Everyone from Simon Sinek to Socrates will tell you at some point that leaders have to be humble and listen and seek help. While they are right and their advice is excellent, few leaders listen. Why? Because most leaders value self-interest first and foremost.

A couple of weeks ago I posted this tweet:

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It is based on a lesson that I learned back at the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. A dictator in West Africa had embarked on the most comprehensive HIV and AIDS programme in the region, including free treatment and medical support. Most were astounded and even asked, “why would you do this?”
“It is simple,” he replied. “There is not point being a dictator, if there is no country to be a dictator of.”

His dictatorship never lasted of course. But his lesson stays with me to this day.

Whether you are a head of government, a head of local authority, head of a community or head of a business or organisation, you have to be a servant.

This was demonstrated again just recently, with Jacinda Ardern’s landslide victory in the New Zealand polls. Rewarded for demonstrating exceptional leadership during the pandemic, Ardern’s Labour Party has secured sufficient seats to rule alone. The first time this has happened since the introduction of New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional representation system in 1993.

Like Prime Ministers, whose only job is to ensure the integrity, stability, equity and affluence of the countries entrusted to their care, social impact leaders have a responsibility to ensure the relevance, cohesion, effectiveness, equity and sustainability of social impact for those who will benefit from it.

Be a servant, first.


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