There’s an air of change in politics, it isn’t subtle and it demands certain attention even from those who claim indifference. Without doubt, political leaders’ beliefs inform and shape policymaking, and have an impact on the economic and development trajectory of a country. But our recent past shows clearly the lack of real vision, commitment, clarity and purpose.
The influx of new and independent entrants who are highly competent in mainstream politics deserves larger consideration. To me, it signifies that showcasing tired voices of the past shall not be enough to win votes this time. The profound shift in the way we are experiencing new leaders, I feel, is also a movement toward greater authenticity, diversity, courage and compassion, and a real engagement with the voter and voter aspirations.
As I watch Mayor Balen’s leadership unfold in a system that wants to deter, restrict and fail him, I see in him a rebel form of leadership, one that is focused on achieving his goals irrespective of what or who stands in his way. This strongly resonates especially with the young population because we are living in a world that is undergoing rapid, unpredictable and unprecedented change, one that the old system fails to recognise.
Balen became a household name not because he subscribes to the ‘hero’ image, he resonates because he is open and he believes in walking the talk, and he inspires. He isn’t just a person disrupting for the sake of disruption. He is unravelling the threads of corruption that have tied society into numb inaction.
Personally, I have learnt three major lessons from observing his leadership. One, you cannot please everyone. When you make hard decisions as a leader, there will be many who will stand in your way, many who will be angered, and many who will tarnish you. To stay focused on your goal requires you to cut out the noise. Two, leadership is a lone journey. The very people who are supporting you today, may not do so tomorrow. It doesn’t matter as long as you remain undeterred in walking the path to a greater good. He is decisive and incisive. Three, you will make mistakes but the fear of making a mistake should not stop you from your endeavours. It is evident that he is not afraid to fail. Better still, he has the capacity and the willingness to learn and transform.
As we go to polls, we must remember that there are huge gaps in capacities and resources for many independent candidates. We must also remember not all leadership legacies are bad. And we need to remember that our vote will determine the quality of leadership in government and it is this capacity that will affect policy and change.