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Leadership vs Follower-ship

Leadership vs Follower-ship
August 17
11:39 2018
By: Neferety Marin, -

In all this talk about Political Leadership…the question must be asked. What is leadership? Does Belize have leaders?

The biggestconfusion in the conversation on leadership is the bifurcation of the profession into social agents of change and self-serving political bigots.

People often confuse followershipfor leadership. Followership is usually a group of elitist-minded individuals grabbing for power by consistent attempts to portray the image of heroic figures; to garner public approval and votes to win elections which translates to power, fat bank accounts and nepotism instead of true servant leadership.

Leadership, however, is very different; it is no mere power game among elitists, no garnering of votes. Leadership can be witnessed in various facets of society. The opportunity to lead calls out to us at work, at home, in our schools and our communities. Leadership is often much more difficult than followership because leadership challenges long held beliefs, encourages critical thinking and demands a new way of doing things. Leadership cannot be bought, the same way that followership can be bought with money or with political favours. Leadership must be real. Leadership is at the heart of both human development and political action. Leaders must be classified as leaders by their actual personal service to social change and human needs; not by media coverage, photo ops and election results.

The problem with Belize and true leadership is that the masses do not recognize the distinct difference between followership and leadership. We as a people fail to recognize that followership is a transactional form of what we mistake as leadership. The transactional leader (which is sadly all we have seen in Belize) is a politician that both wins his elections and governs with the same principle of exchanging one thing for another…money or small jobs for votes, contracts, concessions, subsidies for campaign finance. With this kind of leadership there is no room for progress, no room for economic growth.

The true servant leader is one of transformational leadership. This leader is in tune with societal needs, human necessities and potential growth of industries. The transformational leader is a moral agent of change, a believer in people, service and development. This kind of leadership, which as a nationwe have not completely recognized, can be found not just in the political arena but in every fibre of society; If only as a people could recognize the role of great leaders.

Somehow, our society has always seemed more fascinated with arrogant, money hungry, brute power holders. It is said that sinners usually outsell saints, and at least in Belize that has proven true. The thieves, the swindlers, and the corrupt, ruthless power holders have been much more attractive and realistic to our voters when compared to freedom fighters, activists, and change agents…we somehow seem naïve, not as powerful to the very people we serve and fight for.

Growing up in the age of political bigotry, I too have been guilty of assuming at one time that their actual power equalled their reputed power. As a studied politician, I came from the school of thought that political power was ultimate power. I am afraid that that school of thought was wrong and has led me to make grave mistakes as a young naïve political mind. It hurts me to witness our people entrapped in this sold school of thought because we are paying a very steep economic, social and political price. Being blinded by the misconception of leadership and followership is crippling and is stopping us fromturning away from the false power of politics to the pivotal role of true servant leadership.

Leaders do not have to be political leaders. In fact, most transformational leaders make massive changes in society before even entering the political arena, and some never enter at all. In Belize I can think of several transformational leaders that I highly respect for the selfless and brave contribution to our communities and people. In my youth, Mrs. Elda Gutierrez, my elementary school teacher was that transformational leader for the years of teaching she went over and beyond her teaching curriculum. She thought us the biggest lesson in leadership. She made us critical thinkers.She inspired us to read, to be curious and in so doing made positive changes in generations of young minds!

Mrs Shalue Butcher, who uses her own encounter with cancer to teach and inspire young people at every opportunity, while still running a very successful business… she is a transformational leader! I look at Ms Rebecca Stirmwho valiantly followed her dreams through a path not yet widely known or recognized. Yet she put Belize in the International spotlight for fashion design. She is an inspirational, transformational leaderwho brings hope and creativity to our youth while almost singlehandedly opening possibilities for a whole new industry.

Caleb Orozco, who against all odds is still fighting against victimization, stigma and bullying of LGBT citizens. He is also a transformational leader and inspires us to stand up for our own beliefs.

Belize urgently needs to distinguish leaders from mere power-holders. When we start recognizing these differences and we start empowering true leaders to demonstrate true moral leadership,I believe that we willstart making better choices at the polls which will enable our economic and social development to soar.

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