Leaders vs Followers


Solo and Dessy, childhood friends, agree that leadership mirrors the society it governs. Leaders come from or are elected by the people; thus, they are as virtuous or flawed as those they lead or those who chose them. Through their discussions, they explore how leaders and citizens work together to build a fairer and more successful society.

Dessy strongly believes that leaders in developing countries bear a significant responsibility to formulate effective policies and drive positive change. Occupying positions of power and authority, leaders have access to information, resources, and decision-making abilities that regular citizens do not have. Competent and visionary leadership can play a crucial role in initiating and implementing reforms, addressing systemic issues, and steering the country's development.

Solo, on the other hand, argues that citizens and followers play an equally important role in this process. A country's development is not solely the responsibility of its leaders, it requires active engagement, participation, and support from the citizenry. Citizens can provide valuable input, feedback, and grassroots-level understanding that can inform policy decisions. They must hold leaders accountable, advocate for change, and participate in the democratic process.

In many developing countries, there is a history of top-down, authoritarian approaches to governance, where leaders make decisions with limited public consultation or participation. This often leads to policies that fail to address the real needs and concerns of the people. Meaningful citizen involvement through mechanisms like civil society organizations, community-based initiatives, and democratic processes can help ensure that development efforts are more responsive to the population's needs and aspirations.

Citizens often refuse to be compelled into doing the right thing because leadership by example is missing in such countries. Leaders have become demigods who seek worship, living luxurious lifestyles. They fail to provide the people with a sense of direction, being more concerned with their own needs and forgetting their duty to serve the masses who pay their salaries.

Furthermore, the success of any system or country ultimately depends on the active engagement and cooperation of its citizens. Leaders can enact policies, but the actual implementation and impact of those policies rely heavily on the willingness and participation of the people. Citizens contribute to development by adhering to laws, paying taxes, participating in community projects, and actively contributing to the growth and progress of their country. Nevertheless, ensuring that citizens are law-abiding is the responsibility of leaders, who have the power to enforce laws. For example, if leaders ensure that people have toilets in their homes and there are accessible public toilets, they have the right to punish those who attend to nature's call at the beaches.

In conclusion, while leaders have a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of a developing country, the partnership and involvement of citizens and followers are equally essential. It's a symbiotic relationship where both leaders and citizens must work together, with mutual understanding and shared responsibility, to drive sustainable and inclusive development.

Yes, the citizens are often as flawed as their leaders. However, if we look within, we can identify a few individuals who are competent, selfless, and visionary. There are still those who are result-oriented, hungry for success, and capable of leading their people. We cannot equally fault both leaders and followers; the question remains: why is the citizen paying the leader?

Desmond John Beddy