The term “servant-leader” indicates a practice and actualization of a set of practices focused on enriching the lives of others, building better organizations and structures, with the larger focus of creating a more just and caring world. Robert K. Greenleaf’s definition provides a somewhat lofty ideal given the lack of execution of the concept in certain country’s leadership circles (I am sure that many can think of where they are seeing this, ranging on the local, state, and national levels), but there are some people who do their best to make sure that when they are in a position of leadership, it is focused on serving and empowering their constituents instead of getting caught up in the trappings of power and fame.
In looking at how such a concept can be practiced in a country such as the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), some may wonder how it can take root given the country’s recent history (1996-2015 given the presence of Mobuto and later the Kabilas (both Laurent-Desire and his son Joseph). In more recent times, the multiple political parties, interlocking countries, and the people are gradually moving in a different direction that is hoping to be a far contrast that what people are expecting, and it is due to the strategic leadership of a new group and its soon to be new president, Bernard Katompa.
During his visit to Atlanta, he is able to hold a press conference outlining an array of interesting facts, including the richness of the country. With a more than impressive $24 trillion in reserves and being home to the largest rainforest in the world (after that of South America), the operative word “potential” is more than evident in regards to areas of concern ranging from business development (especially when it comes to the larger fields focusing on providing power and energy, mining, and other fields) to being a leader in climate-related studies, including climate change.
However, my one-on-one interview with him provides some more insight regarding his platform and addressing the larger need for bringing stability and hope to a country and people who clearly are tired of the disconnects and excessive gerrymandering that is associated with the country for a period of time that clearly is counterproductive. Under the primary lenses of a prevailing peace, privatization of the army, a refined financial system, power generation, agricultural development, improved healthcare, educational development, a more efficient mining and forestry system, a more trustworthy judicial system, and the importance of family and women are among the core issues he is planning to better address.
While it sounds sensible and ideal, one of the key questions that jumps out is how to address potential internal and external hurdles in executing such a platform; how exactly can you (and your party) get this done?
“The moves of the DRC come from a nature of movement. It is created in uniting despite the separating factors (including 500 recorded political parties), but more important is that nobody (despite the philosophical differences) wants to be associated with misery. They want someone with experience and a vision”, he states when asked the question of what is being done. Combined with current relationships with the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, and France (who is in support of a leadership change given the previous regime), along with the World Bank and IMF, the positioning for internal and external relationships and change is taking place. Even his discussion with Med-Share (while in Atlanta) to help problem-solve regarding the medical platform (i.e. making better use of excess equipment that has a clear and present need in the DRC) is another example of putting constructive measures in action designed to improve the condition of the citizens and looking ahead to putting more actions in place that are citizen and people-centered. A sense and sensibility of being able to sit with neighboring countries in addition to the multiple demographic groups (inside the country) and other nations is part of where the potential for a more constructive change is present.
“When people are oppressed on any level, be it hunger or access to medicine, their choice (for a change) is united by experience a common suffering. It creates a common objective that we have to do and be better”, he adds.
His outlining of improved efficiency and alignment is a central concept he brings throughout his articulation of his platform. Part of the disconnect (with education) is training people for a field or industry, yet by the time they complete their training, there is nowhere for them to work or grow. In focusing on making sure workers have a place to go, it clearly improves measures related to employment and growth.
The best way to capture the efficiency-improvement model is Katompa’s explanation of the copper production process. A miner and entrepreneur by trade, he explains the process as is and the associated costs of it; in adopting a more efficient approach, the costs decrease and funds can get redistributed. Likewise, as a part of the process, you are going to need people to work on the overall refinement, so in addition to creating a better model, you are also creating more jobs and career opportunities. Add to it aligning education to better address the larger needs and you have a more connected model, which clearly indicates a deliberate, intentional approach that is ultimately about the people.
But why him?
“As a citizen (and growing up with a number of the challenges that others in the country experience), I know I am making a sacrifice (from business and other related interests), but my focus is on a larger mission to our people. Greatness is when one becomes responsible for the destiny of others. When the people see you serving, they are more likely to do the same; (as we are seeing in other instances) rule destroys, but service leads”, he emphasizes.
With his forthcoming travels in the US, including Washington DC and other countries, his message is loud and clear, especially at the forthcoming STEM (Standing Together Against Rape) conference as it aligns with the need to respect and elevate women. Given 60% of the country’s economic production and output comes from women, there’s a clear need for improved gender equity, as it aligns with any prospective growth and development.
“My success in life has been, is, and will be a result of having my wife (Mrs. Fifi Katompa) by my side”, he emphasizes.
With the representation of the 3mE Group (for inquiries, readers may contact them at email@example.com) along with visiting their website (click HERE), audiences can get even more acquainted with the larger platform and focus areas. In the monumental words of the late president John F. Kennedy of “asking not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country”, the work of presidential hopeful Bernard Katompa is about the present and future of the people. When a leader can connect with people, even with the innate understanding that while he has his share of challenges growing up, he recognizes those who have it even worse than he does, having a sense of know-how and building relationships that are based on “win-win” principles provides a great opportunity for all to feel as if they are a part of something instead of apart from it all.
And that is servant-leadership personified.