The Dilemma Of Public Leadership

By Joseph C. Ibekwe

The greatest dilemma of any leadership is agitations – agitations from among the people. Why do people agitate? There are so many reasons, some are obvious some are not.

How a leader handles agitations, for whatever reason, is what determine his/her quality of leadership. The reason is that human needs are insatiable. No matter how good you are, you neither meet every need nor satisfy everyone. But that does not mean you cannot handle agitations arising from needs in some humane manner, even though you cannot meet all the needs.

In dealing with agitations arising from needs, the greatest tools of any democratic leader are dialogue and persuasion. A democratic leader’s first response to public agitations over any issue is dialogue, then persuasion. The last tool to deal with agitations is force, and only when dialogue and persuasion are exhausted, with no definite results in sight.

On the other hand, the greatest tools of an autocratic leader to addressing agitations are force and brutality. The language of dialogue and conciliation are not associated with autocratic rule.

When you listen to democratic leaders speak on issues of agitations in their domain, you will have this conciliatory message coming through. But that is the opposite when autocratic leaders speak.

There are virtually no agitations that cannot be contained if leaders are willing to dialogue and persuade. When leaders continue to threaten agitators and believe that force and brutality will bring all agitations under control, that will only ecalate situations and protract resolutions.

Leaders must learn to come down from their high horses and dialogue with their people. The arrogance of power makes a mess of possibility of resolutions and gets the system further polarized and socially disorganized.

The dilemma of public Leadership lies in separating the arrogance of power from the humility of dialogue and persuasion as sure way to long-term sustainable conflicts containments.

The more a leader threatens agitators, the more they are pushed to the wall. The more brutal a leader approaches agitators, the more viscous they become. The first thing is dialogue and engage, then use force when all peaceful options are exhausted.

Mr Ibekwe, is a journalist and leadership consultant. He first published this opinion in ©2021. #josephonleadership, #fledinstitute

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