MA’AT AND MODERN YOUTH LEADERSHIP
INTRODUCTION TO THE CHAPTER
There exists a prevailing crisis of African American leadership at all levels. That is a predicament both dangerous and adverse to the continued progress of the various dimensions of theAfrican American community. The crisis is both of content and conduct and it (along with other social factors) may be preventing the youth from learning what they must know and how they must use that knowledge to move the struggle toward freedom and respect further in the near future and in the millennium.
In the 1690s, the 1790s, and the 1890s in America, serious citizens of the Black persuasion met, dialogued and decided on meaningful leadership strategies for the road ahead. The broader issues they dealt with were virtually always related to changing definitions of freedom in America, how to acquire equal participation and respect for those committed to staying in America, and generally to the politics and logistics of various kinds of nationalism or emigrationism . In essence, they were issues of inclusion solely, and issues of inclusion with an option to fly out of here.
By definition, those who accepted the role of leadership in handling these issues were held accountable for accurately representing, interpreting and articulating the interests of their constituency. The continuing responsibility and obligation of all effective Black leadership in those past eras was to maintain the integrity of the connection between the leader and the led. Debates, disagreements, disputes over philosophies, tactics and strategies of getting to “the Promised Land,” never dissolved the affirmed imperative that leadership must always remember itself as a function solely of the interests of the constituency it speaks for, and never allow itself, or be allowed, to become a vehicle for personal vendettas and personal agendas. Credible leadership in the Black community was neither intended nor tolerated to lead itself. The violation of that principle and the non-correction of it in a timely fashion virtually always resulted in a de-legitimization of that leadership and the reduction to irrelevancy of the interests of that constituency. The history of African American leadership has most frequently exemplified, with few exceptions, the veracity of that principle.
The aim of the process presented here is to spark a broad community dialogue over identifying, designating and developing a proper new paradigm for African American leadership in 21st-century America which will re-incorporate relevant principles from the past and synthesize them with the pragmatics of the present and future. Such a paradigm would be intended as a reference for the accountability of our leaders. It would not constitute an entrenched, dogmatic list of leadership qualifications to be imposed on the emerging crop of new African American leaders; however, it would provide elements of the constituency--in any aspect of the Black community--with points of comparison and reference from accepted Black standards by which to measure the quality of their particular leadership. Along with leadership responsibility, accountability and competency, the other seven ethical principles of Ma’at represent these accepted Black standards.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERSHIP
FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
I. THOSE WHO WOULD BE LEADERS MUST ALWAYS BE WILLING TO DO WHATEVER THEY ASK THEIR FOLLOWERS TO DO.
2. THOSE WHO WOULD BE LEADERS MUST REMAIN RESPONSIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE DECISIONS THEY MAKE, AND MUST ACCEPT AND EXPECT TO RECEIVE BOTH CRITICISM AND PRAISE FOR THOSE DECISIONS. (HONESTY AND STRAIGHTFORWARD TRUTH IN EXPLAINING ONESSELF TO THE RELEVANTCONSTITUENCY IS THE TIME-TESTED BEST STRATEGY FOR LEADERSHIP RESPONSES TO SUCH CRITICISM).
3. THOSE WHO WOULD BE LEADERS MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT THEY SERVE AT THE PLEASURE AND AS THE VOICE OF A CONSTITUENCY. (LEADERS SHOULD BEWARE OF SUBSTITUTING THEIR SINGLE VOICE FOR THE COLLECTIVE VOICES OF THE PEOPLE THEY REPRESENT.)
4. LEADERSHIP IS ALWAYS AND MUST REMAIN A COLLABORATIVE--RATHER THAN A UNILATERAL -- PROCESS ENGAGING THE LEADERS AND THE CONSTITUENCY. THUS LEADERS MUST LISTEN, CONSULT, BE ADVISED BY, AND GIVE DEFERENCE TO THE CONSTITUENCY.
5. LEADERS MUST NOT DISRESPECT THE CONSTITUENCY OR ITS AGENDA--IF A CONFLICT ARISES BETWEEN AIMS, THE LEADER MUST COMMIT TO WORKING IT OUT WITH THE CONSTITUENCY RATHER THAN GOING IT ALONE.
6. THE INTERESTS OF THE MANY MUST ALWAYS OUTWEIGH THE LUST AND EGO OF THE FEW.
7. LEADERS MUST BE SKILLED, TRAINED AND ADROIT IN THE AREAS IN WHICH THEY PROVIDE LEADERSHIP. THEY MUST KEEP UP WITH THE EMERGING INFORMATION RELEVANT TO THOSE AREAS AND MUST NOT SUBSTITUTE RHETORIC FOR CRITICAL READING AND ANALYSIS.
8. LEADERSHIP POPULARITY IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LEADERSHIP COMPETENCY, AND NO CONFUSION SHOULD BE ALLOWED REGARDING THEM.
9. LEADERSHIP MUST DEMONSTRATE A CONTINUED KNOWLEDGE AND RESPECT FOR THE VALUES OF INTEGRITY, HONESTY AND VERACITY IN LEADERSHIP’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CONSTITUENCY.
10. LEADERSHIP MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT IT REPRESENTS A CONSTITUENCY’S AGENDA; LEADERSHIP ITSELF IS NOT THE AGENDA BEING REPRESENTED.
11. LEADERSHIP IS AND MUST REMAIN PRINCIPLED AND SPIRITUALLY-CENTERED.
12. LEADERSHIP MUST RECOGNIZE THAT RETAINING THE REINS TOO LONG HAS DELETERIOUS EFFECTS ON THE HEALTH AND PROGRESS OF THE CONSTITUENCY.
13. LEADERSHIP MUST ESSENTIALLY DEPEND ON COMMON SENSE AND MOTHER WIT.
14. LEADERSHIP MUST DEMONSTRATE DECENT HOME TRAINING AND POLITENESS IN INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ACTIVITIES.
15. LEADERSHIP MUST NOT ENGAGE IN PROTRACTED DISAGREEMENTS WITH THE CONSTITUENCY AND SHOULD REFRAIN FROM PERJORATIVE NAME-CALLING AND RUMOR-MONGERING IN DISPUTES.
16. LEADERSHIP MUST NOT BE DECEITFUL OR COWARDLY.
17. LEADERSHIP MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT BY EXAMPLE AND BY MODEL IT IS PROVIDING A TANGIBLE IMAGE OF WHAT THE CONSTITUENCY STANDS FOR AND BELIEVES. THE PUBLIC WILL MEASURE THE CREDIBILITY AND WORTH OF THE CONSTITUENCY BY THE QUALITY OF THAT REPRESENTATION.
18. LEADERSHIP MUST TRAIN AND INSTRUCT REPLACEMENTS AND REINFORCEMENTS.
19. LEADERSHIP MUST ALWAYS MAINTAIN BOTH AN HONORABLE VIGILANCE OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE RELEVANT CONSTITUENCY AND ‘ORGANIZATION’ EXIST, AND A CLEAR VISION OF WHERE THAT CONSTITUENCY IS HEADED.
20. LEADERSHIP MUST PARTICIPATE IN THE ANALYSES, PLANNING, STRATEGIES AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONSTITUENCY’S AGENDA WITHOUT VIOLATING ITS CONFIDENCES. LEADERSHIP MUST THEREFORE SURROUND ITSELF WITH AND TAKE HEED OF WISE COUNSEL.
21. LEADERSHIP MAY BE THE SPEAR-THROWERS, SHIELD-BEARERS, PLANNERS, STRATEGISTS AND/OR EXECUTORS OF ACTION FOR AN ORGANIZATION, BUT THE CONSCIENCE AND SOUL OF ANY GROUP MUST REMAIN ITS CONSTITUENCY.
22. LEADERSHIP MUST STAY FAMILIAR AND CURRENT WITH MODES OF COMMUNICATION AND ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE RELEVANT TO THE CONSTITUENCY.
23. LEADERSHIP MUST CONDUCT THE CONSTITUENCY’S AFFAIRS WITH AS MUCH FAIRNESS AND EQUANIMITY AS IS POSSIBLE IN EVERY SITUATION.
24. LEADERSHIP MUST BE A COLLECTOR AND DISSEMINATOR OF INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE, NOT A HOARDER.
25. LEADERSHIP AND ITS CONSTITUENCY MUST BE MUTUALLY LOYAL, SENSITIVE AND RESPECTFUL ENOUGH OF EACH OTHER TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHEN TO RETAIN AND WHEN TO BREAK THE INTEGRAL BONDS BETWEEN THEM.
1. ANY LEADER WHO ABUSES THE CONSTITUENCY’S TRUST SHOULD BE HELD TO ACCOUNT IMMEDIATELY, AND RESPECTFULLY REPLACED, IF NECESSARY.
2. ANY LEADER WHO STEALS FROM OR REPEATEDLY LIES TO THE CONSTITUENCY SHOULD BE HELD TO ACCOUNT IMMEDIATELY, AND RESPECTFULLY REPLACED, IF NECESSARY.
3. ANY LEADER WHO CONSISTENTLY DISRESPECTS THE WOMEN PARTICIPANTS IN ANY ORGANIZATION IN WHICH HE/SHE PROVIDES LEADERSHIP SHOULD BE HELD TO ACCOUNT AND EITHER CORRECTED, OR IF INCORRIGIBLE, RESPECTFULLY REPLACED.
4. ANY LEADER WHO REPEATEDLY FAILS TO CONSULT WITH AND TO CONSIDER THE WISE COUNSEL OF OTHERS IN THE ORGANIZATION BEFORE MAJOR DECISIONS WHICH AFFECT THE WELFARE OR THE EXISTENCE OF THE ORGANIZATION ARE IMPLEMENTED MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT, CORRECTED AND/OR RESPECTFULLY REPLACED, IF NECESSARY.
5. ANY LEADER WHO USES THE FINANCIAL AND OTHER ESSENTIAL RESOURCES OF AN ORGANIZATION MUST SUBMIT TO THE REGULAR ORGANIZATIONAL SCRUTINY OF SUCH USE AND SHOULD EXPECT TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT FOR INCONGRUENCIES.
6. ANY LEADER UNDER WHOSE WATCH THE ORGANIZATION LOSES ITS DIRECTION AND FOCUS, BECOMES MORIBUND, AND ESSENTIALLY BECOMES MEANDERING , MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT AND THE AIMLESSNESS EITHER CORRECTED OR THE LEADER RESPECTFULLY REPLACED.
7. ANY LEADER WHOSE STYLE OR ACTIVITIES BECOME CONSISTENTLY DELETERIOUS OR DANGEROUS TO THE EXISTENCE OR WELL-BEING OF THE ORGANIZATION, UNLESS SUCH ACTIVITIES ARE APPROVED BY THE CONSTITUENCY WITH THE RISKS KNOWN, MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT AND RESPECTFULLY REPLACED, IF NECESSARY.
8. ANY LEADER MUST COMPLY WITH AND FOLLOW THE CONSTITUTION, BY-LAWS, RULES, AND REGULATIONS OF THE RELEVANT ORGANIZATION WHERE THOSE COMPONENTS EXIST--UNTIL THEY ARE CHANGED-- AS A ROLE MODEL TO OTHERS IN THE ORGANIZATION, AND SHOULD EXPECT TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT FOR VIOLATING ANY OF THOSE COMPONENTS.
9. ANY LEADER WHO BECOMES SPIRITUALLY AND/OR MORALLY BANKRUPT MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT AND EITHER CORRECTED OR RESPECTFULLY REPLACED.
10. ANY LEADER WHOSE AMBITION FOR EGO GRATIFICATION, PERSONAL AGGRANDISEMENT, AND/OR PERSONAL GLORIFICATION SUPERCEDES THE PRIORITIES OF HIS/HER CONSTITUENT’S AGENDA MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT AND EITHER CORRECTED OR RESPECTFULLY REPLACED.
11. ANY LEADER WHO BENEFITS FINANCIALLY OR FAMOUSLY FROM HIS/HER LEADERSHIP MUST IN TURN SHARE SUCH LARGESS WITH THE ORGANIZATION’S CONSTITUENCY AND SHOULD EXPECT TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT FOR THIS OBLIGATION.
12. ANY LEADER HELD TO ACCOUNT FOR ANY PURPOSE MUST BE ACCORDED A FORTHRIGHT, FAIR AND PROPER HEARING WITHIN WHICH HE/SHE CAN PRESENT A REASONED RESPONSE TO ANY AND ALL ALLEGATIONS IMPINGING UPON HER/HIS LEADERSHIP.
13. LEADERSHIP SHOULD BE RESPECTED, BUT TO BE MAINTAINED, SUCH RESPECT MUST BE CONSISTENTLY EARNED; AND MUTUAL RESPECT BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND THE CONSTITUENCY MUST BE PRACTICED RELENTLESSLY.
14. LEADERSHIP IS NEITHER DESTINED NOR AUTOMATIC, RATHER IT IS A CHOICE MADE AND ACCEPTED. EVERY LEADERSHIP CHOICE DOES NOT FIT EVERY SITUATION, AND ADJUSTMENTS IN THOSE CHOICES MUST SOMETIMES BE
15. CONSTITUENCIES NEED LEADERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP NEEDS CONSTITUENCIES---THE MUTUALITY OF THE CONNECTION SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.
© Meeting Ma’at (AuthorHouse Pub., 2003)
by D.L. Horne, 2003