MDYOMBA CHE AMBUTE
Please stop reading this right now if you think this is another tippex and Madando article – you’re definitely not the target audience.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson may be under fire, but she’s one of the strongest leaders in the country. In the midst of the opposition (Malawi Congress Party and United Transformation Movement), continuing efforts to force Justice Dr. Jane Ansah SC to step down, not to mention the media circus surrounding it, it’s important to recognize that the Supreme Court of Appeal Judge is also a very strong leader.
It could be argued that it’s difficult for anyone to truly lead today’s highly independent society. While some visionaries like His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) do inspire a loyal following, they are the exception, and many leaders today seem to be crowd pleasers instead of trendsetters, especially in politics and business.
Jane Ansah, however, bucks this trend with a defiant and dynamic style that transcends her leadership and ‘politics’:
Don’t let critics derail you.
It’s debatable whether Ansah should have ordered a recount of the disputed results as originally demanded by MCP, but that doesn’t justify the hysteria over the issue or change the fact that much of the fuss is politically motivated. But that is where leaders shine the brightest, resisting sensationalist forces and remaining focused on their objectives. Despite the ordeal that she is being subjected to, Ansah seems determined not to let it derail her job as MEC Chairperson.
As a leader, you need to be thick-skinned and able to withstand even the most unfair criticism without letting it hamper your aims or ability to do your job. History ultimately judges you on your performance, not on how well you weathered a media cycle.
Reject gender roles.
Today’s political and business landscape is populated by some examples of strong women who have defeated the odds. These include Honorable Catherine Gotani Hara (Malawi’s first female Speaker), Justice Anastasia Msosa, former President Dr. Joyce Banda, Martha Chizuma (The Ombudsman) and Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) director Atuweni Juwayeyi-Agbermodji . But despite sharing some core qualities of leadership with these women, Jane Ansah has defined her own style of leading that is defiantly gender neutral.
While the MEC Chair is a vocal proponent of gender equality, she also defies stereotypes, preferring to simply do the best job possible in any situation without seeing the world (or allowing the world to see her) through the prism of gender. As Malawi moves towards greater equality, that is a crucial and potent leadership trait. The best leaders of tomorrow will not be men or women but the most qualified and capable professionals who transcend gender altogether.
Masile Une Wawo,
Mdyomba Che Ambute.