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Friday, August 30, 2013

Spare a thought for poor Uhuru

Guest post

It’s a tough job and someone has to do it!!

The mood was glum, the tension palpable. Those present at this meeting were trying their best to be upbeat but failing miserably none the less. We were here to make some tough decisions, elephantine in nature you might say, the kind of decisions that whatever the outcome it was going to backlash on us. The phase ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ took on a whole new meaning because, I was not at the periphery looking in, but right in the middle of the damn situation and I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t.

The usual agenda items were dispensed with in a routine manner, the usual exuberance and jocular manner replaced by a tense and somber mood obvious to all. Eyes were mostly cast down and not making eye contact with each other. The business of the day dispensed with, one of our own was politely asked to leave the meeting as whatever needed to be discussed touched on them personally and under corporate governance rules any interested party on whom a matter touched upon needed to absent themselves, either physical exclusion or by not participating in the deliberations.  Should the rest of us also have been asked to leave the meeting room, weren’t we after all interested parties in any case?

This was it, the diplomacy of previous weeks, the efforts to resolve the impasse, the misinformation and twisting of facts in the media that had preceded this meeting was now behind us, water under the bridge, we had arrived at a point of no return. It was crunch time and hard decisions needed to be made and the consequences of such decisions were weighty and rested on our shoulders. The buck literally stopped with us!

Were we really ready? Were we ready to plunge into this pool of unchartered waters, not sure what the currents of these turbulent waters and fate held in store for us? Were we ready to make a weighty decision on one of our own and others caught up in the aftermath? Uncertainty was writ large on the faces of several as the Chairman outlined the issues that had brought us there and what our role was going to be at the end of the day, a matter that had to be concluded one way or another however long we took.

The questions and comments began, hesitant at first but slowly taking on the desired momentum. A probing question here, a clarification there, a rehash of the documents of the company to see that all loopholes had been sealed and that we had done everything by the book, a query as to whether the recommending committee had been properly constituted. Was their recommendation unanimous? This was now getting serious and it appeared clear that this was but a tactic to draw out the decision making process as long as possible  because clearly no one was looking forward to moving to the next step!!

Were there any exit clauses? Did we have any options other than making the hard decisions? Could we postpone this for some time in the future, sleep over it perhaps? But no, this thing needed to be concluded and it needed to be finalized immediately because too much was at stake.........................!

The above is a personal narrative meant to show the depth of helplessness that confronts someone when a weighty decision has to be made. If this is what being a president means then the presidency is not something I can wish on even my worst enemy because day in day out it is a never ending rollercoaster of a ride. Just as you think you have stabilized the ship another rogue waves comes along and threatens to sink your vessel once again. Just as you think all the ducks are in a row, some other issue comes along and pushes them out of kilter. But this is the world of leadership, of decision making where hard decisions have to be made despite opposition to whatever decision you may make.

At the pinnacle of leadership in any organisation, in any country, in any situation the buck screeches to a halt in front of you and not in a methodical, slow tap on the brakes kind of way but in a bone jarring stand on the brakes kind of way!  It is an emergency however you look at it and some people could lose their livelihoods, others their sanity and still others their dignity whichever decision is taken. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It does not matter, how methodically you study the situation and look at it from all angles, at the end of the day the decision has to be made.

That is why, I think it is quite na├»ve and disingenuous that the majority of Kenyans see that the recently elected government of the day is not doing enough, and has been unable to meet its pledges and has been bedeviled with challenges ever since the president and his deputy were sworn in. This is the honeymoon period when all the sweet nothings mentioned as you wooed  the voters come back to haunt you because the structures are not in place, your detractors want to ensure that you do not succeed and as the structures of government are changing to the county system confusion and disorder rule the day.

So I posit that it is necessary to give our leaders sometime and cut them some slack so that they organise their business and get to understand the structures that oil the mechanisms that make things happen. This business of leadership is not easy and takes lots of commitment, spirit and guts and someone has to do it!

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