The problem of leadership, in most African countries, is that of perception: the inability to distinguish between leadership and authority granted by power

Africa’s problem of leadership is that of perception and the inability to distinguish between leadership and authority granted by position, that’s, positional authority that comes from power. The common attitude by many people in power in Africa and hence cause of crisis in leadership, is to confuse authority for[with] leadership.

Most people in positions of power and authority aren’t necessarily leaders. They are often in such positions by either use of force and usurpation of power, or by way of of manipulated and staged [s]elections or appointments by a higher power [authority], to whom they are beholden.

The process for selection [appointment] to such positions of power and authority is more about the ability to serve the interests of the higher power that selects [appoints] them to such positions; and less about, if at all, demonstrable leadership abilities [credentials] of such individuals.

Such people in positions of power and authority simply have authority granted by their positions but lack any or have zero leadership abilities and/or skills. They are more the right-hand managers – institutional police – for the higher power than the leaders they falsely claim to be.

Their priority is catering to the interests and whims of the higher power that places them into such positions, and work to maintain that order. Nothing wrong with that, especially in a patronage system in which favouritism, nepotism, “groupism” and “cliqueism” – based mainly on shared historical ties like coming from the same region, hence, regionalism and of course, relationship ties – group-think, are the criteria.

This explains why there’s so much abuse of power and authority by people in positions of power and authority. They aren’t leaders but [institutional] process and execution managers – and institutional police who, for the most part, lack basic organisational management skills but simply whose role is to execute orders from above, that is, the powerful authority that places them in such positions. To say that they, at least most of them, are incompetent is not to exaggerate!

But they hide their incompetence behind the veil of their borrowed power and authority and the fact that they are only responsible or accountable to a single power source and for that reason, they know how to manipulate and appease that power’s emotions to maintain their positions. Clever strategy!

Leadership is not “positional“; leadership has and knows no boundaries. It’s not selective, neither does or should it discriminate or favour one group interests against another group interests. One’s position, [of] power and authority is in no way proof of one’s leadership abilities and skills. If anything, and depending largely on the way power and authority is used, it could very well be a clear indication of lack of leadership abilities and skills.

Leadership is not coercive, it’s consensual, cooperative and seeks to bring everyone on board. It does not only encourage but cannot succeed without, preferably, voluntary collective participation in all aspects necessary for it to succeed such as collective participation in the decision-making process.