Are leaders born or made? This is a question that has been plaguing people interested in leadership for centuries. If they are born, then the debate of leaders being born or made should have ended a long time ago and African states should pull resources to invest in genetic research to identify the genes which have pre-programmed leadership traits to come lead the continent.
I am Jeremiah Thoronka born in a remote village in Bombali District , Sierra Leone. Based on the humble circumstances of my birth, one would never imagine that I could become a leader. Thankfully daily determination with the cultivation of a deep- set value system is transforming me into a leader. Based on my own experience, it will be wiser to say that leaders can be made.
Leaders as well as leadership consultants and masterminds believe in the power of continuous learning. I believe that Africa can be transformed by learning new habits, and new disciplines. My journey started out with Engineering at The Fourah Bay College and I have gone on to pursue a Global Challenge degree at the African Leadership University in Rwanda as part of the inaugural class.
I am passionate about sustainable energy development and with a background in robotics. It is my goal to blend robotics and energy in solving Africa’s energy problems.
LEADER-IN-TRAINING The African Leadership University (ALU) is made up of students from more than 45 countries around Africa. As a student at ALU, I serve as the Secretary General of Student Representative Council and President of the ROTARACT Club. What makes unique is the fact that the school is made up of young people who see failure as a learning opportunity. They take risks for the greater vision. They solve problems and chase solutions. At ALU, I major in Global Challenge with focus on Energy and through that I founded Optim Energy, a company that aims to provide affordable and clean energy in Africa for sustainable energy. It is my visison to build a sustainable energy sector while leading the quest to change Africa into an energy hub by creating access to efficient energy solutions with relentless focus on mitigating greenhouse emisions. I also founded the Sierra Leone Student Energy and Conservation Organization (SL-SECO), an organization with a mission to promote energy conservaton and management of natural resources for sustainable development in Sierra Leone. SL-SECO’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leadership and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.
MADE NOT BORN
Leaders are made and there have been many theories to support this, especially according to the Behaviourial theory. The theory focuses on what leaders do than seeking their in born traits. The theory suggests that leaders usually have similar reactions to different problems. This theory suggests that successful leadership is basd on learnable or definable behaviour. The role theory assumes that people usually define roles for themselves and others which are based on social learning and reading. They will form expectations about the roles that everyone plays and act within the roles they adopt. People have internal schemas about leadership roles based on what they read from books or watch from televison or a taught in training courses. Leadership is and art rather than a science. It is a set of innate traits, refined and perfected over time with education, training and experience.
QUALITIES OF A LEADER My idea of leadership is being able to inspire others, to motivate, to communicate, to set a vision, to respect others and of course to lead by example. I think leadership is about supporting and enabling my team to be the best they can be. I believe a good leader has the following qualities: • He is always three steps ahead of others and he looks out for his people before he does himself. • He takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit – John C. Maxwell. • He is kind, motivating, knowledgeable and always concerned for the other person. • He builds excellence by first building character. • He builds trust and empowers members through honesty, inspiration and intelligence.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
No man is an island, you cannot stand alone and do it all by yourself. You need people to help you execute your long and short term vision. I belong to many movements around the globe, I am a member of Innovate Sierra Leone, Global Minimum and International Student Energy to name a few. I have career mentors who have helped me shape my path: Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Dr. Modupe Taylor Pearce, Sam Mile and Professor Rogege. Trainings and conferences have helped me to understand my sector , to network with like-minded people and to strategically position me in the energy sector. I have been trained on Sustainable Energy Regulation and Policy Making for Africa – UNIDO, Efficient Energy Use and Planning – Life Academy, Climate Change – UNITAR, Renewable Energy Regulation – IRENA courses, coursera and edx courses on Energy, environment, policy and sustainable development from respectable institutions around the globe. There are also individuals I look up to who are impacting Africa in a major way: • Fred Swaniker, who is changing the African narrative by providing access to quality education in Africa. • Dr. David Moinina Sengeh is building the foundation for tech and innovation in Sierra Leone • Ben Keifala, an avid fighter against corruption in Sierra Leone
Winston S. Churchill says “It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” I have built my life on purpose as it’s the most important thing. I’ve seen people running after achievement, and at the end of the day their lives ended been filled with loneliness and despair with no specific purpose in life embraced by them. I strongly believe that living a life of purpose will enable me to get awards as my impact will speak for itself, but prioritizing achievements over purpose will take me nowhere. My purpose in life is providing access to clean and affordable energy in Africa, and no award will bring more joy than see gaining access to clean and affordable energy.