The Qualities of Leaders We Need

Chris Dare🔥
2 min readNov 22, 2019

This is an article I wrote for the classes of 2020 and 2021 of Carnegie Mellon University in Africa. I decided to put this here on medium because I believe this piece of writing is one that anyone who has given the power to elect a leader need to consider in their decision-making. Let’s begin.

Hello Tartans,

We’re finally at that time of the year where it’s time to appoint student representatives to be at the helm of our affairs. As promised, I am sharing with you wisdom concerning the qualities of leaders we need. I’d been rethinking what I initially planned to share with you. Because, quite frankly, I felt some of these are things you have at least heard before. Also, I didn’t want to bombard you with large blobs of text. So I deleted the text I wrote here on Monday and rather asked myself, “If I had to mention one quality, what would it be?” I got my answer…but even for me, as the author of this text, it was not quite what I expected for two reasons. Let me mention what that quality is first, and then we can get to that:

The leaders we need ensure that they carry out the vision for progress

Here’s why it was a surprise to me: First, this is not really a quality but more of a characteristic. Secondly, I realized that it was less about the running candidates and more about you.

There’s a statement President Kagame made last month. I’d like to quote it because it’s very relevant to this characteristic/quality. He said:

“You don’t have to look to government and say government is not doing this, government is not good at doing this. But government is actually you,”

Government exist at various levels and in different organizations. Here at CMU, and in organizations you will build/work with, it will be no different. Government is you; you are a leader too and you need to carry out the vision for progress. When we finally choose from our fellow students to lead us by service in our guild, don’t leave them to do the work alone. That means supporting them, taking up responsibilities, challenging them in a wise and constructive manner when you think they are taking the wrong path…and more.

The moment you put someone in power, you have done them a favor (and not vice versa). In our context, you’ve given them something honorable to slap on a resume/CV, an opportunity for their self-improvement and/or some other things that will benefit them. Everything else that happens after is supposed to be about you. But don’t fold your arms to be just an observer or a critic. If that happens, we will lose productivity and never know we did! Whatever happens after you put people in power, I argue that you should see it as a responsibility to help them because that is helping you. Whether or not you will be recognized for your efforts, it will surely build you up and prepare you for something greater that’s ahead.