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5 leadership skills former President Kufuor wants you to have

As the founder of the John Kufuor Foundation for Leadership, Governance, and Development the former President has one objective – to invest his experiences as a public servant of good standing in the African youth.

As the founder of the John Kufuor Foundation for Leadership, Governance, and Development the former President has one objective – to invest his experiences as a public servant of good standing in the African youth.


He told sections of Ghanaian youth at the joint Joy FM and DreamOval Thought programme held at his residence in August that he has found out that “everybody wants development.” This, he says is the heartbeat of Africans yet he has realised that to “get development we must have a good leadership” and when you have a “leadership who cares that you can have good governance.”

Leadership, Governance, and Development represent the miracle to Ghana’s development and by extension Africa’s development. We have gleaned some leadership attributes the former President would want the youth in Africa to know.  

He puts it clearer when he says “For our youth to aspire to lead our country, they must acquire knowledge to do so.”

#1. Be mission-driven

It is not for mere creative effects that companies take the pain to draft a mission statement. That statement with varying length serves as the guide for the companies. It shapes the action of the top brass as well as the behavior of the employees. It defines a company that has it and sets it apart from others. Your life as an individual should not be different. You need a mission to drive you to success. Without a mission and what Rick Warren termed a “purpose driven life” you will lose out and end up becoming who you don’t want to be.

The attitude of the many Christian Missionaries who left their place of comfort to bring what they believed was the “good message” to our forefathers is instructive. Recounting that, the former Ghanaian leader says many of them knew they were coming to die because of the scores of death caused by malaria yet they embraced the odds. They remained focus and true to their mission and today Christianity has taken root in the country. He wondered if the Christian youth have taken the pain to learn the history of the religion in Ghana. He was unequivocal that “This is the sense I believe the youth of Africa should have. With this attitude, we will transform our nation and continent in no time at all.”

#2. Be honest with yourself and others

Being honest remains a riskier thing to do especially with the way the world celebrates persons who use the backdoor to attain their riches. Suddenly, they have all they ever wanted in life without breaking a sweat and you feel you’ve lost the battle while the war is being fought. Small and dubious stuff are enticing. It is easy to take the shortcut than follow through on the main road but the public life of President Kufuor proves otherwise.

Even when the odds are against you, he teaches honesty with your beliefs and others. Open up to yourself and others. Narrating circumstances that led to the decision to opt for the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative that saw 8 billion of Ghana’s debt written off by the international community, the former Ghanaian leader says he remained honest and clean.

He met the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF), Horst Kohler, at a conference in Bamako, Mali 2001 when he had taken over the rein of Ghana. Painting a picture of the nation at the time he took over, Mr Kufuor says “Ghana’s exchequer was empty and the economy very flat on its face.”

He says Mr Kohler told him to disclose the real challenges facing the Ghanaian economy to the international community and assured him that if he remained true to his words the IMF would back him to develop the country. He was initially suspcious but decided to go for the kill. Even though Mr Kufuor admitted the HIPC initiative wasn’t a popular move, he says the “German IMF boss was true to his word and immediately connected to me.” Be honest to others no matter the situation.

#3. Decision making should be inclusive

The world has moved on from the period when decisions are taken using the top-down approach. The failure of the Britton wood institutions to navigate the economies of Africa to attain the development characteristic of Western countries has tainted the hitherto sacrosanct, boardroom approach. Decisions taken today are dialogic and participatory. They are inclusive taking into account the views of everyone concerned. You may not be happy with this type especially when you are an iconoclast.

With his experience, former President believes true transformation can only take place in Ghana and Africa when governance and leadership are inclusive. The kind that says even though we might not agree on this decision, yet your view is relevant to the overall decision making. Perhaps his quote may be instructive that “You cannot hope to transform Africa without first transforming the life of individual Africans by involving them in whatever you do.”

#4. You must show care for others if you want to lead them

It is very common to elect people who are disconnected from the everyday life of ordinary Ghanaians. They have no knowledge about the nightmares of the people and this is often seen in the way they implement unpopular policies that help only the middle and upper classes in the society. It is to correct this anomaly that society has given birth to that his suggestions to youth has always involved what he termed knowing the “real backwaters of Ghana.”

He says “The foundational thought is that for our youth to aspire to lead our country and transform it they must know the country. You must know the challenges confronting the people of Ghana.” Ghana is blessed as a nation with resources [a normal refrain] but “not all of us are privileged some are living in very worrying situations.” His advise has been for the youth to show care to one another in the society. He says if you are privileged to have been born in a good home, do not maltreat those who are less privileged.

#5. Get to know your talent and exploit to the fullest

Fortunately, he doesn’t share in the crap that some people were born with talents and others not. He says all the people he met especially those from unimpressive backgrounds identified their talents and maximized them for their success in life. He was forthright when he said, “get to know what your talents are and exploit them.”

He says it is important for you to know that wherever you are “always know you are there to make your life better.” This could be smartly done when you are confident and refuse to sweat the small stuff. You were designed for greatness and the youth must desist from activities that cause them to lag behind in the world.

I am personally confident the youth of Ghana and Africa can get so much done than the current generation if they refuse to buy into stale corruption in the continent’s body politic. Like in the past, Africa needs patriotic citizens who will push the interest of the unborn generation while meeting their own needs in whatever they do. You can do that and I can. Let us remain true to our ideals.

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