Theme: It is the passion for servant hood leadership not the length of leadership that counts.
Leadership has been there from time immemorial. It is a critical aspect of social interaction. All societies in the eight continents in the world have had leaders at different times and levels. As a result, there have been different explanations with regard to where leadership originates from and who prompts it. Some say leadership is an art, others say it is talent. There are those who say it is a science. Yet others believe leadership is from God.
There are leaders in all spheres of life: the military, religion, sports, governance, politics, to name a few. At this point a number of the greatest leaders in the world easily come to mind. They include Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Margret Thatcher. Close to us, there have been renowned leaders of our own such as Julius Nyerere in Tanzania and in our own county Kenya, Wangari Maathai. There are many more leaders who are not yet born and who will come in future.
And now it may be appropriate to ask you the inductees some questions: When did you personally decide to take up leadership? At what point did you realize you were a leader? As you ponder over the questions let me point out a few facts about leadership. One is that leaders do not dictate their legacy. It comes naturally and in most cases long after the persons have left the stage. Mandela never dreamt he would be President. He became President after he left prison. His greatness only became apparent in his old age. Nyerere was never revered when he was alive. In fact, during his early political life some critics dismissed him as a communist.
There are common attributes that great leaders including those listed above have exhibited. They transformed people, were intelligent, displayed charisma, possessed foresight and vision, had will power, and revealed great oratory skills.
As leaders you may be aware or not that you have these skills. And even if you had them, you need to spruce and sharpen them.
You and indeed most of your colleagues are at various stages of growth physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, chronologically and intellectually. It is important that you carefully assist and nurture those you are leading to grow positively and meaningfully. The moment you were sworn in as leaders you accepted this responsibility. To do this effectively, you must control the direction of your own growth so that you are role models that should be emulated.
Leaders lead from the front. One of the best examples is the matriarch of an elephant herd. She takes the lead in sensing where there is water, food and danger while the rest follow. The matriarch is always a level higher than the rest in intelligence and emotionally. To lead successfully, you need to be more knowledgeable than most of your colleagues and be able to reason and make intelligent judgement. One of the ways of cultivating this is sparing time to read and understand all the instruments of governance including the statutes and your own constitution. Secondly, as leaders you need to balance your time well so you can cope with your leadership roles, social life, spiritual life and above all studies. All the leaders of the world have high IQ. It will be catastrophic for you as a leader to mislead followers into wrong action just because their knowledge of the environment around them is limited.
What distinguishes good leaders is charisma. This is normally the powerful personal quality that attracts and impresses followers. Among the elements that contribute to charisma is personality, voice projection and grooming. It is imperative for you to polish all aspects that will enhance one’s charisma. We are not only preparing you for leadership now but also for the future.
To guide others one needs to possess foresight and vision. This is the ability to predict what may happen in the near and distant future and provide solutions to the challenges inherent.
Leadership is not a piece of cake. It is demanding and requires resilience and will power. Leadership qualities are best tested during crisis. You should persevere in the face of criticism especially from your critics and competitors. To minimize the pressure, you should be ready to embrace those you beat and those with divergent opinions and backgrounds. It is true campaigns were bruising, but all that is over and now is the time to serve all.
Great leaders always have great oratory skills. Whereas it is not necessary for you to speak with the eloquence of Barrack Obama or Winston Churchill, you never the less should be able to communicate correctly, coherently and effectively all the time in order to pass the correct message to the student body.
As I conclude, I wish to remind you that leadership is like construction work. It is a continuous activity. So, you must strive to shape your leadership skills continuously. Further, try to keep on the right side of the law. University Management operates an open door policy which places dialogue at the top of options to solve issues. Let us desist from disruptive methods. We are available all the time to handle your grievances so long as they are channeled the right way. You have no choice now. You have reached a point of no return. You have to work with management and the student body to ensure University programmes run uninterrupted for the benefit of all stakeholders. The following words based on Mother Theresa’s rephrased poem will drive the point home.
Students are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you utilize dialogue students may accuse you of being compromised. Explore dialogue anyway.
If you are honest, people may insult you. Be honest anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give Kibabii University the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end it is between you, God and the good of the University.
It was never between you and disruptive elements anyway.
May God bless and guide you throughout your tenure.