Leadership: “As We Look Ahead Into The Next Century, Leaders Will Be Those Who Empower Others”
Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft
On that memorable eve of 14 October, 2006 the whole world witnessed the reward of another great human effort to lessen the sufferings of humanity by empowering others. On this day, a Bangladeshi professor, social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader Muhammad Yanus was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace for founding the Grameen Bank.
He saw that, across the world beginning from his native Bangladesh, the larger populations who are poor do not have the qualification to receive loans from banks to start their own business. He founded the Grameen Bank to empower these poor people to access loans to start their own small businesses and better their lives.
The Nobel Committee had this to say about Professor Yanus and the Grameen Bank, “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty…Yanus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development”. He had since then received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), Congressional Gold Medal (2010), Gandhi Peace prize (2006), among other prestigious awards.
The story of Professor Yanus and the Grameen Bank links closely with those of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and all who empower others across the world. They tell everyone, that humanity is currently at a different time. A time which Albert Einstein described in his words, ”we live for the sake of others”.
There was a time in human history when leaders were chosen from among the strongest of men. The warriors and the battle lords ruled and were highly respected. Then we had men like Cyrus of Persia, Hannibal, Julius Ceaser, Alexander the Great and nation’s empires/nations like Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, etc. Later we left that stage and came to the stage when knowledge alone distinguished men and technological advancement in military technology distinguished nations. We saw the rise of men like Albert Einstein, Alfred Nobel, and Thomas Edison.
Powerful nations like Britain, the USA, Germany, and Russia took the centre stage. But these times are far gone. Since the dawn of the new millennium, humanity had acquired a community setting, everyone is now everyone’s brother, sister, mother, father and neighbor. One nation’s challenge has become everyone’s challenge. Collective responsibility is now the nature of the relationship. It is only natural that humanity would reward only the people and nations who care enough to empower and lessen the sufferings of others.
Before now the world’s celebrities were only the movie stars, but the world today celebrates the entrepreneurs’ more-men and women who use their knowledge, talents and passion to solve the problems of humanity. Six months ago, at the Swiss Ski Resort in Davos, during the world economic forum annual meeting, the International Labour Organization predicted that global joblessness will rise by about 2.3 million this year (2016) to 199.4 million and that 1.1 million will be added to the global count in 2017, taking global joblessness to more than 200 million for the first time in record. This possesses a great challenge for everyone, especially for the African continent. At the same time, this provides a great opportunity for simple men and women to empower others by creating jobs.
Many young men and women have dreams and talent that keeps them awake all night. But all they require is the platform, a little help, a job and a little encouragement to see their dreams realized. Men and women, who make the realization of the dreams and aspirations of these young men and women their concern, would become the song in their mouths, their god, their destiny helpers and their leader.
The next century is shaped not by our sophistication in technology, advancement in science and wealth. It is shaped by the simple good gestures of simple men and women, nations and organizations towards empowering others. Only such men and women, organizations and nations would have the right to be called LEADERS. Wait for our third leadership series.