization (2005), Bennis and Townsend discuss their concise leadership plan for the 21st century that reinvented leadership strategies and aims to empower both employees and organization. They focus on: moving away from conventional standards of business practice, building trust, finding a mentor to encourage reflective backtalk and rewarding accomplishment. No wonder, Napoleon said that “A leader is a dealer in hope”. Robert Townsend observed that “true leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders” and that “A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs”. Leadership works best and extra-ordinarily when there are committed followers, who stir up the vision of their leader. 3
  4. 4. Kotler stressed that, some think that great leaders need charisma, and point to people orpersonalities such as Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill. They are forgetting HarryTruman; the thirty-third President of the United States, whose one of his important decisionswas the use of the atomic bombs in Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945). In thelight of the above instance, leaders do not need charisma to be effective. Charismatic leaders areoften suspects. Some of the greatest business and organizational leaders went about their workin a quiet way touching the minds and hearts of their staff. They are friendly, approachable, andcaring; pursuing people oriented goods as well as run an open- door policies (Kotler, ibid).They act as role models. Remember Charles R. Walgreen III, who transformed WalgreenCompany into a company whose cumulative stock returns since 1975 have beaten the generalstock market by over 15 times. Yet, he never takes credit, pointing instead to his great team, andhe pins his success on being “lucky”. Katherine Graham of the Washington Post was anotherquiet leader who built a great newspaper into a greater one. This is in line with what ChinesePhilosopher Lao-tzu said “a leader is best when people barely know that he exists”. In the wordsof Harry Truman, “a man cannot have character unless he lives with a fundamental system of morals that creates character”Leadership is character –oriented and character-motivated. The best leaders want to surroundthemselves with talented characters. They revel in finding these categories of professionals whoare smart than they are. The main task of a leader is to build a team of experts who are alignedwith each other the primary goals of the company or organization.It is important to note that good leaders do not want yes-men. A good leader should be able tofire those who agree with him, especially at all times. Good leaders want the honest of theircolleagues. They encourage constructive debates and out-of-the-box thinking. They invite big-picture ideas. They tolerate honest mistakes. And when they make the final decision, theyinspire and mobilize their people to do their best. And the best leaders do not spend too muchtime poring over numbers. They get out and meet the troops. They devote a lot of time to majorplayers. 4
  5. 5. At the same time, the job of a leader is daunting. It is not all about playing golf with otherbusiness/organizational leaders. One CEO said “I am only comfortable when I amuncomfortable”. When Dick Ferris, former CEO of United Air Lines, was asked how he sleepsin tumultuous time, he said, “Just like a baby—I wake up every two hours and cry.”Yet the leader must be more optimist than a pessimist. He must see the cup as half full ratherthan half empty. He is mostly tested when the times are tough. It is a rough sea that can make agreat captain. And Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, defined a leader as…a man who can persuade people to do what they do not want to do, or do what they are too lazy to do and like it (Truman, H.,1884 -1972).Warren Bennis, widely known as a modern leadership guru, identified six personal qualities of agood leader- integrity, dedication, magnanimity, humility, openness and creativity. Bennissummarized by defining leadership as, the capacity to translate vision into reality. In line withWarren Bennis’ categorization, David Hakala, adds fairness, assertiveness and display of asense of humour as other personal qualities of a good leader (Hakala, 2008).To this end, what insight can we generate from the above reflection? What are the leadershipchallenges in Africa? It therefore, behooves on the writers to attempt a review of the questionsstated above so as to make good conclusion on the subject matter.The Leadership Challenges in AfricaGardner (1990) defines leadership as ‘the process of persuasion or example by which anindividual induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader andhis or her followers’. In the African context, it was often the case that post-independencenational leadership was of the so-called ‘big man’ style. In this form of leadership, decisionmaking over the distribution of resources, power, and authority was (and still is to a limitedextent) exclusively controlled by the president. To the extent that objectives were participatory,state leaders mainly involved a tightly controlled group of political elites (Warfield andSentongo, 2011). 5
  6. 6. Twelve years into the millennium, the optimism to address root causes of poverty, ignorance,diseases, environmental degradation and other chronic ‘socio-political and economic problems’suffers stagnation and despair. A lot have been elucidated above on what leadership is meant torepresent. However, in the context of the theme of this work, the reality is far from theprinciples and thoughts enumerated above. Leadership and socio-political and economicempowerment is the key to Africas future. Those are the words of Ecologist Wangari Maathai.Expressing her view in her book ‘Challenges for Africa and the problems facing the AfricanContinent’, Maathai (2009) says that the real challenge for Africa is working with the leadershipof the countries. "We live on a continent that is extremely rich, highly fertile and with a lot of resources and minerals. There is absolutely no reason why we are poor except we have been having very poor leadership for so many decades".Commenting from the above assertion, African leaders should really help Africa to get out ofthis cycle of violence and poverty and refuse to be exploited by the rest of the world. Kagame(2010) observed that: poor political leadership was to blame for Africa’s share of conflicts and regional instability, which could only end if the region embraced good leadership and proper electoral laws that encourage political inclusiveness. Just as a failed state is a result of failed leadership, it takes a different type of leadership to build a nation.It is a truism that, the principle and practice of good leadership is not yet developed in mostAfrican states, Nigeria inclusive. What ineffective leadership has caused Africa isimmeasurable. Franz Fanon in his book The Wretched of the Earth published in 1961eloquently described the character of the class that inherited power from the colonialists.According to Fanon (1961): It is "a sort of little greedy caste, avid and voracious, with the mind of a huckster, only too glad to accept the dividends that the former colonial powers hands out. 6
  7. 7. This get-rich-quick middle class shows itself incapable of great ideas or of inventiveness. It remembers what it has read in European textbooks and imperceptibly it becomes not even the replica of Europe, but its caricature." This class, said Fanon prophetically, is not capable of building industries "it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type. Its innermost vocation seems to be to keep in the running and to be part of the racket. The psychology of the national bourgeoisie is that of a businessman, not that of a captain of industry."The description remains accurate for todays elite who have grown through civilian politics,military governments, business and the civil service.Certainly, African nations suffer from poor administrative, inadequate judicial infrastructureand insufficient numbers of expertise. But these short-comings cannot explain the abuse andmisuse of state power in the continent. The fact remains that most African rulers have ignoredthe provisions of the constitution and laid-down administrative procedures. Leaders act selfishlywith total disregard to existing rules and laid-down procedures.The failure of democracy and economic development in Africa are due to a large part to thescramble for wealth by predator elites, who have dominated African politics sinceindependence. They see the state as a source of personal wealth accumulation, using state fundto finance ungodly political interests which are anti-civil society. Many of the apparentlysenseless civil conflicts and wars in Africa, including in Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda and Darfurregion of Sudan, are due to the battle for the spoils of power. The competition for nationalresources leads to conflict and repression, hence, the ruling classes, including people in andoutside government (cartel/cronies), are motivated by objectives that have little to do with thecommon good.African’s tragedy is not that its nations are poor. No, the continent is not poor. The tragedy isthat it lacks ruling classes that are committed to overcoming the state of poverty. Mostly it is allabout politicking, rarely about human-oriented policies and programmes. Political actors arethose who compete among themselves for power, not actors who use power to confront theircountry’s problems. In the Nigerian national assembly, those who address themselves ashonourable members engage in both verbal and physical assault; all in the name of politics, 7
  8. 8. appropriation of interest and above all consolidation of interest for second/third term of office.This has jeopardized so many developing democracies in Africa. It’s a pity. No wonder, InPresident Obama maiden speech in sub-Saharan Africa he stressed that “good governance is thechange that can unlock Africas potential and emphasized that it is the ingredient which hasbeen missing in many places for far too long”. Obviously, it is quality leadership that canperpetuate good governance in Africa.In Africa where only 6 countries are in the upper middle-income category, at least 38 countriesare classified as low-income (ADB, 2003). In World Bank terms, Africa is today caught in alow-equilibrium development trap, just as Asia was in the 1960s. With the exception ofBotswana which has emerged ‘from rags to riches’, the lot of countries and peoples in Africaremains a precarious existence.Other paradoxes of Africa’s development experience are declining savings and investment percapita since 1970. In the light of the above, the GDP is lowered and investment rates arecomparatively lower to other regions of the World and productivity on investments isdiametrically disappointing. Africa’s share of world trade has also plummeted to less than 3 percent, resulting in high and persistent balance of payment and inflation problems crippling andeffectively worsening prospects of a quick economic recovery. Apparently, this dramaticallyaffects the so-called ‘Foreign Reserve’.Moreover, another effect of bad leadership in Africa is that economic and social policiespursued by most African countries are counter-productive and inimical to rapid economicgrowth. As a result, the state and its technocrats substitute and prevent the emergence of anentrepreneurial class. This has reduced the state to an avenue for capital accumulation for thosewith access to state resources through ‘blind forces’ which culminated in a ‘deliberate policy ofspoils and plundering of public coffers by the ruling elite’. For two or more decades, Africangovernments of both leftist and rightist ideological orientations assumed greater control overeconomic affairs, often advancing policies that facilitated governmental corruption. In effect,this aside crippling African societies; it is bleeding their potential. It tends to freeze technicalinitiatives, which Kindleberger terms technological ‘fossilization’ (Kindleberger, 1958:301). 8
  9. 9. It is informative to realize that there are certain domestic elements, which through non-economic, have influenced Africa’s harsh economic realities. Such factors as incessant politicalinstability, authoritarian regimes and unprogressive attitudes have impacted negatively oneconomic growth (Ayittey, 1992). Fragile political institutions created by poor leadership createinsurmountable barriers to economic prosperity, especially in welfare states. Myriad militarycoups and dictatorships partly account for Nigeria’s, Ghana’s and Niger’s economic crisis;while civil war in Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Angola,Somalia, Liberia and Darfur have paralyzed growth of their economies. In countries withauthoritarian regimes like Malawi under Banda, Nigeria, in the days of Abacha Junta, andZimbabwe still under President Mobutu and many other examples, long term economicobjectives and strategies were replaced by myopic, short-term policies like large public sectordeficits to support politically determined projects. This scenario reflects conflicts betweeneconomic and political rationality, which according to Schatz (1988), enshrines governmentschemes providing opportunities for graft, and political patronage.Dishearteningly, African states are victims of their own specialization in primary production,which is subject to ever declining terms of trade. This is why countries like Nigeria bases itsannual budget estimate on the wavering crude oil price in the international market. Is it notbecause of ineptitude on the part our leaders? Yes, it is. Poor leadership has brought about grossinefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the domestic production capacity, thus, the local refineriesare in comatose situation, which would have promoted increased production if it were in thedeveloped economies. This supports why African producers of primary products can not havecontrol over production.With the failures highlighted above, African leaders to a large extent are not good students ofPhillip Kotler’s view about leadership. According to Professor Kotler (ibid): “all managers should be leaders, but most are administrators. If you are spending most of your time on budget, organisation’s charts, costs, compliance, and detail, you are an administrator. To become a leader, you need to spend more time with people, scanning opportunities, developing a vision, and setting goals”. 9
  10. 10. A leader is the architect of the organisation’s goals and vision. In situating this conception withthe leadership style of most African leaders, one could easily note a wide gap. There existorganizational gap, leaders are not accessible, and thus they spend much of their tenure pursuingselfish business trips abroad. Because of non-performance, African leaders surround themselveswith aids, in form of security men in order to ward-off the people from them.Solving the Leadership Challenges in AfricaIf the 21st century African leader (and here we flatten the definition to include a range ofleadership at different levels in society) is to stimulate democratic capacity building incommunities, this individual must first learn the process of managing or mitigating conflict tobuild a community’s capacity for sustainable peace and development (Warfield and Sentongo,2011). Burns (1978) recognized that leadership emerges in response to conflict. Indeed, onecould argue that conflict gives depth and perspective to leadership. In the African context, thisrefers not only to the typically understood intra-state conflict, but to the proliferation of conflicttaking place at the local level as well. Conflict is a catalytic agent for transformation, andconflict mitigation is the tool that negotiates this transformation.Lederach (1997 as cited in Warfield and Sentongo, 2011) provides a model of how one canexamine leadership at various levels, ranging from top level to leadership at the grassroots.Lederach envisions three levels of leadership. At the top (Level 1) are the regime elites,politicians, religious leaders, and the military who engage in highly visible negotiations at thestate level. At Level 2, Lederach locates intellectuals, ethnic leadership, regional or localreligious leaders, and heads of recognized non- governmental organizations (NGOs). These areindividuals who are most likely to be engaged in negotiations with Level 1 over theimplementation of national policy. Such was the case in Rwanda where individuals who headedup humanitarian organizations were involved with Level 1 in the implementation of gacaca andingando programmes, as part of the national reconciliation programme. Level 3 is where thegrassroots leadership resides. Here we find indigenous community leaders of one sort or anotherwho tend to be engaged in the struggle for bringing more resources to their local population. Ofcourse, these are not rigid divisions. In some post-conflict developing countries there is mobilityas some Level 2 actors will be pulled into Level 1 and Level 3 actors can move to Level 2. 10
  11. 11. In practical terms therefore, one can understand that, the enormity and complexity of, thechallenges confronting the continent demands a multifaceted approach in dealing with them butthe question is where exactly do we start from? Faced with all these daunting challenges;illiteracy, poverty, instability, where do we take off? The foundation of all the economicpolicies, poverty reduction strategies and development goals, including the implementation ofthe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), rest on effective leadership which engenders goodgovernance. Ensuring environmental sustainability requires effective and efficient leadership.The key to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, rest on quality leadership, the catalyst toachieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women isgood leadership. The vital weapon to promoting peace and security as well as post-warreconstruction in Africa is quality leadership. The whole clamour for an electoral reform anddemocratic consolidation in Africa takes its root in good leadership.Our governments and leaders must recognize that, faced with the same economic constraintsand economic marginalization in the global economic system, countries like China, India,Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea just to mention a few have spurred their economies toappreciable height even though there is still some room for improvement. Today the progress ofthese countries has shifted the development paradigm and the hegemony in the global economicsystem has taken a twist. Little did the world know that these countries could emerge economicgiants, flex their economic muscles and rival the dominance of the West in the global economicsystem. Africas socio-economic fortunes have hope but this hope will only experience resultand witness development on the principles of good leadership.Some African living legends, like Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan have high hopes in a newAfrica. According to Nelson Mandela: “I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses turning to become a glory to Africa”.In the view of solving the disheartening Africa’s problems, Kofi Annan advocates that: “we need to continue fighting corruption, we need to build strong institutions and I think we need to eliminate red-tape and bureaucracy; we must develop strong institutions that 11
  12. 12. would engender good governance and democratic consolidation”.In a related development, African leaders do not need to acquire charisma before they couldtransform the continent and harness the great potential. Rather they could make importantdecisions and match it with actions. They are to be friendly, approachable, and caring; poised topursue people oriented goods. The kinds of leaders that will transform Africa are those that willact as role models; those who will always go for success. They are to make both constructiveand progressive debate in the comity of nations. In the face of international community, theyshould be fearless and doggedly maintaining unwavering position, especially as it concernseconomic and political affairs of the continent, when the ‘super-powers’ begin with their powerpolitics and diplomacy. Optimism should be their greatest value, as Kotler posits.Regrettably, being the leading area for diamonds, cobalt, uranium, and many other rareminerals, the continent is still wallowing in the dungeons of poverty and plague ofunderdevelopment. For instance, Nigeria with all the oil deposits has not inched up significantlyin its developmental goals and objectives. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of therichest countries in diamonds, gold, timber, cobalt, yet it has little to show for them. Talk of thegold mines of Ghana, Oil fields of Sudan, Angola but yet the continent has failed to makesignificant impact in improving the living standards of its people. Despite the Continentsseemingly abundant resources, ineffective leadership has raided the continent of its destiny.In conclusion therefore, position captures that transformative leadership need to be equated withwhat Greenstone and Peterson (1973 as cited in Warfield and Sentongo, 2011) call orthodoxliberalism: essentially, a broad redistribution of goods and services by the state. As we havenoted in one way or another, transformative leadership has to balance constitutional democracy(often under pressure from international actors) with utilitarian democracy where needs andinterests of grassroots leadership are stimulated. In this sense, transformative (political)leadership can be better described as pragmatic liberalism. Or putting it another way, pragmaticrealism where procedural democracy (in this instance, the distribution of power) is occasionallysacrificed to produce the ‘greater good’. In Nigeria today, the President Goodluck Jonathan’stransformational mandate and fresh-air phenomenon would only answer to good and qualityleadership which can only build Nigeria’s capacity for sustainable peace and development. 12
  13. 13. ReferencesAfrica Development Bank. 2003 Review.Annan, K. ‘Realization of Africa’s Unity and Development’ CNN Interview: June 2010Ayittey, G. (1992). Africa Betrayed. New York NY: St. Martin’s PressBurns, J.M (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row.Fanon, F. (1967). The Wretched of the Earth. England: Penguin Books Ltd.Gardner, J. W. (1990). On Leadership. New York: Free Press.Hakala, D. (2008). ‘Ten Top Leadership Qualities HR World March 19. Accessed March, 22 nd 2010Kagame, P. ‘Poor Leadership in Africa’. Afrique en Ligne. Accessed May 2010Kindleberger, C.P. (1958). Economic Development: New York, NY: The Free PressKotler, P. (2003). Marketing Insights from A to Z 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Kotler, P. (2003). Marketing Insights from A to Z 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Kriesberg, L. (2003). Constructive Conflict Resolution: From Escalation to Resolution. Oxford: Rowman and LittlefieldKuffor, J. ‘Kuffor blames Africa’s Underdevelopment on Bad Leadership’. APA Africa. June 8 2010.Lederach, J. P. (1997). Building Peace: Sustainable reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, D.C: United States Institute of Peace Press.Lederach, J. P. (1995). Preparing for peace: Conflict transformation across cultures. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Maathai, W. (2009). Challenges for Africa and the problems facing the African Continent. Kenya-Nairobi: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.Obadina, T. ‘Africa’s Crisis of Governance Africa Economic Analysis May 2010See Cozay Forum ‘Bad Leadership and Corruption in Developing Countries Social and Cultural Issues’. 13
  14. 14. Truman, H. (1884- 1972) ‘Harry Truman’s Quotes’ Accessed from June 2010Warfield, W and Sentongo, A. (2011). Political Leadership and Conflict Resolution: An African Example in African Journal Online., B. Bennis Leadership Qualities: July 2010 14