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Traits African and Western Leaders Would Be Wise To Learn From Each Other
Apr 04 – Apr 17, 2024
dr sam adeyemi

Though born in Kogi State and raised in Niger and Kwara States, Adeymi has spent most of his working life in Lagos. He currently lives in Atlanta.

Three African Leadership Traits Western Leaders Would Be Wise to Learn:

1) Relatability: African leaders relate a lot more to the people they lead. This is because African culture and social structure is naturally close-knit. Africans therefore have a lot less structure around their leaders, and in many ways are more accessible — emotionally and physically — than their Western counterparts. Africans’ relatability nurtures loyalty to their leaders.

2) Humility: For the most part, African leaders have experienced a lot of deprivation. This makes them humble and in touch with the needs of people at the lowest level. I grew up in a town that had neither TV signals nor TV sets; experiences such as these are a constant reminder that leadership is about serving others, not about feeling smarter or better than others.

3) Spirituality: Africans generally don’t separate their religion from their function in the public space. Therefore, they are unlikely to separate their religious values from the way they lead. Even if they are coy about their religious values, they know that the people will hold them up to the values of their religion.

Three Western Leadership Traits African Leaders Would Be Wise to Learn:

1) Accountability: Despite our democratic governments, traditional African leadership is monarchical in structure, and so Africans still treat their political leaders as monarchs. Because the king is traditionally accountable to no one, the level of accountability for African leaders is low, and they get away with a lot. However, like their Western counterparts, it is in the best interest of African leaders to make themselves more accountable to their people — both their leadership ability and the countries they run would benefit.

2) Service: One of the big differences I’ve seen between African and Western leaders is how leadership is cultivated. When Americans submit an application to college or fill out a resume, it is always beneficial to have done volunteer work. This is almost completely absent in Africa. Without cultivating a mindset for service from a young age, you are more likely to get leaders that use the power of their office to solve their own problems and meet their own needs.

3) Value For Life: When measuring Western countries against African countries, the difference comes down to how the individual is treated. African leaders need to learn that the greatest measure of our leadership is in the quality of people we produce, and therefore invest the best resources in giving the average human dignity and a good quality of life.
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