VOICE OF LIBERTY AFRICA: Creating a Value Added Leadership in Africa – by Richard Chilee

More than a few people will agree with me that we cannot discuss leadership without examining the importance of value; therefore, the genesis of the treatise is to get an understanding of the two salient words “Value” and “Leadership.” A proper understanding of these concepts gives us a clear insight on the analysis.

Values are important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have major influence on a person’s motivated behaviour and attitudes and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.

 Leadership is described as the process of social influence in which a person or group of persons can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.

Leadership is the process of positively influencing people so that they will work willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of their collective goal. One of the key measures of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. Leadership gives a person, or group of people, the ability to provide effective guidance and direction to a team so that they can actualize the goal of the organization, a feat which is regarded as the strongest measure of leadership success.

A value added Leadership function consists of looking outside a defined area of responsibility to identify key opportunities and to build adequate project teams drawn from various relevant spheres. This involves communication and collaboration across functions, divisions, and industries whose activities and resources overlap. In a value added leadership, ranks, titles and official positions, are less important. Here, success is measured by having the knowledge, skills and sensitivities to mobilise people and motivate them to live and do their best.

One of the greatest mistakes of modern times is the mistake of taking a boss for a leader. E.M Kelly succinctly clarifies it “The difference between a leader and a boss; a boss says ‘Go!’ but a leader kindly says ‘Let’s go.’”


Below are the five simple, yet pragmatic, ways to effectively render a value added leadership in Africa;


Deliver effective results.

Leadership is about performance, not potential. I can’t imagine a value added leadership without proven results. Peter Drucker aptly puts it, “Leadership is defined by responsible results, not attributes.” Delivering effective results, based on transparent processes, are the basis upon which the leadership will be rated and valued. Without positive and tangible results, no value is added. The Delivery of effective results is one the ways to provide a value added leadership.

Encourage the ability to welcome systemic change.

The ability to welcome change is one of the major ways of providing a value adding leadership. The pace of change in the modern world is incredible and the new workplace requires everyone to lead and, or, coordinate change, but very few have successfully been able to do this effectively without internal conflicts. The leaders who have been able to welcome positive changes are also known as those who are at the forefront of success. Change is constant in life; anything that wishes to succeed and grow must be subjected to it.

Paul Kigame initiated series of reforms implemented to create a favourable environment for business. Rwanda was rated one of the top ten global reformers in the World Bank Doing Business Survey 2010, and second global reformer out of the 183 countries surveyed. Rwanda is also the 9th easiest place to start a business in the world and the 6th most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa according to the 2010 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness report. These reforms have been made possible by the government of Rwanda’s commitment to changing to a politically stable country with well functioning institutions, rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption based on the right conceptual analysis.

 A leadership that lives with the constant aversion to change will never function within the confines of relevant development; it will become stale and stagnant. And as we know, stagnancy stinks. To add value, leaders must always look closely at the system they are operating and take cognizance of how its objectives are structured, and make systemic changes where, when, necessary.


Be innovative. 

I cannot think of a better definition of an unsuccessful leadership than one that has refused to open itself to new ideas and technologies. Innovation enhances value in today’s world; it is one of the bedrocks of a proven leadership. In today’s world, if you are not innovative in your leadership position, you will become defective and will never be significant in your chosen field. There is no going forward without the ability to consistently looking for new and efficient ways to tackle ongoing problems.

 Through the use of innovative institutional reforms, the Rwandan government has been able to achieve unprecedented progress. Today, the Rwandan government is internationally recognised for its achievements in gender equality, reconstruction and reconciliation, universal primary education, access to healthcare and a continuous commitment to culturally based initiatives that deliver results for every Rwandan and the use of modern technology to improve the lives of every Rwandan.

A look at the leadership of Apple Inc gives us a clearer perspective into what defined leadership is about. Apple Inc became the greatest company of all time because of its ability to make radical innovations, it takes an innovative mind to remove the keypad of phones and replace it with a giant touch screen as found in modern phones, a move which made them become one of the most values adding company of all time.

 Innovation, built on ingenious ideas, is one of the marks of a value added leadership.

Be responsible.

A leader that continuously strives to create value cannot despise responsibility; it is a very useful leadership characteristic. To do this, the leader must know his obligations and all that is expected of him and be ready to take responsibility when things go wrong. Responsible leaders gain the commitment of their followers rather than rely on command. They create a desire in their followers rather than demand that they fulfil requirements. They inspire rather than require. Exceptional leaders offer directions at levels where others are willing to follow.

As a leader, you must always live with a heightened sense of responsibility for the performance of your team, whether it is successful or not. Rank does confer privilege or give power, it imposes responsibility. The higher the level, the more responsibility the position attracts.

Though facing a huge task in trying to stabilise the stumbling economy inherited by the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, present signs suggest that president Joyce Banda could become a new model for African leadership. Her responsible emphasis on shedding the strongman syndrome and getting down to business to help the poor is commendable. To prove her responsibleness, she cut down her own salary by 30 percent and put her predecessor’s $12million presidential jet and most of his fleet of 60 luxury cars up for sale. These were necessary measures if the leadership is to add value and redeem country from the economic quagmire which their past leadership placed them.

Being responsible as a leader strengthens your leadership powers over your subordinates, it helps you to be respected, followed, trusted and liked by them. Responsibility also gives you the powers to make valued and acceptable decisions.


 Get good people; it matters

Niccolo Machiavelli writes, “The first method of estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” This final point is something completely obvious; the people who constitute leadership, the actual people developing and enacting policies, are hugely important. They must possess the required skills and must be credible and competent enough to deal with the challenges associated with the leadership position.

There must a marriage between experience and performance in the people occupying leadership positions. They must acquire the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn from others, they must understand that no one has the monopoly of knowledge and must not pretend they do.

 Leadership that adds value is about quality people, if the people involved can’t consistently improve and add value to the lives of followers, the leadership has failed.

If Africa must rise to its full potentials and compete with other continents of the world, the first place to begin is to restructure and redefine their definitions of leadership by creating institutions that deals with the issues affecting organised leadership advancement.  


Written by Richard Chilee


I am a thinker, writer and an entrepreneur whose perspective on success is centred on the overall well being of an individual.  I love words and enjoy learning by having quality conversations. I am the author of The R.I.C.H theory, a book centred on the powers of Responsibility, Intelligence, Courage and Honesty. I am easily distracted by books. I tweet from @richardchilee.

VOICE OF LIBERTY AFRICA: Creating a Value Added Leadership in Africa – by Richard Chilee

Nigerian writer Richard Chilee stresses the need for value-added leadership on the African continent.