Educated Leaders and Do They Matter?
President Robert Mugabe, Courtesy AfriclandPost
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” by Abraham Lincoln
A man, who wants his family’s survival, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will not work always.
But a man, who wants his power to grow, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will always work because he knows how to do it.
There has been a study by Timothy Besley, Jose G Montalvo and Marta Reynal-Querol that used data on more than one thousand political leaders between 1875 and 2004 to investigate whether having more educated leaders affects economic growth rates. In regards to African countries they found that ‘a transition from a graduate leader to a graduate leader has no effect while a transition from a graduate to a non-graduate has a large negative and significant effect.’
Africa has been the focus of the world for economic purposes including everything from energy, resources, human capital and the role of democracy. However Africa is struggling to keep up with Western standards and while the recent Tanzanian President John Magufuli is chartering a new way of doing things, the rest of the continent is lagging behind in western standards. Maybe Africa needs to look inwards and because of its diverse culture and traditions, it needs to set its own standards and goals. However basic education should be a must no matter what.
When the Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko shared his KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exams results there was major uproar. Surely, a poor result in class will not result in any better score in running the County? Perhaps politics were at play because soon after the opposition’s candidate Governor Hassan Joho’s KCSE results were also under question. There is hope in Africa though, because according to an Internet poll, the world’s most educated president is none other than Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Yes he was a teacher in the beginning of his career, has a qualification in Economics, is a lawyer, masters from University of London’s external programme’s and has a BA from Fort Hare University in South Africa.
While the basics of your education need to be covered and if not high scorer the average is quite ok too. According to the super power, United States of America, a great president needs to have a compelling vision, wherewithal to implement this vision, focus on a few major goals at a time and understand the process and implications of decision-making. These are as per Michael Siegel, who has written the book- The President as Leader.
But what about experience, surely this should count too?
According to Gautam Mukunda of the Harvard Business Review, “if you choose an insider who you know can do the job well, most of the time that person won’t perform any differently from any other top candidate with lots of experience, I call them “filtered leaders”, they might be good, but not brilliant.” He goes on to say that it is the unfiltered leaders, the outsiders without lots of experience who perform the very best.
While Senator Mike Sonko may not be highly qualified, he drew inspiration and connected immediately with the people of Nairobi and won the hearts of the Nation. A great example of an unfiltered leader is the US President Abraham Lincoln, but you have to remember says Gautam “you can choose leaders who are likely to lead you to big wins or big losses, or you can choose leaders who will definitely be good at their job but almost certainly won’t be great.”
Thus, a good leader needs qualifications but a great leader needs to be an excellent communicator and negotiator. What is the point of having a leader in a powerful position who looks at either ‘hands’ for advise, he or she should be capable of taking the decision or choice with all ears, eyes and opinion open. Life is the biggest teacher and experience adds to the wisdom, degrees and qualifications only pile up in the brain’s cupboard as trophies, rarely to be used to make any real difference, honestly.