After that thought provoking speech by the Honorable Deputy Minister of education in charge of Tertiary education, a citation was presented to him as a mark of appreciation of his efforts and achievements as far as leadership is concerned. This same gesture was extended to other speakers who graced the Ghana Tertiary Student Leadership Conference. I think this is a laudable gesture that accentuates the Bible Verse in Romans13:79 (King James Version) that says “RENDER THERFORE TO ALL THEIR DUES:TRIBUTE TO WHOM TRIBUTE IS DUE;CUSTOM TO WHOM CUSTOM;FEAR TO WHOM FEAR; HONOUR TO WHOM HONOUR”
After the presentation of the citation, the next speaker to take his turn was Mr. Bayon Taylor a representative of Rev.Dr. Joyce Aryee who couldn’t make it to the event. As he was preparing to mount the podium to deliver his speech, there was a cacophony of murmurings amongst the participants present and I was no exception. This was because we had sat down for close to three hours. As a result, hunger and fatigue was beginning to set in. Observant and considerate as he was, Mr. Bayor admitted that, he could see hunger written all over our faces so he would just use five minutes to teach us some values of a good leader and then he would take leave of us. He mentioned Good Character, Commitment, Integrity etc. as some of the values a good leader should possess. While he was making his points I spotted two pretty ladies with Baskets filled with pastries and some soft drinks. I was beaming with smiles because I was very hungry and needed something to satisfy my ravenous hunger.
I must admit anytime I hear of an up coming program I ask whether Item 13(Refreshment) would be available before I make up my mind whether to go or not. It wasn’t specified in this program and as a result some of my mates didn’t come.
I was salivating when it wasn’t getting to my turn to have a gulp of my drink but eventually I had my share of the item 13 and consumed it like a hungry lion. We were treated to some cultural displays which I had no interest in but I was enthralled by a spoken word performance by one of the participants which bothered around Ghanaian history. I was awed by the way he articulated his words and created rhymes with it.
As the saying goes “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY AND ALL PLAY AND NO WORK MAKES JACK A LAZY BOY” we had to revert to the main reason for the occasion.
Our next speaker and the one to crown it all was Bishop Samuel Noi Mensah the presiding Bishop of Full Gospel Church international. He is also the Founder, Board Chairman and C.E.O of Omega Leadership International; an organization that is committed to developing, raising leaders and shaping their vision. You can visit http://kofimarfo.wix.com/fullgospelchurch#!bishop-s-n-mensah/c1kju to find out more about him.
Bishop N. Mensah began his presentation with a Slide captioned Vision. He went on further to add that, Vision is the fuel that drives leaders. He then asked us some key poignant questions which we couldn’t find answers to. What is the Ghanaian dream? Where would Ghana be in the next Ten or Fifteen years from now? At this moment there was dead silence in the auditorium. Every body went into a trance of deep thought, pondering over these poignant and splintering questions.
He went on further and Vociferously said that, our politicians can’t even tell us where we would be in the next ten to fifteen years. It’s the hard truth irrespective of which side of the political factions you are on. Our politicians come up with their manifestoes coterminous with the tenure in which they would be in office. They don’t have any clear cut comprehensive long term plan toward the development of this country so we as a people are also just wallowing in the conundrum .
Bishop Mensah went further to add that, as a result of lack of vision every government that comes to power terms their first two years as a foundation laying stage to take off and in the long run, they end up not taking off.
He showed us a slide of a slum and asked us to identify where we can relate that slum to in Ghana and there was a plethora of answers. Some people said Chorkor, some mentioned Odawna. Ashaiman etc. He told us the image of the slum we just saw was south korea in the 1960’s. He then switched to a new slide of a City that was far developed than the first slide we saw and he said this is South Korea now. Everybody was amazed to the extent that I even exclaimed WHAT A MAGIC!!.
THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT IS SEOL, SOUTH KOREA IN THE 1960’S AND THE PICTURE ON THE RIGHT IS THE CITY OF SEOL CURRENTLY.
He went on to quote Lee Kuan yew who was the 1st prime minister of Singapore. “Honest and effective Government, public order and personal security, economic and social progress did not come about as the natural course of events but by deliberate creative leadership”
“Leadership is the development of vision and strategies; the alignment of relevant people behind these strategies and the empowerment of individuals to make the vision happen despite obstacles”- J.P Kotter.
Bishop N. Mensah made reference to the image of South Korea presently as the product of the principles in these two quotes. He went further to espouse some key components of leadership.i.e Leadership is the development of vision; “Vision is a clear mental picture of how one envisages tomorrow to be, about what one could be, and should be and the bridge that connects the present to the future”.( S.N. Mensah, 2015)
Alignment of relevant people behind the visions. If one has a vision, the relevant people would come on board and buy into that vision to make it a reality.
The Ability to make vision happen despite obstacles is a key component of leadership. The number one job of a leader is to get the job done devoid of any excuses. Leaders don’t explain problems but they rather solve problems in the midst of obstacles.
He touched on Visionary leadership. He explained visionary leadership as the capacity to craft, develop and translate vision into action. Vision calls for determination despite obstacles. Vision is about where you want to be tomorrow, What kind of individual you want to be. Ones job as a leader is to overcome obstacles. Obstacles can be in the form of poverty, coming from remote villages etc. but as long as one has a vision, one can overcome any obstacle. Bill Gates succinctly puts it this way “To be born poor is not your mistake but to die poor is your mistake”
Leaders don’t give up. In the midst of difficult situations they spur on and find a way out. The greater the challenge, the higher the degree of teamwork. Furthermore, leaders don’t take their eyes off the vision. They are always focused and concerned about the accomplishment of their vision.
Bishop Mensah made a profound assertion which for a moment, left me in a state of confusion. He said “vision leads leaders, leaders don’t lead vision”. Leaders keep their eyes on the bigger picture. They do not forget about the bigger picture even in the midst of distractions.
Just like in a game of football where the winner is determined by the score on the score board, every vision is regulated by a score board. The score on your score board tells you whether you are making progress or you a digressing.
Vision is the beginning and end of society. It determines your friends and the diets you eat.
He concluded by saying “ The greatest disaster for any society organization or nation is not the absence of a leader, but a leader without vision.
In his concluding remarks he quipped that Ghana’s educational system has produced robot graduates. They chew notes, pour during exams and after that they forget. The saddest part is some throw away their textbooks after their exams and if you ask them to recount what they learnt in the previous semester, they end up fumbling. They are not trained to be problem solvers and this trait traverses to the higher echelons of society where everybody wants to be told what they are expected to do.
Bishop. N. Mensah finally entreated us to get a copy if his book titled:VISION, THE FUEL THAT DRIVES LEADERS. It is a comprehensive book that covers all the intricacies of leadership
I can confidently say without any shred of doubt that, this program has really impacted me positively and anyone who missed this conference has really done a great disservice to him/herself. Hope is not lost. we look forward to the next edition of Ghana Tertiary Student Leadership Conference.
Richmond Anim Damoah(Left) C.E.O of Echo of leadership Africa, striking a pose with Bishop Samuel Noi Mensah(Right). The Presiding Bishop of Full Gospel International Church.
Once again many thanks to Echo of leadership Africa and the SRC of Central University college for steering this conference to a successful end.