MY MESSAGES TO THE TOP LEADERS OF OLF, OLA, OFC
By: Worku Burayu (PhD) | January 21, 2021
Dear top Oromo leaders: You are great, and I salute you all! Ten thousand miles away, I’m not going to pretend to know what you’re going through. Yes, it’s easier to write it without ever having been in your shoes. In my previous several articles under the various titles, I have suggested to my fellow Oromian the need to change our thinking towards our political organizations and our gallant fighters OLA and advised to put our Ego aside to become diligently and critically think as a system and ready for answering our own questions. Today, I am focusing on delivering my messages to our great top leaders of OLF, OLA and OFC. Our present OLA top leaders are young, change-oriented and transformational that motivate and engage Oromo people by directing and showing their performance toward a shared vision and challenges the current dictatorial Ethiopian state. Many leaders of OLF & OFC are politicians who stood up for their beliefs, experienced and devoted their life to the cause of Oromo freedom. As our people are suffering day and night in Ethiopia, I think the following points are especially relevant in our present situations:
- I understand you: It’s okay not to be okay. Like any reasonable Oromo, you Oromo leaders are in pain now. It’s okay to be in pain. Our situations seem unpresented and very critical in Oromia. In fact, our anxiety is eating at us and people look scary. For you as a leader, there’s a lot on your plate right now, life and death situations. In such situations, I feel you that it’s okay to say that you’re not okay. Because, the Oromo struggle, as any freedom struggle, isn’t all simple or noncomplex by itself. It’s okay to be unusual; it’s okay to feel things differently; it’s okay to be angry when you heard rumor, hearsay, even to feel negative emotions. Having emotions and feelings doesn’t make you weak. Having emotions and feelings makes you human. Yes, it’s painful, but you will come out stronger for having experienced that pain, no matter what you’re dealing with right now. Admitting that you’re not okay and knowing that it’s okay is the first step to letting go of the pain. No one expects you to be perfect all the time.
- Leading questions and unintended consequences. Formally as a “journalist,” or informally as ordinary people, or even as expert, or as intimate friends, we all ask our leaders many questions that we should have answered by ourselves. We all know that the carefully designed leading questions are generally undesirable as they result in biased or partial information and are not representative of our entire reality. As it is well known, a leading question subtly prompts the respondent to answer in a particular way. More than often, leading questions contain information that a creator wants to confirm rather than try to get a true and an unbiased answer to that question. In most cases, leading questions are carefully phrased in order to manipulate the person to provide the interviewer with a more in-depth or desirable answer. Leaders who “shoot from the hip” in an act of political anxiety, or daily war stress, without considering the consequences will hit unintended targets, undermining and quite possibly destroying their effectiveness, their supporters and their base of constituency. Reacting abruptly or without careful consideration of one’s words or actions have backlashing which is detrimental effect not only to the leaders but also to their main objectives. In a leading questions cases, knowing the intent of the questions and carefully addressing the issues are very important. Many of our leaders are not only good fighters for freedom and democracy they are also eloquent to effectively, clearly and powerfully expresses themselves. However, due to extraordinary situations in the country, they don’t have enough time to prepare themselves for an interview. We all are human, so do leaders. We all have our limits, and sometimes those responsibilities push us over the edge of those limits. To share responsibilities and burden, having a good spokesperson who can effectively communicate the messages to the public and the media is vital to all organizations.
- Leaders lead by setting a good example themselves. I believe that we do have great knowledgeable leaders who understand the need to walk the talk, who comprehend the more you know, the less you talk idea. However, leaders might not always realize it, but others pay attention to their words and actions. Yes, leaders can influence their followers, supporters and public at large by telling them something and even explaining why it’s important. But to have an even greater impact, showing them that you believe it by doing it that way yourself sets a much greater example to model than anything you can say. You do things with other people, in almost any aspect of work and life. But you are still a leader, because what you do and how you do it sets an example for everyone else.
- Leaders feel isolated. Despite having millions of people who look up to them, leaders in Oromo political organizations, particularly in armed struggle, feel isolated more often than they’d like to admit. Comrades, fighters and colleagues who you lead may be reluctant to engage you in a friendly chat or they may hesitate to provide you with valuable feedback on how you are doing as a leader. Beyond that, you may be reluctant to open up to your colleagues, concerned that you will come across as hesitant, uncertain or self-image. As a result, you sometimes find yourself feeling unsupported and unsure, making important decisions without sufficient input or support. Even you may surround yourself to only very yes type people or your “intimate friends.” Great leaders know, it’s neither stupidity nor an indulgence to turn to others for advice and support, as they attend to the incredibly demanding and rewarding effort of running their political parties or organized armies.
- So, leaders need advisers. Anybody who thinks that he or she knows everything is a fool. No single leader can know enough to predict all of the situations in any organization. The simple truth is, to be a great leader, you can’t go it alone, you can’t build it alone. Instead, you must surround yourself with people who will pressure-test your decisions, provide divergent points of view, support you on tough calls, and champion your vision across the organization. The problem, especially in Oromo struggle, is everyone wanted to advice leaders what to do. In reality, pretty much all these advice-givers have been or were caught in the same place as everyone else: stressed, broke, isolated, disregarded and bored at many life factors. You shouldn’t take advice from almost anyone, because so few people know how to get where you want to go. As a leader, don’t absorb advices from numerous individuals who can only offer routine, average information. Playing a war action movie does not make any one an expert on giving real-war advice to a real fighter. If you want better advice, be selective instead. If your main sources of advice are inadequate, you will regularly begin seeking better sources. Be aware! whether you recruit advisors, or they come to you voluntarily, they have their own agenda and they have their own list of stories and strings. You can listen to, but file away the story and think about it. Many of Oromo leaders are languishing in Ethiopian prisons. Thus, to our top leaders, there’s no time like the present to rethink and engage the right people to accelerate the leadership impact and organizational success. It is important to have knowledgeable advisors, who don’t have direct control over your enactment. These are people who know in and out of your organization, are politically, socially, culturally knowledgeable, and can help you lead in the face of complexity. Also, it is crucial to engage your trusted colleagues, who are members of the leadership team. They may lead another task, regions, zones or structural functions. Or they may be sympathizers, supporters, but participate with you in many events or leadership consultations. Rethink and be sure to identify colleagues’ advisors whose opinion you respect and who are devoted in helping you succeed. They may not be your intimate friend. In any organizational hierarchy, a good leader is unafraid to ask his or her low level or subordinates or direct reports for comments, feedback, and potential solutions. OLF, OLA and OFC: you’ve many direct reports who are smart, talented group of leaders. Use them to help you make all-star decisions and work through challenges. As a successful leader, you have many strengths upon which to build, the best asset is by helping rising stars to get even better and faster than yourself. Be curious about people with controversial personality.
- So, Trust Yourself: Many people including experts and professionals particularly individuals with controversial personality want to connect and give the top leaders advice, often trying to inspire decisions benefiting their perceptions. They will inevitably give conflicting advice, based on their own views. While it is important to have an array of advisors to help you surpass as a leader and thrive as a person, don’t underestimate your ability to step back and thoughtfully reflect on the decisions you make, the style you bring, your talents, passions, strengths, and gaps. Of course, no leader particularly army leader has ever become great without audacity. Sometimes it is better to step out of some controversial issues and build in time for strategic pauses. Show in practice what no one else does, if you want what no one else has. A good leader examines the motives and sort out all of the conflicting ideas which come in unsolicited. So, leaders need to pick a few formal advisers and listen mainly to them. Experts, too, are ignorant about many things outside their own specialties. An effective leader must decide what to do, taking all advice into consideration but not allowing any of it to dictate the decisions. Be selective with where you get your information. For every source of information, ask yourself “do they have what I want?” and trust yourself. Most of the people you know have no idea how to achieve the goals you have. This doesn’t stop people from giving advice, though. In fact, a lack of knowledge seems to spur people to give advice even more. The truth is most people would choose to feel important than admit they don’t know the answer. If you follow the advice of impractical people, you’ll end up just like them. So, follow your gut that knows what to do and where to go, and never forget many have no idea how to get where you want to go. Don’t forget for a minute, no matter what they are, your spirits and feelings are valid.