In November 1998, Institute for National Transformation (INT) Uganda was launched with the goal of creating awareness among both leaders and citizens in the country regarding matters to do with their responsibility towards national transformation. Since then, several hundred people have undergone the “OAK SEED” Executive Leadership Program (OSELC) training. There are a growing number of people committed to ensuring that their lives make a difference in their lifetimes in the various spheres that they have a passion for.
The OSELC program awakens a burden in the participants to see African nations move out of the stagnation of the past fifty years and join the path of national development and growth. It, however, does much more than. It helps participants identify the societal sphere that they are naturally passionate for and guides them to identifying something they can do to make a difference in that sphere and write out a project in that regard. In the six-month engagement, participants are required to read and discuss five textbooks that cover: an overview of the recent history of African nations, the recent history of Singapore, proven principles of breaking of mediocrity, skills for negotiating for a better future, changes needed in approaching societal challenges, and a vision for a better society. Participants are guided through a process of articulating their personal visions and missions for life in one of the societal spheres. The academic content is designed to challenge participants to think about the major challenges we face as a continent and the possible solutions. An integral part of the facilitation approach is to promote learning through interaction between participants and facilitators. Movies are used to enhance the learning experience.
As the pace of change across the world accelerates, it is evident that the years ahead will unfold a world that is completely different from that of current and past generations. Africa is experiencing accelerated social change. During the period of colonialism and the Cold War, democracy tended to make way for strong states as an expression of power. The new freedoms afforded by the triumph of liberal economics have caused resurgence in the discussion of the concept of leadership in Africa. The countries that have benefited from enlightened leadership have experienced superior development.
It has been empirically shown that irrespective of culture, gender, age, and other variables when leaders are at their personal best there are certain core practices common to all. Among these are that they model the way to their followers, inspire a shared vision of the future, challenge the status quo while enabling their followers to act, and provide the needed encouragement to followers. Universal facilitators of effective leadership have been identified as being trustworthy, just, and honest [being credible]; having foresight and planning ahead [being visionary]; being positive, dynamic, encouraging, motivating, and building confidence [empowering followers]; and, being communicative, informed, a coordinator, and team integrator [being interactive]. These attributes are addressed during OSELC.
Our societies across the continent desperately need leaders that will serve and nurture their communities. With the fastest growing population in the world, it is extremely important and urgent that current and future generations of leaders in Africa across the different spheres of the society, possess the requisite leadership and quality management competencies necessary to lead their nations, communities, and organizations out of the present challenges and into a more competitive and productive future.
If our nations are to sustain the gains made in more recent years, one thing is clear: there must be an exponentially increasing pool of leaders across the societal strata practicing leadership that is committed to serving the African people: credible, global and multiculturally minded, foresighted, possessing a systems thinking mindset, and proactive in planning. Only then can the next 50 years hold out the promise of significant improvements in the lives and livelihood of millions of Africans. INT is playing a part in increasing that pool of leaders.
I look forward to seeing you in the next INT class.
Dr. James Magara
Deputy Director General
Institute for National Transformation