Last Sunday on Springboard, Your Virtual University, on Joy Fm listeners had the benefit of listening to a rebroadcast of an insightful interview with the Most Reverend Charles G. Palmer-Buckle, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast, of the Roman Catholic Church.
The interview which took place a few years ago shed light on his perspectives on the concepts of leadership, nationhood, development.
On his definition of a leader, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle explained: “I have actually been thinking very much on who a leader is. This is where my professional bias comes in as a church man; Jesus gives me the answer, when he says I am the good shepherd and goes on to say the good shepherd is one who knows his sheep.”
Qualities of a good leader
“So a good leader first and foremost must be somebody who knows those he or she is leading and it is not just ordinary knowledge but knows them by name and knows their weaknesses and strengths; that is what to know means. Jesus goes on to say ‘ I lay down my life for the sheep’.
“I think it is required of any leader to be so committed to the purpose for which he or she is leading, whether he or she is ready to die for the good of the cause and the good of the people he or she is leading.
“The third quality is a leader must be somebody who has the ability to keep the strong and the weak together and to move in unison with them. Jesus gives me one of the figures of a leader and Moses definitely in most cases the Old Testament was a leader according to the heart of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Areas to exercise leadership
Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said that he believed very strongly that leadership would begin in the family.
He said the family required a leader, the father of the family must be a leader, the mother of a family must be a leader even the children within the family too. He added that the family was the bedrock of leadership.
Regarding political leadership, he explained: “Definitely when you’re dealing with politics, where politics is the art of bringing people together to attain the well-being that they really want, and at the same time bringing them further to what they themselves may not know they need. This type of leadership that Jesus enunciated is needed in various aspects of life.
“Today when you’re talking about corporate leadership, they talk about the principle of subsidiarity, the principle of reciprocity, the principle of solidarity a whole lot.
‘It is only that they are putting into words that are today understandable what, I believe, was there already. Look at the principle of subsidiarity; which means your leader must not do everything by himself or herself.
“Just take Moses, he was sitting judging the whole tribe of Israel himself until his father-in-law came to him and said, ‘you are killing yourself just select people 70 of them and then entrust that responsibility to them’. Otherwise he was wearing himself out.
“And then you have the case where Jesus chooses 12 most awkward people and puts them together and gives them the simplest law and that is whoever wants to be first among you must be your servant, so he teaches them that a leader in a corporate organisation must be ready to go down to the bottom and serve even the least.
“And I believe that if you have a chief executive, who is accessible to the lowest person in his company, who is friendly to his driver, who is concerned about the messenger, you are sure that, that is a good leader. The qualities are timeless.”
Archbishop Palmer-Buckle also shared his thoughts on globalisation. “We definitely have to admit that, the 21st century is very unique. The word globalisation in all its array or garment is the biggest challenge because it is both positive and negative.
“And sadly sometimes they are being exploited that is where I get worried because globalisation without a face tends to think of only the maximisation of power and profit and pleasure at the expense of the most important component, that is the human person – his or her human dignity that cannot be negotiated, its inalienable.
“In fact, in the global world now we need a serious global moral and ethical leadership. Where a decision can be made that this is not good for human consumption simply because it is not good and can be tackled immediately.
“I believe that our own country, especially those who come from these very small countries, where we are no powers as such. We need a leadership that will also be very conscious of the fact that whereas we are looking forward to becoming players in the global world, we should not just allow ourselves to be exposed to anything that comes from the global world that may not be good for us.
Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said Ghana was his only heritage from God and would not want to trade it for anything.
“A Ghanaian is someone who is blessed in many ways but unfortunately so blind to what his gifts from God are and have been to date.
“When you travel out of this country, and people met you they make you understand that there is a unique thing about you that you do not even know.
“As of now do you know how many countries that look up to Ghana for us to do the best we can? And it is just to tell you what expectations they have of us,” he said.
Greatest asset of a nation
Archbishop Palmer-Buckle described the Ghanaian people as the nation’s greatest asset.
“The Ghanaian people are our greatest wealth. I won’t call it just human resource because it looks like you’re only looking at quantities. I am looking at the Ghanaian person as quality.
“We have developed the outside of the human person, in 20 years from now I expect to see a certain development that should take into consideration in developing the inner person.
“And that is where I believe churches and religious bodies must really rise up to that type of development, it is very crucial.
“It is already starting, there are very few people who have the courage to stand out and say there is more to just the human being than how much money he or she has in his or her pocket and more than a cell phone or a TV or a posh car,” he added.
Message to the nation.
“I will say it in five small points. The caption is ‘Happy are the pacemakers for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God’.
“And, therefore, I am encouraging every Ghanaian, politician or the ordinary person on the street to be a messenger of peace; an architect of peace; a builder of peace; a restorer of peace; and a crusader or an activist of peace.
“I believe that if we would do these five things Ghana would know peace,” he said.