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The issue Of “People Around The Leader:” So Then Where Is Common Sense?

One of the things I continue to fundamentally and principally always disagree with people many times is this perception that many leaders do not live up to expectation because of the “people around them”. In other words, it’s believed that people, especially advisers around the leader should be held liable for the leader’s malfeasant and nonfeasant. This goes to say that the leaders are always misled by these individuals, thus making them to perform dismally or poorly.

Like on the national scene, whenever people allude to this, they are mainly referring to advisors and officials closer to the President such as the person’s “KITCHEN CABINET.” However, this is not just circumscribed to the national scene; even on the local level where people around the leaders are blamed for the wrongful or injudicious acts of the leader.

Every time I hear this, my blood always simmers in me, because I feel it is wrong to conclude in such a way and manner because it is possible that the leader does not take into consideration the pieces of ADVICE given by those around him or her.
And so, it is, an unfair judgment to conclude this way by blaming the people around for the leader’s failure to perform. For me, this seemingly suggests that the leader does not even have “COMMON SENSE.”

Let us take for granted that the people around the leader are advising him or her wrongly, what then happens to the leader’s common sense.

Today, I speak of common sense because it is important in our daily behavior and attitude as humans, as I learned in social science at the University of Liberia. Sometimes, it is not just the formal classroom education, but the common sense we implore in dealing or handling certain situations we find ourselves to do.

Just this week during the LBS correspondents’ training workshop, when I lectured on MEDIA ETHICS, I told the trainees that there are certain assignments that the reporter or photographer must be discrete to protect himself or herself, stating that there are situations during which journalists must apply common sense, instead of relying on the conspicuous display of ID cards.

Whenever people refer to common sense, as we are told it “refers to sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts; the act of judging, the power or faculty of performing such operations; especially, when unqualified, the faculty of judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely.”

Furthermore, it also refers to “the conclusion or result of judging; an opinion; a decision. The act of determining, as in courts of law, what is conformable to law and justice; also, the determination, decision, or sentence of a court, or of a judge.

Common sense is also defined as, “having or showing common sense; sound and practical; sensible or originally, the faculty which supposedly united and interpreted impressions of the five sense.”

Judging from this, I feel it is wrong for people to always blame advisors or people around the leader, as if the leader does not have common sense. I always said that some of our parents did not benefit from formal school, but that does not mean that they did not have sense or will take decisions that are not prudent or sagacious, but are inane.
It is for this reason I always prefer people being referred to as being “unlettered” rather than being “illiterate.” That is, those unlettered persons can discern between wrong and right and are even civilized unlike some of us who got formal education.

But I should not be misconstrued as saying that formal education is not necessary No! This is not my argument. But sometimes people behave as though they do not have common sense.

Again, I say it is wrong to conclude that every time a leader egregiously goofed, those around him or her should be blamed. Maybe, the leader does not listen or pay heed to pieces of advice or that the leader is what is locally referred to as “KNOW-ALL,” indicating one who feels incorrigible. Likewise, there are some who have this domineering traits, as such, whatever they do or say is the final, nothing but the final, which cannot be altered or reversed.

Let me also say that sometimes the people around the leader tell him or her what the leader wants to hear because this was, as we say in law, “the regular course of business ” The business of lies and deception to suit the whims and caprices of the leader.

Conversely, if one does not dance to this beat of the sycophantic drum, there is a likelihood if one could be eliminated or considered “enemies of the state” as some of us are labeled. Don’t ask me what are the consequences if one is characterized in such manner and form.

Former President Charles Taylor

For example, during the civil conflict, when people around the late President Samuel Doe told him repeatedly that things were under control, as the then forces of Charles Taylor and now Senator Prince Johnson were being repelled, something that was completely diametrical to the true or actual picture of the situation on the battlefield.

But again, this was what the leader wanted to hear because the truth could have infuriated him, thus venting his anger on the messenger, and perhaps, it could have ended with the song, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”.

I also recall during that time, Rev. Edwin Lloyd of the Red Cross then, called for the REBELS and government to dialogue. The old man was condemned with disparaging comments, thereby compelling him to retreat or clarify his statement, as this was not what the leader wanted to hear, as sycophancy, hypocrisy and deceit were the order of the day.

I am citing the situation of the conflict because the late President Doe should have known or have all reasons to know from “COMMON SENSE” considering the security situation, that things were not under control. The late Doe should have known from common sense that how can one speak of things being under control when the general security situation in the country was degenerating as the former rebels were advancing.

My experience over the years shows that common sense can lead to the issue of foresee-ability and predictability, as one would be able to determine what to expect in the future in a given situation. A good example of this as it relates to common sense is in the field of politics in national leaders whose tenures are about to expire embark on amending the constitution for unlimited tenures.

Commonsensically with this, one can deduce that such leader is not embarking on this because the person wants to leave power, but to entrench himself or herself in power.

Guinea incumbent President seeking third term

In West Africa, some leaders whose tenure expires are involved in tactics to ensure that the laws regarding limited tenure are changed to afford such leader continue perpetually, as they would frequently seek re-election. Even with incessant protests, such leader goes ahead in manipulating the process to win.

Guinea Opposition leader Celli Diallo

This is why I was even surprised when I saw Guineans, apparently from the opposition joyously jubilating in Monrovia that the opposition leader, Celli Diallo in the Guinean elections, has won. From what was obtaining prior to the elections, like the change in tenure, the opposition, out of common sense, should have known that the incumbent, Prof Alpha Conde, was going to emerge victorious. I should not be misconstrued as suggesting that he rigged the elections because I have no evidence.

Also, we should beware that people around the leader tell him or her things the leader wants to hear or be done in keeping with the modus operandi of the leader. There is an anecdote of a story about who, whenever he said to his subordinates, “I don’t want to see him,” was tantamount to elimination by death.

But the story went on to say that one day, forgetting about this course of business, gave similar order to one of his subordinates, who as usual, eliminated the person. But by the time the leader got to know, it was late. And so you see when people get to know certain action or what the leader expects them to have implemented as regular course of business, they would go on.

Let me conclude by saying that it is just unfair to blame people around the leader for all of the leader’s missteps. All in all, common sense should always serve as a guide too, in leadership; it should never be overlooked.

I Rest My Case

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