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President Mnangagwa: A whole-brained leader

03 May 2020 at 08:58hrs | Views
AS Zimbabwe celebrates 40 years of independence, it is prudent to pay tribute to His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's leadership and his economic blueprint, Vision 2030.

The subject of leadership has captured the imagination of all, throughout the ages and each field of human endeavour. There are many traditional theories on leadership and effective leaders largely contribute to the success of an organisation.

In today's socio-economic environment, where the future is speedily bringing new developments due to globalisation and technological innovation, a whole-brained approach to leadership is essential. The whole-brain thinking style of leadership is already being applied in various fields like politics, the military and science, among others. The style of leadership depends on nurture and nature. Thus, the whole-brain approach begins with the individual's personality, which is shaped by uniquely inherited traits, culture or upbringing and the environment that both stimulates and shapes us.

Learning, thinking or behaviour is influenced by genetically predisposed strong personality traits and the culture into which people are born. Yet, still modified by learning, thinking styles and skills including perceptions, motivation and values.

The main leadership question to answer is whether leaders are born (trait) or are made (process). One school of thought is that leaders are born with certain qualities or traits.

The inborn characteristics or qualities of certain people differentiate them from non-leaders. The leadership quality resides in the select few and is restricted only to those with inborn talent.

The other school of thought is that leadership is a development process of coaching and learning to establish the leadership process. Leadership can be observed in leaders' behaviour and can be learned by others. The main issue to consider is the whole-brained leadership quality, which is developed through a never ending process of adaptability, self-study, improvisation, education, training and experience.

Leadership is a set of skills and abilities acquired through proper learning, coaching and personal willpower to work hard and practice critical leadership practices.

The whole-brained approach to leadership recognises the fact that good leaders are either made or born but the critical issue is will-power and desire.

In Zimbabwe, the power to be in leadership is embedded in the passionate desire to transform the lives of people from a colonial-orientation to a new Zimbabwe where sovereignty is defined in terms of empowerment programmes that are in place, which seek to correct the historical economic imbalances. This means wrestling with a colonial mindset, characterised by lack of vision to understand the importance of land as a strategic factor of production. To get food on the table, good leaders empower people to be creative and to strategise to survive through multi-skilling.

The current leadership of President Mnangagwa is shaping the people of Zimbabwe towards that direction. Local industries and other stakeholders are being encouraged to vigorously pursue inward-looking initiatives and also participate in infrastructural development including road construction and building dams etcetera.

Our universities today are getting empowered to become factories of knowledge, which is useful to the country. They responded with speed to produce personal protective equipment (PPEs), which are useful in the fight against Covid-19.

This means the character of the current leadership is offering opportunities to the intellectual resource of the country to respond to challenges of the country. To achieve greatness using the whole-brained approach in leadership, leaders are expected to be, to know and to do what they want their followers to become, know and do.

The whole-brained model combines the concept that we do not only have left (logical, analytical and critical) and right (conceptual, creative and strategic) hemispheres of our brain, but thinking or cerebral (conservative, sequential and detailed) modes as well as emotional or limbic (social, expressive and kinesthetic) modes.

Thus we can say we have left and right thinking selves, as well as left and right emotional selves. Leadership, team building and motivation overlap and are interdependent. They cannot be separated. Our preferred styles in using power and communication in enhancing subordinates performance may equally be influenced by our personality, brain dominance or by our ethno-cultural self.

It is hard wired in all humans to seek for leaders among us to play football, to run our families, tribes and organisations or to make money. Even in worship, we seek out messianic figures for ultimate guidance, even redemption or salvation.

At this stage in our national journey, the immediate aftermath of the 40th anniversary of our independence is sadly affected by the unfolding global nightmare of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These are very trying times for humanity for all nations, ourselves included. Covid-19 threatens large scale loss of life, livelihoods, economic and social carnage, exacerbated challenges in healthcare and diminished earnings. This comes hot on the heels of last year's Cyclone Idai calamity.

That said, we are still blessed in many other ways. As a nation we are in caring, consistently capable hands of a listening leadership in the person of President Mnangagwa.

It is said of the colourful figure Joseph in Genesis 37: 3 and 4, that Israel loved his son Jacob and he gave him an ornamented tunic or more commonly the coat of many colours, thus marking him for leadership and inevitably setting him up for conflicts with his brethren down the line.

While to my knowledge President Mnangagwa probably does not have a coat of many colours, he has adorned many a tunic and many a coat in the diverse missions, undertakings and assignments he has been tasked to carry out for our nation in his long illustrious tour of duty.

From youthful party activist, detainee, pioneering liberation fighter, commander, key ministerial portfolios after independence, party portfolios, the Vice Presidency and now President of the nation and First Secretary of the Zanu-PF party — he has done it all.

There is no doubt His Excellency, the most distinguished son of the soil, was not only marked for leadership from the onset but has more than and continues to live up to the exacting expectations of our revolutionary movement, the nation and the region. His pronouncement that the land issue is irreversible pays testimony to this. We see him now as we have in the past, on the front line of the national mission — mobilising, organising and availing resources, and providing unstinting leadership, oversight and perspective in the national fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is still the man for the trenches as he was during the liberation struggle.

The whole-brained approach to leadership also characterises the leadership of His Excellency as a transformational leader mandated to restore the integrity of the nation. Leadership is highly observable when a nation is confronted with challenges such as the coronavirus.

It was indeed as in biblical times of Mosaic dictates that apart from regular leadership, the leader required a prophetic underpinning in their identification. In Exodus 18:21, the great Moshe is counseled thus by his father-in-law: "You shall also seek out from among all the people capable men who fear God, trustworthy men who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens."

The above Mosaic counsel reiterates the need for teamwork and servant leadership, an approach which is part of the leadership style of His Excellency, the President. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, high performance teams were immediately set up. The high performance teams comprise eight sub-committees, namely: Implementation and monitoring; public health strategy and infrastructure; information and communication; materials production; food and water availability and distribution; resource mobilisation and coordination; logistics and law and order.

In the same vein, Cabinet composition encompasses diversity and this builds into a heterogeneous high performance team working together towards the attainment of the national vision.

In addition, the intellectuals in the country was also empowered to respond to the national crisis and are currently manufacturing PPEs, ventilators and other necessities.

Our health scientists are busy in laboratories researching solutions to the global health challenge. Transformational leaders empower intellectuals in the country to become immersed in the challenges confronting the nation.

While the transformational leader seeks overtly to transform the status of the nation, there is also an implied promise from followers to become committed to the nation's reconstruction values.

The goal of transformational leadership is to "transform" people and organisations. The President is exceptional, given the influence that moves followers to accomplish more than what is usually expected of them. The whole-brained leadership approach characterises effective leaders as visionaries with capacity to transform the country to become a better world for the people. Transformational leadership incorporates charismatic and visionary leadership to achieve goals. The leader is characterised by an unwavering commitment to keep the nation going, particularly through the darker times. The whole-brained leadership aims to balance attention between action that creates progress and the mental state of their followers. His Excellence is people-oriented and believes that people and success come first.

When a heterogeneous team comprising wide diversity elements in terms of ethnicity, culture, gender, age and or personality, among others flow together in an organisation, the productivity of individual persons is likely to be higher when compared to high performance homogeneous teams.

The choice of teams by President Mnangagwa and aspiration of our national vision is a clear sign of whole-brained leadership. Whole-brained leaders are both introvert and extrovert leaders, with capacity to understand issues confronting them more deeply and more widely. This brings about the aspect of motivation — bringing teams to high performance to achieve targets in a more spirited way as demonstrated by his implementation of 100-Day Cycle programmes as a management tool.

Our President continuously engages various stakeholders on issues of national interest. In the ongoing fight against Covid-19, the President consulted all stakeholders including captains of industry and traditional leaders, to mention just a few.

His Excellency's monthly clean-up campaign nationwide is a demonstration of visionary leadership in light of the current health need at the global level.

High performance teams comprise highly committed, motivated and supportive people, working together in harmony and synergy to achieve shared high performance goals and standards, and are distinguished from a normal team by their degree of precision and standard achieved.

The team is characterised by high skills and their togetherness with interdependence, trust and high loyalty. Clarity, understanding and knowing their goals, responsibility and relations is what also characterises high performance teams. These high performance teams became a very critical part of the leadership template not just in biblical times but also in secular arrangements even to this day in many cultures. Leaders are men and women of vision, of virtue and integrity with functional inner compasses for our guidance and direction of the national steps and endeavours.

The tunics of leadership may be colourful like the one Joseph wore but they often invite arrows for the wearer: be they arrow of envy, scorn, anger, resentment or revilement — resulting in arrest, detentions and attempts on one's life. His Excellency has had more than his fair share of such challenges from youthful times, through to adulthood and as a leader of our nation but he has weathered them all and like Joseph of scripture, may the grace of our Lord remain upon him in this regard.

I, for one, I am heartened by his resolve and grace in the face of onslaughts over the seasons, past and present. I am heartened also for his farsightedness and focus on the bigger picture of the vision, the reason for and the parameters of the mission, the task at hand and the ways and means to accomplish it, and make a good report to our people and other stakeholders in our national project.

The qualities of a good leader are mostly tested during challenges, trials and tribulations. The ability of a leader to be effective and stand in storms depends on nurture and nature.

On this note, great appreciation goes to the late revolutionary parents of President Mnangagwa, for bringing up a true son of the soil. His Excellency inherited good personality traits and leadership styles from his revolutionary parents and some of his good leadership qualities were further shaped during childhood and the environment he grew up in.

From the onset of the Second Republic and the transitional period of the events leading up to it, His Excellency set out an unmistakably different tone and approach to national and party leadership characterised by vastly expanded and recalibrated democratic space, which is participatory, open, compassionate, diverse, modern and the relentless pursuit of national development and socio-economic advancement.

His "Zimbabwe is Open for Business" mantra has seen improved international geopolitical re-engagement. To date we have seen many initiatives and programmes nationally, regionally and internationally in pursuance of Vision 2030.

At the onset of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa articulated this national vision for the next decade. The diversity of his Cabinet has helped to engage, propagate and implement Vision 2030. A vision is a picture of things to come and defines people's aspirations in the near future. Visions just like faith define the purpose of existence for individuals as well as organisations.

Thus the common quote, "where there is no vision, the people perish". From a biblical point of view, a vision defines things to come and only those with faith can partake such blessings.

Most successful organisations, locally and internationally, are driven by documented visions of their leaders/founders. A vision is something that is intangible and yet so powerful. It is like a destiny that no one can take from you. One can only rest upon achieving it. Thus, no matter the challenges one may face in the journey towards the vision, energy is rejuvenated by the far distant future. Vision fosters a unity of purpose at personal, organisational and national level.

Any organisation's existence and its ability to stay competitive today and in the near future, partly depends on its vision and ability of internal stakeholders especially subordinates to rally behind the vision of leadership.

These characteristics apply to His Excellency's roadmap towards Vision 2030. Thus, even in the face of black swan events like Covid-19 — Vision 2030 remains the over arching national policy document and indeed our collective national objective to which our unstinting unity and collective best endeavours must be rallied under the continuing leadership of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa.

It is a sound, clear, actionable and achievable vision, which we must remain loyal to.


Honourable Joel Biggie Matiza is the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Zanu-PF Mashonaland East Provincial Chairman and an architect.

Source - sundaymail
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