Professor Jonathan Jansen on true leadership

Posted on February 13, 2014

In his address, ‘Nearness as an approach to solving human wrongs’, Prof Jansen spoke about the key qualities to which leaders should aspire. He noted that leadership is often mistaken for toughness. This misconception is pervasive on the African continent and creates more problems than it solves.

Prof Jansen said that leadership must be about being close to the people whom one leads. Those who are led would be more understanding if a leader showed closeness, even when things are not going well. Good leadership should be about being empathetic, allowing oneself to feel what those whom her or leads, feel. Being accessible is a very important quality for leaders because that is why people appoint them or elect them into office. True leadership, he said, requires listening more than talking. Prof Jansen emphasised that proper leadership involves paying attention not only to those who are succeeding in society but even more so to those in need. True leadership is about sacrifice and not about self-enrichment.

The 2014 master’s group consists of 13 women and 13 men from 15 African countries. The students were admitted to the programme after a very intensive selection process.

Since it was launched in in 2000, the programme has yielded 402 graduates form 42 countries. These alumni are employed in academia, civil service, national and international non-governmental organisations, and international organisations such as the African Union and the United Nations.

The programme is funded by the European Union, the German Academic Exchange Services and the Open Society Foundation and benefits indirectly from funding from the Flemish Delegation and the Norwegian Government.

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