GHANA: SERVANT LEADERSHIP – A FOCUS ON KWAHU WEST MUNICIPAL HEALTH DIRECTORATE

By: Richard Buabeng/www.africanakua.com, Ghana

The process of leadership is at the core of many successful and failed groups like families, social groups of all kinds and organisations. Why do we consider leadership to be so important in achieving organizational goals?

Groups like contemporary organisations operate in environments characterised by high-speed change and increasing complexity. Thus, it is appropriate for us to at least understand what Leadership is in the broader sense and then narrow it down to the leadership manifested by Ms. Celestine Asante the Director of Health Services at Kwahu West Municipality.

DEFINITION

According to Peter Drucker, “Leadership is shifting of our own vision to higher sights, the raising of man’s performance to higher standards, the building of man’s personality beyond its normal limitations.”

Thus, It is important to add that, “In the field of public health [leadership] relates to the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of their community and/or the organization in which they work.

It involves inspiring people to craft and achieve a vision and goals. Leaders provide mentoring, coaching, and recognition. They encourage empowerment, allowing other leaders to emerge.” PHAC (2007)

IMPORTANCE OF LEADERSHIP

Organisations must not lose sight of the fact that advancements in technology are creating opportunities for new management models that can dramatically shift their competitive landscape.

Some historians believe that our world is undergoing a transformation more profound and far-reaching than any experienced since the Industrial Revolution (Daft, 2008).

Because of these ongoing organisational transformations, effective leadership is needed more than ever. When any leader or organisation loses sight of these, they create for themselves and leave behind a trail of possible non-achievements, failures and underdevelopments.

Therefore, Leadership is one of the most important predictors of whether groups and organizations are able to effectively adapt to and perform in dynamic environments (Peterson, Smith, Martorana, & Owens, 2003; Peterson, Walumbwa, Byron, & Myrowitz, 2009).

Desirably so is the transformational leadership of Ms. Celestine Asante, Kwahu West Municipal Health Director of Health Services.

Speaking alongside other dignitaries present including the Special Guest of Honour Nana Effah Opinamang III and the Member of Parliament Hon. Joseph Frimpong at the inauguration of the new ultramodern office complex of the directorate on 26th of February, the Chairman of the event Hon. Kingsley Agyemang who happens to be the Registrar for the Scholarship Secretariat along with the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Kwahu West could not hide their joy as they spoke with pride about the achievement of Ms. Celestine Asante through their team work, vision, goal oriented leadership and management including the MCE of Kwahu West, Chiefs, Queen mothers and people of Obomeng and its environs’ willingness who give out their resources including an acre of land in such a prime neighbourhood like Abeportia a suburb of Nkawkaw without any charge.

This is why leadership is important. Is this not inspirational and worth celebrating? Peter Drucker made an emphatic statement that “Those who seek to lead, but fail to manage… are not relevant to their organisations or to their societies.” And these leaders have proved beyond doubt in the management of this project. Will anyone not want us to be around such progressive minded leaders?

SHARED AND INSPIRED VISION

Furthermore, Ms. Celestine Asante made it clear in her address about the importance of sharing and communicating vision. The principle of Shared Vision encompasses sharing of a picture of a desired future that all stakeholders want to create or of what an organisation could and should be.

She shared her vision with her subordinates and superiors through effective communications. The problem of storing vaccine among others caused her to come up with a plan to solve these problems with her team.

This stimulated all hands to be on deck with the little they all could give. She encouraged staff to give some and at sometimes all their allowances in order to invest into the project though uncomfortable but for the vision. This is a vision well shared among all the stakeholders.

ENCOUNTER WITH A GOOD LEADER

So, at our first meeting in her old office, I did not know what to expect. I was thus in awe as to her candour and demeanor.  She was simply amazing and terrific to speak to.

At other times we spoke on the phone, her voice and composure was always refreshing and calming, this minimises stress one may have leading towards the conversation.

As health professionals this is good for mental health and in our therapeutic communications with our clients.

But do we not see this in some of our health leaders and managers today? I have encountered some of such and much is to be desired.

Can we say it is due to the subculture of “BIG MAN or BIG WOMAN” in our society alienating us from our core functions as leaders? Must we not be problem solvers and transforming our communities?

Have we not developed superiority complexes that makes us virtually unapproachable? Why do we have leaders who think people must be at their feet and at their mercy just for being in a privileged position?

Such has encouraged the corruption to thrive in our healthcare system. It is a colonial masters and imperialists tradition. It reminds me of the music of Legendary revolutionary FELA KUTI’s “V.I.P” track.

I encourage you to go on YouTube and listen. We must consciously work to let it go if we are to attain freedom, justice, equality and universal health coverage in the healthcare system of Ghana. Do you know what type of leader people follow and give their all to like Ms. Celestine Asante? That’s a Servant Leader.

LEADERSHIP IS SERVICE

Finally, Service is at the core of leadership, if you intend to lead, let service to others become your core value. Servant leadership is one of the purest form of leading. It is by putting the needs of your people first that they know you care about them. Remember people will follow you the furthest not because of your fame, money or power but rather how much you care about them.

Leadership must be nurtured at all levels of an organisation. It is important that we encourage a systems thinking approach in achieving our organisational goals and objectives.

Health professionals and leaders in Ghana must manifest ethics, integrity and service. Do not be an ordinary health professional but be an exceptional one who impacts the community in which they serve.

If one professes to be a leader and they have decided not to care about or cannot solve problems, such must not be encouraged to lead.

Ghana and Africa needs to develop and become economically free. Effective leadership leads to development. Ms. Celestine Asante is a role model and worthy of emulation by all her peers and those she leads, Congratulations to you and your team. Ayeekoooo!

Richard Buabeng is a Mental Nurse @ The Ghana Health Service.

Project Coordinator Africa @ HRDS India.

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