Dr. Stanley Asasu Anenyemele hails from Kpandai-Balai in the Northern Region of Ghana. He is a final year medical student of Jianghan University in Wuhan, P.R. China, and currently pursuing his final year internship at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Accra.
He attended and successfully graduated from Tamale Senior High School in the Northern Regional Capital of Ghana, between 2009 and 2013. During the final year of his high school education, at the tender age of sixteen, he served in the leadership role as a head boy of his school, which at the time had a student population of about three thousand.
During this relatively brief period, he successfully championed the course of transformational leadership in the academic pursuits of his school, by instituting and pursuing various interventions including restoring student discipline, and various academic competition and award schemes, which ultimately culminated in the attainment of greater heights of academic excellence.
But this was by no means his first experience as a student leader. Indeed, all through his academic life until now, he has served in various leadership capacities, notable among which is the role of head boy.
It is little wonder then, that less than two years after graduating from high school, in his unrelenting quest to impact his society through service in leadership, he began working on, and finally debuted his first book entitled Contemporary Leadership: Best Practices, Threshold To Excellence in December 2018 after almost four years of meticulously working on it; a book in which he sought to inform, inspire and equip people from all walks of life to get involved in the transformation of their societies through service in leadership, by combining a host of experiences he garnered during his roles as a student leader, learning and mentorship, and the legacies of many successful leaders in the course of history.
A year later, he published his second book—an anthology of poems, Pot of Poems; a book in which he harnesses the power of poetry to teach, inform and entertain his audience on a litany of varying subjects. That same year, his maiden book won him two awards at the prestigious Elevare Author Awards in the ‘Best Inspirational Book’ and ‘Favorite Author’ categories.
He is presently working on his third book, a memoir in which he details his journey to and through medical school abroad; his challenges, failures and successes, with the view to inspiring others to reach for their dreams.
Tonight, the Readers Hub is pleased to have him as our guest to take us through the thematic concern held supra. Among others; we shall also find out from our guest whether leadership is an inherent trait or people could be taught to become good leaders.
The Readers Hub Social Media Monk promises to be interactive, insightful and intellectually engaging as usual.
Ladies and gentlemen, take a seat; sit still and enjoy the session!!!!
It is yet another beautiful Friday evening as the Readers Hub brings to you another interactive and insightful segment on its Social Media Monk session. My name is Bassing Kamal, sitting in for your regular host Dr Hakeem Tahiru Balubie (Dr. Tilapia). I’m most grateful for the latitude granted me to moderate this session.
Your participation is highly anticipated!!!
Bassing: Dr Stanley Asasu, please you are welcome to the Readers Hub Social Media Monk session.
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Thank you so much, Mr Kamal. I’m honoured to be here.
Bassing: The Readers Hub is most grateful for having you this evening.
Dr. Stanley Asasu: The pleasure is all mine, Sir.
Bassing: First of all, we will like to find out from you the difference between leadership and management?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Leadership basically refers to the art and process of guiding, directing, controlling and influencing a particular group of people or society in the pursuit and realisation of the set goals, objectives, aspirations and dreams of the society for the common good of its members.
Management, on the other hand, includes the activities of setting the strategy of an organisation and coordinating the efforts of its employees to accomplish its objectives through the application of available resources, such as financial, natural, technological, and human resources.
Notice the emphasis of leadership on influencing people, while management lays emphasis on coordinating and controlling systems within an organisation or society. Thus, leaders ought to not necessarily hold a “position”, while a manager’s authority is typically conferred on them by virtue of their position.
Bassing: What are the traits and qualities of a good and effective leader?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Well, there’s a host of traits and qualities that people who are deemed to be, or to have been, exceptional leaders have exhibited that give or gave them a competitive edge, and better positioned them to excel in their capacities. Admittedly, some of these qualities can be innate or inborn; such qualities as charisma, creativity and self-confidence, whiles some others such as discipline, knowledgeability and technical know-how can be acquired through teaching, learning and personal experience. The following traits in my opinion, though not an exhaustive list, represent the core traits of effective leaders:
-an attitude of service
-wisdom and knowledgeability
Bassing: So, with this tall list yet it is not exhaustive? Is it the case that a good and an effective leader must/should demonstrate all these qualities?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Hahaha……You can say that again. Yes, there’s a lot more qualities that predispose people to excellence in leadership. As a matter of fact, one need not possess each and every one of them to be an effective leader; however, the more, the better.
Now, the fact that one may not necessarily have all these traits is the same reason why leaders ought to draw from the strengths of their team members—their strengths will then be amplified and their weaknesses complemented by others’ strengths.
Bassing: How are leadership traits and skills related to effective leadership?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Well, it goes without saying that, leadership traits are important in that they serve to position people to excel at their leadership roles. Take for instance, the quality of vision/foresight. Most visionary people who have been in leadership roles have invariably excelled.
I often make reference to Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s visionary leadership; the man foresaw the energy and transport needs of those of us having this discussion tonight when he constructed the Akosombo Dam, the Accra-Tema Motorway, and other major infrastructural projects that still serve us so well till this day, several decades after his demise. Thus, though we were a country of about 6 million people the time, those projects were constructed with capacities to serve our population of about 30 million today.
Leadership skills are equally important as they are the conduit through which leadership traits can find expression and be harnessed in the achievement of effective leadership. For instance, effective communication skills are required of a visionary leader, if they are to solicit the support and dedication of their followers in working towards a goal.
Bassing: Talking about leadership trait of vision/foresight, is it true to say this trait is lacking among our contemporary leaders?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: This is a table that I like to shake only occasionally and only under duress. But I suppose it’s true to some extent that some, maybe a vast majority, of our contemporary leaders need a re-fill of foresight
Bassing: What are the leadership styles, and which is the most effective leadership style especially when there are differences in demographics between the leader and the people, they are leading?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: There are quite a number of styles of leadership that have evolved in the course of history. One can choose to use a particular leadership style or another or a combination of some or all, depending on the situation and the preference of the leader in question.
For instance, one does not expect the commander of a firefighting team which is combating a raging fire in an obscure location containing goods worth millions of dollars to go about seeking opinions from the members of the team, instead of issuing out commands and directives; so also would it be bizarre for the CEO of a business firm not to do due consultations with experts in the research or advertising department of their firm before making decisions about their target groups in the marketplace.
Thus, it is quite obvious that there’s no “most effective leadership style” per se; rather, the effectiveness or otherwise of a particular style can only be appropriately assessed via the lens of the situation at hand. There are three well-established leadership styles:
-the Autocratic/Authoritarian/Dictatorial style
-Democratic/Participatory style, and
-Laissez Faire/Delegating style
Time may not permit me to zero in on each one of them. However, the salient point to note is that there are merits and demerits to each of them, and as Sir Winston Churchill once famously stated, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.
Also, given that the names are quite suggestive of what each entail, I suppose we can make some general inferences. A very recent, quick example might reinforce this idea I’m seeking to expound. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan(I was finishing my final exams in my university in Wuhan when the virus broke out, but that’s a story for another day ), I watched with great admiration, as the Chinese Communist Party(the Chinese government), within a matter of days(6 days to be specific), marshalled forces and resources to construct a 1000-bed capacity hospital in Wuhan to augment the existing hospital infrastructure that at this point was already overstretched with cases.
Before its completion, another 1,300-bed capacity hospital was started, completed, and ready for use in another 7 days. Thus, in less than two weeks, an additional over 2,000 beds of hospital space had been constructed. In addition, hundreds of teams of military personnel, doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals were sent in to assist in the containment efforts…and all these were at the word of the CCP.
There was no prior notice whatsoever of a lockdown in Wuhan before it was locked down on 23rdJanuary. But the entire city including its international airport, railways and subways, bus terminals, everything was shut tight in one day—23 rd January. Did all these help in their fight against COVID-19? You be the judge.
Let’s juxtapose this with our democratic Ghana, in which we only recently inaugurated our 100-bed capacity infectious disease centre, which by the way took months to complete, and whose construction began months after the outbreak in Ghana; where lockdowns in our two hotspots at the time—Accra and Kumasi, was announced 48 hours prior; where the head of our state first needed to send a bill granting him special powers to parliament for a parliamentary approval, and all this while the virus was spreading. Someone might say, “well, it’s unfair to compare China and Ghana”.
Well, let’s shift a little to the U.S then, where some citizens refuse to wear masks because they “have the right to not be coerced into doing so”; where there’s been failure to marshal much-needed medical supplies quickly, likely due to bureaucratic bottlenecks; the situation there right now speaks for itself.
Bassing: How do traditional leadership styles vary between African and Asian countries?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Well, I’ll speak first in general terms and from a historical perspective, then I’ll attempt to do a more modern and specific comparative analysis. Historically, there hasn’t been much difference between traditional leadership in African and Asian countries. This may be something interesting to look further into for those who may so wish, as it is postulated that much of Asia descended from Africa.
Traditionally, very similar to much of Africa, Asia has had monarchical rulership, with in China for instance, a history of several millennia of rule of dynasties. However, in more recent times, parts of Asia have drifted toward Communist rule—China and North Korea for instance, with other countries in the Indian Subcontinent now practicing Theocratic Democracy, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan being an example. Nonetheless, there are other countries such as South Korea that adhere to Democratic governance, and interesting ones like Japan and Thailand that still maintain both monarchy and Democracy. On the contrary, much of Africa practices Democracy or a semblance of it, with very few exemptions like the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly called Swaziland) which is an absolute monarchy.
Bassing: How are leadership styles different between the baby boomer generation and the millennial generation, and what effects are the differences in these leadership styles having in industry?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: In the former, leadership is normally geared towards the participatory, laissez faire and to some extent the authoritarian styles, as baby boomers tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchy and tradition and are also optimistic, driven and team-oriented. Leadership in millennials on the other hand often focuses on the participatory style; the authoritarian and laissez faire styles are less likely to succeed with them, as millennials typically prefer to work in a more relaxed environment than a hierarchical structure and are often more individually motivated and self-reliant.
As such, leaders ought to be wary of these important disparities and take steps to address the respective groups within their societies/organisations, as these differences are a frequent source of conflicts and misunderstandings.
Bassing: How has technology and social media shaped the leadership style within the millennial generation?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Technology and social media have brought a major paradigm shift in leadership, more so among millennials. For instance, in place of face-to-face meetings, millennials have gotten more comfortable with e-mails, conference calls, etc. Also, an avenue has been created for millennials to connect with one another and across their hierarchies, to not only interact with, but to learn from mentorship programs from same, across the globe. Thus, it appears to me that technology has assisted in pushing the leadership trend among millennials more towards participatory and laissez faire styles.
Bassing: How is leadership different at start-up companies than with larger, more traditional corporations?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Well, we can look at some of the salient differences between the two from the aspects of attitude, focus, growth, primary role, and information retention, among others. With regards to attitude, leaders in traditional companies often have, or arrogate to themselves, the ultimate authority over everyone whereas collaborative leadership often happens in startups. In terms of focus, leaders in a traditional company focus on the organisational performance and expect positive results from their workforce; apart from this, leaders in a startup also focus on developing the knowledge of their staff and train them so they can better support the project of the company.
The primary role of leaders in larger corporations is sometimes only confined to delegating authorities and supervising the work of the subordinates; in startups, a leader is expected to work closely with their subordinates and colleagues to collectively achieve the goals of the company. As you would expect, information is often not as disseminated to all levels of the corporation in larger corporations as opposed to startups where open information sharing is considered critical to the functioning of the corporation.
Bassing: Are effective leadership techniques also effective parenting techniques?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: To a large extent. The family unit is a microcosm of every other human society. Thus, oftentimes, the principles that apply in the macro world also apply in the home. To put this in prosper perspective, consider the fact that parents need to be good conflict resolvers in order to help resolve various sibling rivalries among their children, or the fact that parents need to be assertive enough to teach their children moral standards and principles. Clearly, leadership at home is not significantly different from leadership at the work place( in any case, parenting in itself is a full-time, 7 days a week job I’m humbly open to correction from the parents among us here)
Bassing: What is the difference between leadership and authority, and which is more effective in schools?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: This is an interesting one. Leadership, I believe, is the ability to influence, regardless of possession or otherwise of positional authority. Authority on the other hand, refers to the ability to direct, instruct, influence and guide by default, by dint of one’s position. Thus, a leader may be seen as an influencer, whereas an authority may be seen as an instructor. Regarding their comparative effectiveness, I think a blend of both leadership and authority would achieve optimum results in the management of schools, as compared to any single one of them.
This is because, schools serve as foundational institutions responsible for shaping the individuals that pass through them, thus influencing them. Yet, because these individuals often come in with pre-formed ideals and values and behaviours, not all of which may be necessarily socially or culturally acceptable, and sometimes difficult to correct, some form of administrative authority beyond influence is required in re-shaping them via for instance, enactment and enforcement of school rules and regulations.
Bassing: What are the best leadership techniques to create synergy in culturally or generationally diverse workplaces?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: I think culturally and generationally diverse workplaces are quite a difficult terrain to navigate, especially for young, inexperienced leaders. However, meticulous attention to the following suggestions may be helpful in achieving synergy in such environments:
-being genuinely sensitive to, and interested in other people’s feelings and emotions
-inclusiveness in the decision-making process
-respect for cultural, religious and ideological differences among employees in the formulation and implementation of policies
-identifying and addressing potential sources of conflicts, and
-effective vision casting and communication
Bassing: Compare and contrast the effectiveness of servant leadership and doctorial leadership strategies?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: I believe Servant Leadership and Doctorial Leadership may herein refer to Democratic (and to some extent the Laissez faire) and the Authoritarian Leadership strategies respectively. In that regard then, the following are the merits of the former:
– Policy formulation and implementation and decision-making are usually very effective because stakeholder consultation, due diligence with the people, and meticulous research into the needs and priorities of the people are taken into serious consideration.
– There is transparency, probity and accountability in the governance process because the leader is held accountable to the people.
-The people are an integral part of the governance process and as such are entitled to certain rights, freedoms and responsibilities, including the right to elect their leaders and to be elected into office as well.
However, all these advantages come with the downside of reduced speed of decision-making due to bureaucratic bottlenecks, non-completion of projects due to frequent change of power, and the fact that it is an expensive governance system.
The following are the merits of the latter:
– Generally, the authoritarian leadership style is very efficient in emergency situations, wherein discussion and consultation may actually become counter-productive.
– Decision making is usually very fast, easy and effective. This is because, the process of decision making does not go through any complex bureaucratic consultation, but remains solely the prerogative of the leader.
– Formation and implementation of policies is also very smooth owing to the fact that decision making and policy implementation remain the sole prerogative of the leader. Besides, the execution of projects is more often than not done under strict supervision and sometimes compulsion by the leader.
– Projects which are begun usually see successful completion due to the relative longevity in the tenure of office of the leader.
Unfortunately, all these come with the downside of the high possibility of grave mistakes in policy formulation and implementation which can lead to failed policies and misplaced priorities due to non-consultation, and general resentment among followers as a result of dissatisfaction with the leader.
Bassing: What are the effective leadership strategies to improve time management to increase productivity in the workplaces?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: I think the following suggestions would be useful guides:
-effective vision-casting and communication(make sure everyone on the team understands in what direction the organisation or society is moving, why they’re moving in that direction and how they should move).
-incentive giving(small award schemes, bonus packages etc to efficient employees encourages hard work and persistent efforts, thus reducing time wastage and increasing productivity) and finally,
-effective policy monitoring and evaluation
Bassing: Are meetings effective ways for leaders to disseminate information and communicate with their team?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Absolutely. I believe in-person communication always supersedes virtual communication; emotions are better expressed, disagreements better sorted out, and roles more clearly spelled out.
Bassing: How does the bureaucratic structure of government affect leadership within government employees?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Bureaucracy in itself is a good thing in ensuring checks and balances, and in promoting the pursuit of due diligence in the general scheme of things. However, the bottlenecks inherent in the hierarchy often frustrate employees, especially in instances where quick actions and decisions need to be taken. This frustration then results in avoidable conflicts and misunderstandings. Ultimately, this decreases the output and effectiveness of leadership among government employees.
Bassing: Compare and contrast business leadership and political leadership.
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Well, the two are quite similar in terms of general principles, but with a handful of very different aspects. Business leaders typically focus on a single goal or a limited number of goals eg. Profitability of the business firm, whereas political leadership has to work through multi-faceted goals and objectives eg. Provision of infrastructure, social interventions, policy formulation and implementation among others. In addition, business leaders usually climb through the ranks to attain their status, whereas political leadership does not necessarily always follow track record but instead draws from appeal, likability and emotion.
Bassing: Is democratic election by voting an efficient mode for selecting good leaders?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: This is an important question which I’ve also pondered on before. I think it is only efficient to the extent of how well the systems and institutions within the particular jurisdiction or society in question work. A democratic election that takes place under the stewardship of a biased overseer of the electoral process for example might not be truly representative of the will of the people.
In addition, in recent times, democratic elections seem to be becoming a popularity contest; one in which the wealthy, the famous and the “most appealing” are more often given the nod, as opposed to people who actually have the wherewithal. Also, we may want to think about efficiency in terms of cost; democratic elections, as I’ve pointed out in my book on leadership, are often very expensive.
Bassing: Is leadership an inherent trait or can people be taught to be good leaders?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: This is a very interesting question and the subject of much debate. There are two powerful theories, backed by substantial evidence and years of meticulous research which seek to suggest that leaders, effective ones for that matter, possess certain heritable qualities and traits that better suit them to leadership. These are the Great Man Theory and the Leadership Trait Theory.
These theories advance the argument that leaders possess certain in-born qualities such as creativity, energy, self-confidence, dominance, charisma, problem-solving skills etc. and as such are naturally predisposed to leadership. One of the strongest proponents of this school of thought, Thomas Carlyle (1840), once wrote: “To suggest that leaders do not enter the world with extraordinary endowment is to imply that people enter into the world with equal abilities, with equal talents”.
Conversely, other equally powerful, evidence-based theories such as the Behavioural Theories, which were propounded after decades of meticulous research, believe that through teaching, learning and observation, people can rise to become successful leaders. They further stipulate that leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by training, perception, practice and experience over time; and also, that good leaders seek out development opportunities that will help them learn new skills. The Military for instance, embraces this doctrine which is evident through its leadership training programs. These theories are built on the premise that “birth is a natural process and therefore, the notion to associate it with leadership is arguable”.
Yet still, there are some who argue that leaders are both born and made; to the effect that some researchers suggest that twenty percent (20%) of leaders are born, whiles eighty percent (80%) are made. Inasmuch as there may be some truth to both schools of thought, personally, I lean more towards the latter; if leadership were an inherent trait, we might not have all the excellent militaries, doctors, lawyers, pilots, drivers, teachers among others, that we have today.
QUESTIONS TIME WITH OUR READERS FROM (THE READERS HUB)
Daniel: Thank you for this opportunity. I love the questions and the delivery. My question is this: How do we measure a god leader?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Thank you for the question, Daniel. As I tried to say earlier, the performance of a leader can only be assessed from their ability or otherwise to move their society from their goal-setting to realization of same; yet, that ability in itself is a function of the peculiar circumstances under which the society finds itself. So then, to assess the performance of a leader, the following may be a useful guide:
- What socially-agreed governance style exists in that society or organization?
- What are the indices that define achievement or otherwise of set objectives?
- Is the tenure of leadership under those socially-accepted governance styles or under other circumstances?
Barnabas: Big brother, again, tons of thanks to you, and your esteemed guest, for all-this-important-discourse. My query thus, is simply this; yes, it is not gainsaying that, the first product of self-knowledge is not about quality education advanced, but humility. And that, vain men never hear anything but plaudits/praise. Now, there is this saying my grandmother used to always underwrite us thus, if you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead.
Will the esteemed Guest be amenable to demonstrate to us; (a), what is pride in general terms? And (b), how could one arrest or eliminate this petulant, but sure poisonous child in one’s life – as a leader?
Dr. Stanley Asasu: Thank you, Barnabas. Your question in itself is loaded with loads of wisdom, and I’m thankful for that. Now, I think pride is simply failure to recognize one’s fallibility. Pride makes the human heart fail to accept the fact that our humanity makes us prone to making errors; thus, instead of availing ourselves for constructive criticism and improvement, we exalt ourselves to a point of infallibility. That’s exactly when you know disaster is near.
How do you deal with pride as a leader?
-recognize your own fallibility
-be open to criticism (listen first, always listen. Listen before you disagree)
-recognize other people’s ingenuity
-seek divine intervention (sometimes only the creator knows how best to deal with our human flaws)
Regarding being open to criticism: you would be surprised to realize that not all criticism is borne out of ill-faith. Thus, oftentimes, people who attempt to point out your flaws as a leader may not necessarily be antagonizing you. That’s helpful in not allowing your ego to swallow you. I’ve many stories to illustrate; some personal experiences, but time won’t allow me. I’ll share at a later date, Sir.
Bassing: In fact, Doc is tired and we have to allow him to rest for the day. And on that note, The Readers Hub is highly indebted to you with gratitude for finding time out of your busy schedule to interact and share with us your deep-seated knowledge on this very important topic.
Indeed, leadership is a very critical area of concern that needs urgent attention of the academic to train more people in leadership and management in view of the concatenation of problems around the globe
Doc! It is an awesome discussion and we are most grateful. May the good Lord shower his grace upon you in all your life endeavours.
Dr. Stanley Asasu: It’s been an honour, Sir. I appreciate the opportunity granted me to share on this noble platform. Thank you.
Bassing: Readers, all too soon we have come to the end of yet another interactive, insightful and intellectually engaging segment of our Social Media Monk session.
We are most grateful to all those who find time to interact and asked questions where necessary
I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Readers have picked some useful information out of the interaction on the thematic concern stated supra and shall apply same in our daily lives.
Once again, my name is Bassing Kamal who sat in for your regular moderator Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia)
Until we meet same time with another interactive segment of the Social Media Monk session next week, do have a fruitful weekend and a restful night………………………(Exeunt)
NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit.
Hub Editor: Bassing .A.M.A.Kamal.
! THE END!