Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
THURSDAY, July 04, 2013
Hosni Mubarak, Mohammed Morsi and Egypt have much to teach us about leadership. When Mubarak took power in Egypt after Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981 Egypt was in the throes of uncertainty. Young Mubarak held out hope for a bright future for his ancient country. But absolute power corrupted him absolutely and soon he became the very anti-thesis of a leader: dictatorial, despotic, selfish and intolerant.
His people, seething with discontent for over 3 decades, finally rose up in 2011 and overthrew him in what became an exciting chapter in Middle East history… the Arab Spring and Tahrir Square have emerged as the ultimate symbols of freedom and democracy. What followed in Egypt is a textbook case of leadership gone awry…again! Mohammed Morsi won the post-Mubarak election and wrested the opportunity to rewrite Egyptian history. He was seen as the Islamic Brotherhood’s moderate answer to a religiously polarized region. And yet he was either oblivious of or dismissive about the aspirations of millions of his countrymen…something that people in positions of authority often display. Ordinary Egyptians needed a better life with greater freedom and security while Morsi focused on consolidating his power and ensuring that his own political party’s ideology was furthered. And so the inevitable backlash has just occurred with millions of Egytptians pouring into the streets to protest against his policies…resulting in the Egyptian Army launching a coup to dethrone Morsi and detain him under guard. Alas, yet again in Egypt, as elsewhere in the world, the person in authority was completely disconnected with the welfare and aspirations of his people. That just deepens my conviction that you occupy a position of authority but that does not make you a leader. A leader is one who leverages the trust of his people into results that improve their welfare.