Sunday, February 16, 2014

It isn’t Leadership Problem, it is Followership Problem

Power inserts godlessness in a lot of people. A lot of times, people who were once morally sound, start abusing their authority when they get power. Power creates a hallucination among these people of being demi-gods. This is why we see a lot of leaders abusing their power, the trust of their followers and compromising on their ethics.

When people talk about leadership problem in Nepal in all sectors, be it politics, business, bureaucracy, civilian society, I get amused. As I wrote earlier, it is human psychology to act differently when one gets power. One believes one can do anything and get away with it. So, selfishness creeps in and the responsibility towards society goes down the drain. And this happens all over the world. Be it in global superpower USA – President Nixon of Watergate case or President Clinton of Lewinsky case or ex-CEO Skilling of Enron case. Or in very unstable countries like Zimbabwe – President Mugabe. Once they attained power, they thought they could get away with any misdeeds, thus the demi-god hallucination. Leaders who can control these urges and still work towards the good of society are very few in numbers.

So, despite the global superpowers like USA having their fair share of faulting leaders, these countries have grown and remained to be the great economies while Nepal is still an underdeveloped nation? (you can call it developing, but you know that is a lie)

Is it really a leadership problem that we have in Nepal or is it something else? In the developed nations, there is so much of scrutiny from public and press when any leader sways from his responsibilities. The public and press acts as a controlling mechanism. The pressure on performance is so high that faulty leaders find it so hard to sustain their positions. This is totally opposite in Nepal. People support leaders for their own selfish agendas.

If the NC candidate in my constituency gets my drunkard, eve teaser, uneducated son into a government job, I will vote for him. If the Maoist candidate gives money for my booze, I will vote him instead. If my CEO will ever try to point fingers at me, no matter how bad my work is, I will join the union and protest to remove him. On the other hand, if I get a healthy bonus, I don’t care if my CEO is taking money from the company coffers to make personal investments.

And above all, we (public) never fight for our rights. We never protest against any misdeeds of our leaders. Our Prime Minister is always right. Our CEO is always right. Our leader is always right. A leader loses in First-Past-The-Post from three constituencies and he still gets nominated by the party. What did the other members in the party do? Nothing. Leaders of a party are exposed in an audio recording of their ill motives to capture the state. What did the public do? Nothing. A party hands over leadership only to family members but talks of being most democratic. What did the other members in the party do? Nothing.

This is how the followers are in Nepal. We do nothing when the leaders fault. We either are coward enough not to protest their decisions or lazy enough to get out of our comfort zone and ask questions. Maybe it is the selfishness in us that stops us from questioning our leaders. Maybe we have taken some benefits from the leaders in the past or intend to do so in the future. Maybe we had asked the leaders to free our crook son from prison, maybe we asked the leaders to donate healthy sum for our daughter’s marriage, maybe we asked the leaders to give us the government projects, maybe we asked them to help our nephew get a driving license without appearing for test, maybe we asked the Principal extra leaves from our duty schedule, maybe we asked the CEO to give us high appraisal rating, maybe we want the elected leaders never to audit our VAT bills so that we can evade taxes. So, who is to blame when the leaders think and act as if they are demi-gods? Of course, the followers.

So, it is not that Nepal has leadership problems. We have our fair share of faulty leaders. We do have smart, intelligent and morally sound leaders. But, our selfishness ensures that the faulty ones remain in power while the good ones just make news in the inner pages of some local newspapers. We as followers have failed to move away from short-term individual benefits towards long-term social benefits. We have only boosted the demi-god hallucination among our leaders. So, it is we – the followers- who are to be blamed for the situation Nepal is in. It is not a leadership problem, it is a followership problem.

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