The bust of Sir Albert Henry, outside Cook Islands Christian Church in Avarua. 20022838
Leaders in 2021 who connect, who are compassionate and are teachable and led, are leaders who have the tools and vision to voyage us through the storms, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.
In a world like ours where traditional leaders are chosen
not because of their skills or ability to lead, but simply on bloodlines and
akapapa’anga, I guess it could be easy for us to use that same world view for
every other type of leader in our world, be they leaders of our families,
churches or government.
And why, I ask, are they leaders because of their title, or
should we judge them as leaders by their ability to lead and to make decisions
that benefit the many?
One needs only look to Samoa to see where power and
leadership are at odds, and where the potential succession of a new leader has
been greatly impacted by the incumbent.
That resistance for change is having an impact on everything
from the judiciary, the courts, the legislature – and the voter. Because when
we lead, our decisions will have an impact on all around us, for good or for
And if we believe that leaders are not born, they are made,
what are some of these qualities we should look for if leadership is the path
before us, and that we should apply to those that lead around us?
These five questions may add some reflection and guidance on
what we should be looking for in a leader, and why.
Does character outweigh talent? When it comes to leadership,
does your talent outweigh your character? Is who you are when no one is looking
more important and the decisions you make when no one is looking more important
than those made in public? King David is such a good example of a leader who
learned his trade not on the palace steps or courtyards, but in the fields,
away from the crowds and where the mundane was the gold because their
leadership potential was shaped and his character that would guide the season
of his life when he was king.
Is the gift in the grind? Do we miss the real learnings in
the mundane, the tired job in front of us, and the laborious tasks we avoid,
especially when the limelight is shining in another room or for another person?
Does life or work experience, the very act of going through challenging
experiences in your personal life or at work, have a transforming effect on
your potential leadership ability? Do you learn from the decisions you make,
and then make better ones? And do the
leaders you watch have an impact on you because service for us as Pasifika is
clearly defined as the pathway to true leadership?
Do we need a lifetime of learning? To grow as a leader,
should we develop the discipline of transforming “ah-ha” moments into a
commitment to practice what we have learned, and why we should not step away
from tough leadership opportunities, and failures, when instead we should
embrace them and learn from them?
Do I know my why? Will your “why” determine your kind of
leadership, the legacy you leave behind, and the future you build as you go?
It’s often said, When the going gets tough … it’s the tough that get going,
when actually it’s not the tough, it’s those that know their why that get
going. Because toughness can only take us so far while a deep sense of will
sail us through waters much deeper.
Does a leader need a leader? All leaders who have thrived
and flourished throughout history have seemed to have understood deeply that
they too are accountable and have placed themselves in submission, be it to
God, their constituency, country, conscience, or all three. Leaders, great
leaders that we so desperately need today, have known what it is also to be
led, and by that remain in a place of humility. And from humility flowed
empathy, and from empathy, compassion, and from compassion, deep and meaningful
Leaders in 2021 who connect, who are compassionate and are
teachable and led, are leaders who have the tools and vision to voyage us
through the storms.
And they are the heart to ensure no one is left behind, and
push our vaka through the swells and storms ahead.