In Summary
  • Transactional leaders - like ours - are driven by self-interest, and are only likely to pursue public projects with direct or indirect personal gains.
  • While transactional leaders are likely to take us nowhere, transformative leaders could use their influencing power and enthusiasm to inspire us to change and greatness.

It’s the German scholar Max Weber who first described what transactional leadership style is and one which at a close examination reflects a majority of leaders we have in Kenya.

Transactional leaders are intolerant to alternative views, do not like reforms and often use a reward-and-punishment system to motivate followers.

They are concerned with how to improve current situations by framing the needed steps and ways of controlling activities through policies and procedures.

Transactional leaders are very bureaucratic - the Bwana Kubwa type. They stress and leverage on the loyalty of and relationship with their followers - not so much on values, ethos, beliefs and needs of the people.

It is their personal vision, goals and interests that take centre stage.

Furthermore, transactional leaders - like ours - are driven by self-interest, and are only likely to pursue public projects with direct or indirect personal gains.

SELFISH GAIN

As a result, greed and corruption has taken root everywhere. Public sector workers - from senior government officials to low-level bureaucrats – are engaged in extracting personal gains from government projects.

It is not shocking that the Cabinet secretary for Education, Prof George Magoha, said almost everyone in Kenya is a thief.

Probe around any government initiative and you will find all sorts of individuals lurking in the shadows ready to “eat”.

To approve and fund a new project. Transactional decision-makers, it seems, have to first understand how such projects would benefit them and their families.

In 2002, Kenyans imagined big things. They had long considered the dictatorial leadership style of Kanu and President Daniel Moi uninspiring. They were so optimistic the country would finally get visionary leaders.

Sadly, that expectation has, for a majority of them, turned into a tragic reality that genuine change may never come after all - at least not in their life time.

REPRESENTATION

Political firebrands, civil society activists and human right defenders that held so much promise, including religious leaders and media personalities, have all proven to be false prophets and merchants of lies.

They have turned into schemers and transactional fellas promoting expediency in place of genuine reforms.

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