The Western Regional Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Charles Bissue has said an effective leader must has foresight, is self-confident, has strong communication and management skills, and is creative and innovative.
An effective leader perseveres in the face of challenges and is willing to take risks. He or she embraces change, and is level-headed and proactive in times of crisis, he said.
“There are different types of leadership styles. Some leaders have a dominant single style, while others use a combination of different styles in different situations. Commonly identified leadership styles include affiliative, authoritative, coaching, coercive, charismatic, democratic, innovative, command and control (or bureaucratic), laissez-faire, pacesetter (or transactional), servant, situational and transformational.
“However, the complexity of situations determines how effective each and every one can be. It is on the backdrop of this that we need to be schooled or guided to develop the right leadership skills so we can respond favourably to varying and challenging situations. The world today demands that we become innovative in solving problems and transforming lives with great impact to our organisations, community and the nation.”
Below is his full speech…
SPEECH AT SYMPOSIUM – GHANA LAW SCHOOL SRC CELEBRATION
I stand here today humbled for the invitation to address this intellectual community, the media and the public as part of this year’s Ghana School of Law SRC celebration week. When I read the topic, I said this invite must have been wrongfully addressed. I am grateful for the confidence reposed in me. I must emphasise that any leadership role that you find yourself in, give it your best shot because someone may be silently observing, and will send an invitation to address noble citizens like you, as I am about to. I find the topic for today’s engagement “The Relationship between Good Leadership and Corporate Governance” extremely intriguing, taking cognisance of current circumstances, and I hope all of you share similar perspectives.
The topic entails two broad and inter-connected concepts in organisational development: Leadership and Corporate Governance.
Leadership is pivotal to the success of an organisation. It restores balance, whiles aiming at enhancing performance and success. Most often, leaders shoulder the burden of demonstrating performance in keeping with principles of good corporate governance.
Before I advance my submission, let me explain what the two terminologies are.
Leadership: is the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to influence and guide followers or other members of an organization towards a desired objective, goal or agenda. Leadership involves making sound and sometimes difficult decisions, creating and articulating clear visions, establishing achievable goals and providing the followers with the required knowledge and tools that are necessary to achieve those goals. Permit me to emphasize that leaders are assertive and relevant in every sphere of our society.
An effective leader has foresight, is self-confident, has strong communication and management skills, and is creative and innovative. An effective leader perseveres in the face of challenges and is willing to take risks. He or she embraces change, and is level-headed and proactive in times of crisis.
There are different types of leadership styles. Some leaders have a dominant single style, while others use a combination of different styles in different situations. Commonly identified leadership styles include affiliative, authoritative, coaching, coercive, charismatic, democratic, innovative, command and control (or bureaucratic), laissez-faire, pacesetter (or transactional), servant, situational and transformational.
However, the complexity of situations determines how effective each and every one can be. It is on the backdrop of this that we need to be schooled or guided to develop the right leadership skills so we can respond favourably to varying and challenging situations. The world today demands that we become innovative in solving problems and transforming lives with great impact to our organisations, community and the nation.
Mahatma Ghandi, who is considered a servant leader, once said;
“A sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.”
This is also affirmed by Bill Gates, another servant leader, and I quote;
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
My philosophy is to nurture my mentees and followers to become better people and great leaders in the future. That should be our legacy!
[The Coventry Experience]
As students and future leaders, I urge you not to fall for the misconceptions that dim your confidence to lead. The saying that “not everyone is born a leader”, is the biggest fallacy to your self-actualisation. In correcting this, John C Maxwell avers that “everyone has a potential of becoming a better leader, as there are few we could count as great leaders. In truth, we are all leaders!
Transformational leadership style has proven to be one of the most effective styles of leadership. Leaders and their leadership style possess strong influence on the corporate sector and its overall working affairs. For instance, in politics, effective leadership is a benchmark for successful corporations as they follow the best strategies from the political setup and move towards productivity and efficiency.
This brings us to the subject of Corporate Governance.
There are several definitions to this concept, however, Donovan (2003) summarizes it all. According to him, Corporate Governance is an internal system encompassing policies, processes and people that serve the needs of shareholders, and other stakeholders, by directing and controlling management activities with expertise, objectivity and integrity. The emphasis on checks and control mechanisms, in safeguarding interests of shareholders and stakeholders, will not be sufficient, unless the people entrusted with the management of the organisation act objectively and with integrity. Cuevas-Rodriguez et al. (2012) avers that the foundation of corporate governance is built on trust and honesty, in a manner that creates the support and collaboration needed to hold each other accountable to governance standards.
Ladies and Gentlemen, soon, many of you will be readied for the corporate world. In your chosen profession/career, there exist standards, protocols, ethics, regulations etc, which will guide your conduct. You will serve two masters: upholding the integrity of the legal profession and the institution you work in. The Ghana Bar Association has been responsive in keeping its members in check, and has never hesitated to purge itself of the misconduct of some of its members. However, other professions have fewer and relatively weaker sanctions for members whose conduct impugns the integrity of the profession. Where a lawyer risk losing his/her licence for a misconduct, professional negligence etc, this might not be the case in other professions.
I’d like to challenge you to examine these scenarios in relation to other professions, identify the lapses and lead an advocacy for reforms.
Your training, here, is to equip you with the skills and knowledge to challenge the status quo, and become the transformational leaders for tomorrow. I am glad the SRC chose this subject for its first symposium.
In recent developments, and especially following the banking sector clean-up, the concept of corporate governance and leadership has become vital across industries. It has become a must-have and a sine qua non for meaningful growth and economic development. Some business executives and board members, by virtue of their positions and influence, exploited resources of the organisations they serve but in breach of the Companies Act 2019 (Act 992) and other industry-related regulations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my experience at the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), as its secretary got me to uncover some fictitious entities created in the small-scale mining sector. The Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), as amended by the Minerals and Mining Act 2015 (Act 900) and related regulations, makes small-scale mining a preserve of Ghanaians but that provision was totally defied. We had Ghanaians fronting for non-citizens and, worse, causing irreparable devastation to our land and water resources.
Where was the show of leadership, citizenship and sense of responsibility?
The checks were weak, and the country was losing out on revenue. It took leadership, innovation and technology to correct the canker, and deter its recurrence.
May I digress to emphasize a critical but related matter to the subject by provoking your thoughts about the most controversial ‘Missing Excavators’ saga. Hundreds of mining and earth moving equipment used in illegal mining operations were confiscated by the IMCIM Taskforce in the process of sanitizing the small-scale mining sector. Majority of these illegal miners whose equipment were confiscated, failed to provide evidence of ownership to support their claims. Anyone who was able to prove ownership had his or her equipment released. As lawyers, I am sure you are aware of the principle of legal possession and legal ownership.
Example: In Sarpong Vrs Jantuah (J4 15 of 2015)  GHASC 4, the plaintiff claimed ownership of a property because he was the sub-lessee of the property and the true owner did not come forward to claim it. The defendant holds the title deeds to the property but the plaintiff continued to argue that he was not the true owner.
The court held that the defendant leased the property to a third party who thereafter sub-leased the property to the plaintiff. As a result, the plaintiff could not claim to be owner in possession because he was not truly owner in possession. The defendant satisfied the court and discharged the burden of proving they own the property.
The seemingly weak nature of leadership and corporate governance in our public institutions, where certain parochial interests precede obligations and the lack of adherence to the oath of service to the state, is the reason the government loses millions of Ghana Cedis each year.
Year on year, our beloved country loses billions of Ghana Cedis not only to corruption but also as a result of the negligence and non-compliance to procedures and regulations by persons entrusted with leadership positions. The Auditor General’s Reports provide evidence of such wrongs and weaknesses in our corporate governance system. Could we have avoided this?
Megan Ngwube (2013) posits that good corporate governance is underpinned by; a working board; transparency; whistle blowing, power decentralization; formal and periodic evaluation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Directors; strong market institutions; external regulation and monitoring; disclosure of compensation policies and practices; open and well-implemented conflict of interest policy; and candour between executives of a firm and the staff.
The cost for not adhering to these principles undermines the financial and operational performance of an organisation, weakens investor interest, and the fight against corruption. As witnessed with the banking sector clean-up and other reforms undertaken by the government, bad corporate governance negatively affects the macro-economy of the country. The GHC21 billion that was expended in this exercise came at a huge cost to government. This amount could have been used for some other productive enterprises, if the tenets of good corporate governance and leadership were upheld.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in as much as some corrective measures have been introduced, particularly in the banking and financial sector, there remains some topical and cross-cutting issues that must be addressed. The following are thorny issues considered to enhance corporate governance.
- Better Boards and Diversity
I would like to quote Stephen M. Wallensteing of the Duke University, in a webcast on Emerging Trends in Corporate Governance: “One of the great challenges, these days, may be that something like a third of the new directors on public company boards are first-time directors. And it’s a huge responsibility for them to try to understand the business of the company and, at the same time, all the risks.’”
We still have not gotten our grips on defining and refining competency matrices to determine eligibility in composing boards. Yes, it could be very challenging in our part of the world, given the political nature of our appointments.
- Strategy and Value Creation
Just as emphasized earlier, an indication of a good board is its ability to be strategic and value-oriented in decisions offered to the entity they represent. Complacent or inexperienced Boards, incapable of directing an under-performing, ineffective, or inefficient management team, are being questioned.
[Cite DVLA, GIHOC, NPA, GhanaGas, GNPC]
Strongly tied to the performance of the Board is the growing interest by the public, and especially the media, of how much is paid as compensations for board directors of public organisations. This has caused some organisations to realign and justify their performance and compensation policies.
In 2021, the Auditor General reported of a GHC12.8 billion in financial irregularities from public corporations. The figure shot up from GH¢5.4 billion in 2019 to GH¢7.3 billion in 2020 alone, representing a 135 per cent jump. The Auditor-General attributed the rising cases of financial irregularities to poor oversight responsibility and non-existent controls. This is a symptom of weak leadership among boards of state institutions. It was not surprising the media and the public questioned the relevance of these boards amid these recurring financial losses.
- Technology and Governance
Fortunately for us the government, through its digitization drive, has integrated digital technologies into the systems and operations of state organisations to monitor, control and enhance performance. Admittedly, there is more to be done to ensure greater accountability and counter fraud, not only with public institutions but in private entities. And the list continues…
Internalizing Good Leadership and Corporate Governance
Though leadership and governance have independent meanings, both in literature and practice, there is a two-way link between them. Each complements the other to guarantee success. Strong leadership contributes to effective governance. The structures, systems, principles, protocols, checks and control mechanisms, within an organisation, define the potency of its governance structure which, relatedly, directs leadership to conform or comply.
In furthering this discussion, let’s consider these inter-related principles between leadership and governance, as identified by the UNDP;
- Participation and Inclusion: The degree of participation and inclusion of members, in a decision-making process, excites a culture of responsibility and ownership for success. It fosters a spirit of camaraderie which is vital for good governance to prevail. A great leader understands and shares his limitations and draws on the collective effort of others to produce results. Participation and inclusion can build trust and strengthen relations that pave way for good governance.
- Equity and Consensus Building: There should not be any form of segregation, discrimination or classism entertained in any corporate organisation. Men, women, young or elderly, should have the same rights and opportunities prevailing in the organisation. It builds respect and confidence. That same spirit engenders consensus-building in arriving at workable solutions to problems.
- The Rule of Law: This emphasizes the need for compliance to statutory provisions related to the organisation and other frameworks. Being effective as a leader requires a good understanding of the laws, regulations and standards that ought to be satisfied. An organisation pays a huge price for being non-conformist.
- Transparency and Responsiveness: The key to transparency is giving others, in the organization, the information and the ability to influence by offering ideas and demonstrating responsibility. Good governance envisages transparency in decision-making, implementation and easy availability of relevant information. It also makes it dutiful to responding to needs and concerns expressed by stakeholders; both internal and external.
The others include; Strategic Vision, Accountability, Effectiveness and Efficiency.
In conclusion, I wish to quote J.F Kennedy and I quote; “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”, and, so, you must be receptive to criticisms, embrace your shortcomings and work at improving your capacity and self. As agents of change for a Ghana Beyond Aid, you have no excuse to repeat the same shortcomings in your various institutions. You are equipped with the knowledge and skill to penetrate the market and impact society.
Roman 3:15-19 says; “Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
I pray you, that God be your fortress when others attempt to disrupt your progress as leaders. Take counsel in this holy scripture.
Let’s make Ghana proud.