Viewpoints On Leadership In Liberia

The Perspective

Atlanta, Georgia

March 20, 2002

Editor's Note: Mohamedu F. Jones, Esq., a Liberian lawyer, served as a guest speaker for the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Chapter of the Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Inc. on March 16, 2002. Find below the full text of Mr. Jones' speech in which he shared his "viewpoints on leadership in Liberia":

Mr. President-Elect, Mr. Vice President -Elect, Mr. National President and Mr. National Chairman of the Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Chapter Presidents of the Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Special Guests, Members of the Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, My Fellow Liberians, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a special honor to join you at the inauguration of the officers of this Association, to share some of my thoughts with you, and to install the officers. I thank you for inviting me, and I accept this duty with humility and gratitude.

I would like to share with you this evening some of my viewpoints on leadership. Liberia, at all levels, from the national level in Monrovia, to the village levels in all parts of our country, need women and men with characteristics and qualities of leadership that have heretofore not been demonstrated in the recorded history of our nation and its people. We need good leaders in all aspects of our national life, including in this Association. Let us always be mindful that, we, all of us Liberians, have not inherited Liberia from our ancestors, but rather that we are borrowing it from our children. We therefore have a sacred obligation to exercise due care during our stewardship.

In a letter sent in 1790, Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, America’s second President, wrote "great necessities call forth great leaders.” I trust that each of you is the great leader that has been called forth by the “great necessities” of this Association. And I hope and pray that the “great necessities” of Liberia today will also call forth great leaders in our national life during the coming years.

I offer for consideration the following thoughts on leadership, to you the officers and members of this Association as you begin your terms of office, and to all Liberians as we contemplate who should be the future leaders of our country:

First, Provide Leadership through Vision
"Vision" is essential to leaders who are concerned with good outcomes, and need to meet “great necessities.” Vision is the creating of focus. When leaders are results oriented, their vision will be compelling and directed. A leader’s vision must always be in the high interest of those whom he or she would serve through their leadership. In short, your vision must aspire and inspire, your vision must animate and stimulate; your vision must transform purpose into action. You, the officers of the Grand Gedeh Association must have a vision of where you want to see the Association go, always keeping in mind the supreme interest of the Association and its members. This is one area where national leaders of Liberia have failed historically, and continue to fail today. Liberian leaders have had no vision, and therefore our people suffer and perish. You must succeed in “creating focus” through your vision, if your Association will be of value to its members.

Second, Offer Leadership through Communication
Always be mindful that leadership is a transaction, a transaction of responsibilities in certain obligations as between leaders and followers. Communications in both directions, as from the followers to the leaders, and from the leaders to the followers, is the center of this transaction. You the leaders must communicate your vision and align your membership with your vision. In turn, you must always listen to what the members are communicating to you. If you listen to your members and share with them the vision you have, the Association will do well. Communication creates meaning for people. Getting the message across, in both directions, and at every level is an absolute key to good leadership. In the past and continuing today, Liberia’s national leaders fail to meet their fiduciary duty to responsibly communicate with the people. You must not fail your members in this respect.

Third, Build Leadership through Trust
Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for any organization or society to work. Trust requires accountability, transparency, predictability, and reliability. You, as the leaders of the Association must be reliable. You must be accountable. You must be transparent. You must be predictable. Trust is the glue that maintains organizational and societal integrity. For a leader to cultivate trust, that leader also must have a sense of what he or she believes and what he or she wants to do. A great leader is tirelessly persistent and "stays the course." Good leadership requires constancy. Living up to the trust of the members of this Association is your greatest responsibility. Above all, never violate the trust placed in you in your election as a leader of the Association. Liberia’s leaders have failed our national trust over the years. This failure has contributed, and continues to significantly contribute to the adverse state in which we find our country. You must attain and maintain the trust of your membership.

Fourth and Finally, Good Leadership is founded on “Wisdom"
Good leadership demands “wisdom.” Wisdom defines leaders and reflects itself in the way leaders relate to their followers, and carryout their duties and responsibilities. Wisdom, as a quality of a leader, is exemplified through action, personality and example. A leader who is wise also has “courage,” the courage to do right, even when it goes against traditions or norms, or even against the will of the majority.

The absence of wisdom in Liberia’s national leaders over the years, and continuing today, helped to create the circumstances we face presently as a nation and people. You must be wise in your leadership of the Association.

And thus Mr. President-elect and Officers-elect of this Chapter of the Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Inc., I call on you to bring vision to your duties, make communications a central part of your responsibilities, live up to the trust placed in you, and exercise wisdom in all your undertakings. May we also find these same qualities among aspirants as we enter the process of selecting future national leaders of Liberia.

Congratulations and may God guide you in your offices. Thank you very much.

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