The term above, is completely made up. I was walking around the historic outstation of Wau in Morobe Province and thinking about the different types of leaders and leadership types in PNG.
We have tribal leaders, leaders by authority, political leaders, leaders by corruption, leaders by brute force, leaders by criminal nature, etc, etc we have the whole rainbow range of leaders in PNG.
But do they practice leadership, and what exactly is leadership?
There are differing ideas and theories of leadership, you can read about some of them here on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership.
But I like the idea of Functional leadership as mentioned in the article, and that is;
“Functional leadership theory (Hackman & Walton, 1986; McGrath, 1962; Adair, 1988; Kouzes & Posner, 1995) is a particularly useful theory for addressing specific leader behaviors expected to contribute to organizational or unit effectiveness. This theory argues that the leader’s main job is to see that whatever is necessary to group needs is taken care of; thus, a leader can be said to have done their job well when they have contributed to group effectiveness and cohesion (Fleishman et al., 1991; Hackman & Wageman, 2005; Hackman & Walton, 1986). While functional leadership theory has most often been applied to team leadership (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001), it has also been effectively applied to broader organizational leadership as well (Zaccaro, 2001). In summarizing literature on functional leadership (see Kozlowski et al. (1996), Zaccaro et al. (2001), Hackman and Walton (1986), Hackman & Wageman (2005), Morgeson (2005)), Klein, Zeigert, Knight, and Xiao (2006) observed five broad functions a leader performs when promoting organization’s effectiveness. These functions include environmental monitoring, organizing subordinate activities, teaching and coaching subordinates, motivating others, and intervening actively in the group’s work.”
The idea is that the leaders role is to make it possible for others to achieve their dreams and their goals, and at the same time achieve the goals for the community as well.
Its an idea that ‘leaders’ in PNG should adopt.
Instead of wishing to shove ideas and plans down peoples throat under the guise of being a genius political leader, you could see what the people need, what the people are doing, what the people are earning their living from etc, and create the environment and the culture for them to succeed.
Walking around in Wau, thinking about leadership, you realise that all the other people in this beautiful town are just like you, thinking about leadership. Maybe not as deliberate as you, but they are thinking about it. It affects their income earning opportunities, it affects the education of their kids, it increases or decreases crime in the town, it has an effect of alcohol and drug abuse.
Without an effective type of leadership, you have a town and a community that never reaches its true potential.
How might Functional Leadership be applied in Wau.
In the Wau area, you have a lot of alluvial miners looking for toiling the sands, dirt and hills for gold.
If you were a functional leader in Wau, you would think along the lines of how you can improve the environment for all your people, how would you organise them, how would you improve their lives, how would you make Wau a better place for these alluvial miners.
Maybe run courses on safety in the tiny pits they dig in the side of hills, maybe control mechanised mining a bit more, with education about the effect of sediment run-off in river systems, maybe invite NGO’s to run savings programs, private companies to run investment seminars with the miners.
Obviously, these alluvial miners aren’t the only income earners in the area. You could run programs with the local coffee growers and farmers. You could do a lot of things.
One great thing is that the police here have nice houses. This is functional leadership in action, creating a better environment for the local police. If only they could also seal the roads and fix the Wau bridges as well.
Functional leadership is something missing in PNG. A clear example is the absolute lack of support by the PNG government for local agriculture industry.
Potato is an industry that has grown without any government support. The bettlenut industry continues to put kids through education and put PMV’s on the road without any Government support, the sweet potato farmers continue to risk life and limb to bring sweet potato to Port Moresby without government support and the mothers of central province who continue to sell greens at Gordons Market despite the constant barrage harassment, do so without Government support.
Everytime I see the police cars blazing up the Port Moresby Freeway escorting some politician I cant help but scream obscenities. The police service function is not to provide escorts. But they do. Meanwhile the Mama’s at Gordons Market continue getting harassed.
Everytime I see an image of a ‘leader’ being carried like some demi-god on a chair I cant help but laugh at the irony of it all. They like to call themselves servant-leaders, but servant leaders are not overweight, out of shape men carried on the shoulders of grown men on decorated thrones of flowers and wood.
The servant-leader is the archetype of Functional Leadership. Some of the leadership types on display in PNG, are not Functional Leadership.
An example of a mis-guided approach to leadership is the agriculture ministry’s support of a giant rice project in the Central Province. Effectively, they want to create a monopoly for a company to grow rice, killing business for current rice suppliers and effectively (and unconstitutionally) trying to stifle the development of local rice farmers. This is an example of autocratic type of leadership, making decisions that are not based on real economic or social value.
You would think that the Government should try to protect the PNG Potato industry or improve the value chain for the sweet potato industry, or throw resources into improving the Gordons market etc.
You would think that. But it’s a total different story today. Nothing natural in it. No cohesion, just egos.