Pandemics are not for public shows
- The empathy and compassion currently needed in leadership do not at all fit in with the old habits of using a crisis for publicity.
- A pandemic is thus an opportunity for people to feel and witness leaders whose priorities are to ensure the provision of essentials without the obvious expectation of being remembered.
“Do not waste a crisis” is a common phrase used to encourage people grab an existing opportunity presented by a problem to do good.
It often refers to those who feel as though there’s not much they can do when tough seasons present themselves.
However, this particular phrase has been exploited by several people –those with some type of high standing in society – to seek publicity.
They’re the ones whose images are plastered all over the particular items they’re donating so as to show that they’re doing alleged good.
I call this alleged good because true charitable acts are always about the needy and nothing else.
The Guardian reported that researchers have been looking into why people donate and the explanations fall into three broad categories, from the purely selfless – I donate because I value the social good.
The “impurely” selfless – I donate because I extract value from knowing I contribute to the social good, and the “not at all selfless” – I donate because I want to show off how rich I am.
From these categories, we can already see where most Kenyan leaders whose acts of giving during the coronavirus period are categorised.
The ones who seem to not understand that, foremost, they were elected to serve and not run publicity charades especially in a pandemic.
True service is not a label. You can’t merely print it onto something because its much deeper than the individual.
True service is about the receiver other than the giver because often when people are in need, like they are now, the focus ought to be on them.
A pandemic is thus an opportunity for people to feel and witness leaders whose priorities are to ensure the provision of essentials without the obvious expectation of being remembered.
It is at this point that leaders who obsess over their personal branding on essential items learn from what other leaders are doing.
Those who are creating space to heed advice from a broader pool of thinkers, changing their operative models to suit the new challenges, putting people first in all their interventions and not making themselves the centres of attention.
This pandemic is creating an opportunity for new attitudes, behaviours and models of doing that require that the actions of leaders must also change.
The empathy and compassion currently needed in leadership do not at all fit in with the old habits of using a crisis for publicity.
These old ways of leading must be unlearned. Kenyan leaders must start to show imagination by demonstrating their capacity to evolve and exploit what leadership means in a moment of crisis.
Leaning on the familiar when everything that’s happening is nothing but familiar is a huge flaw.
Scheaffer Okore is a policy analyst;