Posts Tagged ‘kenyan elections’

Kenyan Leadership Contest: How to WIN or LOSE graciously

Kenya is headed to it’s most important election ever in her short 50 yr history of nationhood. Electioneering is in high gear and every politicians is doing all they know to position themselves for an opportunity to be in the new season of leadership. However, some will make and some of them will not make it.

With that in mind, it was very helpful when one of my mentors, Tim Mwangi, Co-ordinator of the Executive Leadership Network (ELNET) www.elnetkenya.org,  sent me an email to forward to family and  friends who are vying for various elective positions across the nation. I would like to share the same with you. It details two ways that we can share with our candidates to prepare for life after the elections – whether they win or lose. Do feel free to share it with them.

But as for us, the article will hopefully help us clarify our thinking and expectations –whatever the outcome. Please take time to reflect on it – even in the busyness of this campaigning  time. And before I forget, the article was written by Dr. Katherine Wanjiru Getao (https://twitter.com/KatherineGetao) Enjoy the read and hopeful you will have a take out or two.

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HOW TO WIN GRACIOUSLY 

Today’s philosophy exhorts us to focus on winning and not even dare to contemplate the possibility of failure. Winning is the world’s greatest achievement and most of us want it because it attracts the type of applause and adulation that many of us secretly crave.

Winning is a great test of character. We talk about people being “drunk with power” because the feeling of euphoria that comes from realizing that you are popular, accepted, chosen and awarded the highest honours and position will easily rush to your head and destabilize you. Vanity and other sins such as lust and greed stalk the winner. Winners will attract false friends – people who wish to exploit your success for their own selfish, and maybe even corrupt, ends.

It is right to always strive to win, but it is wise to make a small plan for yourself describing how you will react should the desired happen – a sort of “winning in winning” map. Here is a suggested map to help you retain your dignity, reputation and character during a win.

Resolve in advance to be a wise winner.

Flags and banners are flying. Cheers and shouts of triumph fill the air. It is easy to forget that alongside the celebrants, there are many who are defeated and disappointed and who feel they have little hope for the future. It is your responsibility to reach out to the ‘losers’ and convince them that, with a person of your character, they too have achieved a win. The greatest leaders are the ones who are able to communicate a collective win that not only encompasses their supporters but also those who have previously opposed them.

Prepare a gracious statement in advance

All eyes are upon you and all ears are sensitive to your tiniest message. Try to remember that microphones will leap towards the winner in the hope of capturing an off the cuff statement for publication. In the heat of the excitement, it is easy to say something unwise – and remember you  will not enjoy listening to a repetitive news broadcast of a comment that you subsequently regret; To counter this keep your beige (win) and pink (lose) statements close to you. Read from these scripts when appropriate. Your priority must be to maintain your reputation by appearing to be a statesman/woman of mature, upbeat, of exemplary character and patriotic beliefs.  A brief statement with four elements will fit the bill for this purpose: acknowledge the contribution of your team towards the successful result, thank all the people who have been involved in the process whether administrators, supporters or rivals and pledge to work with everyone, briefly state the key things you plan to achieve in the near future, reassure your opponents that you intend to serve everyone with fairness. There are many apt quotations which you can find on the Internet that will fit this kind of statement.

Manage your team

A candidate is usually supported by a team which will be excited by the win. Your efforts to start on a positive note will be complicated if the team reacts inappropriately towards your win. It is important that you take charge of your team and convince them to adopt a wise strategy.  You keep your team members focused on delivery of your key policies and to adopt a communication strategy that will avoid gaffes.

Plan the first hundred days.

The most challenging part of your win will be managing the expectations. There will be many things to learn and many issues to deal with. At the same time supporters may be in a frame of mind to make unreasonable demands and there will be many people who feel that you ‘owe’ them and that it is time to collect. The broad blueprint of how you will go about achieving your aims should have been drawn up long in advance as well as the structure of your team. However, more information will flow to you once you win and so it is important to listen and to allow some flexibility in the detailed plan. You must exercise leadership to ensure that you are not derailed from the higher purpose by the demands of expediency.

Maintain a trustworthy accountability group.

Everyone is a friend to a winner or a leader. It is difficult to separate the sycophants and manipulators from people who can genuinely be of value in your work. Maintain a trustworthy group of individuals who you can trust to listen to you and to keep your secrets as an important part of your life, and you should make time for them long before your hour of need! Identify who these people are: a spouse, parent or child, a close friend, respected peers, your spiritual advisor or a trained counselor can all be appropriate outlets and good sounding boards during this challenging season. You can also make pacts in advance with these people that they will be honest with you and discourage you from vanity, megalomania and other negative attitudes and behaviours and constantly re-direct you to an attitude of humility and a determination to achieve the higher purpose.

Make time for activities that will help you manage your emotions.

Make a list of the things that you really enjoy doing and budget time and resources to do them. It is especially helpful to look for activities that help you put things in perspective, adopt a grateful attitude and make use of your considerable talents. This is the right time to offer more to your favourite charity than you ever have in the past! Keep busy doing the right thing and you will reap the rewards.

Trust in your greatest supporter: God

I have saved the best for last. For those of you who read the Bible, Psalm 20 is an example of the prayer for a person who has experienced a victory.  While expressing joy and good wishes, writer of the Psalm directs the victorious towards God who is the source of all success. He cautions the winner not to rely on the external trappings of his success but instead to give the credit to God. Turning to God, reading scripture and praying to Him are sources of great wisdom and sound guidance. It is wise to remember that a specific win is a stopover rather than a destination. Assure yourself of God’s love for you through the journey by reading scriptures such as Psalm 139; Psalm 44:3-8; 1 John 5: 1- 5; 1 Kings 3: 5-15; Proverbs 2; Proverbs 4; Ecclesiastes 9: 13-18; Luke 2:52; James 1: 2- 8.

HOW TO LOSE GRACIOUSLY

Today’s philosophy exhorts us to focus on winning and not even dare to contemplate the possibility of failure. The wisdom is that we program ourselves to win or lose by our thoughts and words. Indeed an Internet search around the phrase “how to lose” gives the impression that the only thing that humans should consider losing is weight! However, when it comes to events such as elections and appointments, we know that for every winner there will be several losers in the wings. It therefore seems reasonable to prepare for loss as carefully as we strive to win.

 There is no doubt that loss is one of the hardest circumstances for a human being to overcome. When one strives to achieve a goal she invests her desires, hopes and plans while exposing her reputation and character to public scrutiny. She also puts in a lot of time, money, energy and opportunity cost (the things laid aside in order to invest in the desired goal.) Loss, therefore, is exactly what it is called.

To the loser it may appear that the resources put into achieving the goal have been wasted forever. With the loss come feelings of disappointment, rejection, anger and even despair. All the Kübler-Ross stages of grieving including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are likely to be experienced by the loser. By preparing for loss, a person can first of all understand the emotional upheaval that they will experience, behave appropriately during each stage of recovery, and shorten the time it takes to reach acceptance.

 It is right to always strive to win, but it is wise to make a small plan for yourself describing how you will react should the unthinkable happen – a sort of “winning in loss” map. Here is a suggested map to help you retain your dignity, reputation and character during a loss.

Resolve in advance to accept the results.

For the ambitious characters who strive to win against the odds, losing will always be a tremendous shock and disappointment. There is a strong temptation to challenge the results and violently oppose the decision. There are very few cases where such a reaction is justified. Remember that while the press and other controversy-seekers will encourage and enjoy such a reaction, many of the people whom you really respect will be inwardly disgusted by your behavior and will think less of you for it. It is therefore wise to train your character in advance and make a wise decision to accept the result, so that even if you are tempted you will not react in such a way as to lose not only the competition, but also the respect of your friends.

Prepare a gracious statement in advance

Try to remember that microphones will leap towards the loser in the hope of capturing an off the cuff statement for publication. In the heat of negative emotions, it is easy to say something unwise – and remember you  will not enjoy listening to a repetitive news broadcast of a comment that you subsequently regret; To counter this keep your beige (win) and pink (lose) statements close to you. Read from these scripts when appropriate. Your priority must be to maintain your reputation by appearing to be mature, upbeat, of exemplary character and patriotic beliefs. If you are not the winner at this time at least you can deliver the wisdom of a statesman/woman.  A brief statement with two elements will fit the bill for this purpose: congratulate the winner and offer your support to him or her, thank your supporters and encourage them about the future. There are many apt quotations which you can find on the Internet that will fit this kind of statement.

Manage your team

A candidate is usually supported by a team which is equally determined to succeed. Your efforts to manage the loss will be complicated if the team reacts inappropriately to what has happened. It is important that you take charge of your team and convince them to adopt a wise strategy.  You need to understand your team members and plan how to lead them successfully through your loss. Include messages for loss in your team communication strategy and ensure that your team adheres to them strictly.

Plan to re-direct your energy.

Loss has side-effects. There will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm that has now lost its immediate channel. There may also be other impacts of the loss, such as debt, problems with family, friends and supporters and so on. The impacts of the loss may seem overwhelming. By deciding to make a coherent plan to deal with each of the impacts of the loss, while also choosing alternative worthwhile activities, it will be possible to use the energy released by the loss in a positive way to solve problems and move towards a better future.

Maintain a trustworthy support group.

It is inevitable that you will experience negative feelings and thoughts in the wake of your loss. You may feel that many people are laughing at you, and you may feel tempted to withdraw from contact with others. Maintain a trustworthy group of individuals who you can trust to listen to you and to keep your secrets as an important part of your life, and you should make time for them long before your hour of need! Identify who these people are: a spouse, parent or child, a close friend, respected peers, your spiritual advisor or a trained counselor can all be appropriate outlets and good sounding boards during this challenging season. You can also make pacts in advance with these people that they will discourage you from negative outlets such as alcohol and drug abuse, anger and complaining etc. and re-direct you to positive activities including hobbies and charitable events.

Make time for activities that will help you manage your emotions.

Make a list of the things that you really enjoy doing and budget time and resources to do them. It is especially helpful to look for activities that help you put things in perspective, adopt a grateful attitude and make use of your considerable talents. This is the right time to offer more to your favourite charity than you ever have in the past! Keep busy doing the right thing and you will reap the rewards.

Trust in your greatest supporter: God

I have saved the best for last. For those of you who read the Bible, Psalm 31 is an example of the cry of someone who is experiencing a loss. The writer of the Psalm is not afraid to express the strong and negative emotions that he is experiencing. However, he continually turns his thoughts towards God who he calls his fortress and refuge. He turns his pain into a prayer for a better future. Turning to God, reading scripture and praying to Him are sources of great comfort in times of loss. It helps to remember that loss is a stopover rather than a destination. Assure yourself of God’s love for you through the journey by reading scriptures such as Psalm 139; Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Jeremiah 30:17-20; Matthew 6:25-34; Lamentation 3:31-33.

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