But when we closely analyse the “gossip” these politicians shared with the American envoys we are given anecdotal evidence of major flaws in the leadership styles of the subjects of the gossip. The leaders are authoritarian so don’t brook any criticism from their subordinates. They are coercive, adversarial, antagonistic and controlling; frustrated, the subordinates resort to gossip to release their pent-up energy.
But now that the cat is finally out of the bag — there is a general consensus in Zanu PF that Mugabe must go — the gossips in the party must shed their cowardice and stand up to the old man. When a cat — forgive the pun — is cornered, it fights.
Zanu PF spokesman and politburo member Rugare Gumbo last week said Zanu PF would this week convene to discuss the leaked cables that exposed the extent of the fission in the party. The party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa weighed in saying about the cables, “This is a serious matter and we need to talk about it so that we come up with a collective decision. We will talk about it at our next politburo meeting.”
Indications are that there will be retribution rather than introspection. Yet the truth of the matter is that Zanu PF has for far too long been run by leadership that believes in the authoritarian style of leadership which has ultimately resulted in the fissures that have torn the party asunder.
According to Ray Laferla, PhD, an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, trainer and consultant who specialises in the optimal utilisation of human resources, who I have had the fortune to interact with twice in the past two years, an authoritarian style leadership comprises four thinking patterns.
It is coercive; a leader with this attribute demands compliance and will, if necessary, use force to achieve it. This person expects subordinates to recognise his or her authority and to acknowledge it in the form of obedience;
It is adversarial; this thinking pattern has to do with competitiveness. The adversarial leader has a need to win in order to feel worthy and competent, he has a strong need to impress others.
He is antagonistic; he seeks attention and recognition by belittling and opposing others. Antagonistic leaders are critical people, they constantly look for flaws. Their first inclination is to find what’s wrong with something or someone.
They are controlling; they have a great need for personal power. They want to be in charge and they seek to personally direct others by restricting their actions and limiting the amount of authority given.
This kind of leadership, according to Laferla, might be necessary at first. He says, “The authoritarian style of management does, however, have a place. Under certain conditions, eg in a crisis, and during the early stages of a company’s (read country’s) development, authoritarian style managers do get results.
And there is no doubt that they make things happen. But in the longer term the authoritarian style of managing others is usually found to be inappropriate and counter-productive.
In their efforts to dominate and control, authoritarian style managers cause people to become dependent and to conform. Consequently, authoritarian style managers are likely to end up with subordinates who lack initiative and self-esteem.
Workers (read subordinates) will inevitably look to their manager for confirmation of worth, for approval. This, in turn, leads to resentment, and authoritarian style managers usually discover that instead of creating a productive workforce, they have staff whom are likely to demonstrate passive or passive-aggressive behaviour. People who are passive-aggressive will not openly reveal their unhappiness or disapproval.
Instead they will, either explicitly or implicitly, give the impression of consent and agreement though they disagree and are unhappy. The tendency thereafter is for them to ventilate their resentment and anger by either doing things to ‘get back’ at the manager or by performing in a very perfunctory manner.”
This is the context within which we should see the gossip-mongering that has hit Zanu PF. The Zanu PF leadership’s thinking patterns have enabled the leaders to control events by dominating others in a self-seeking manner.
The leadership has not seen colleagues as team members with whom to co-operate but as competitors to be beaten. Laferla concludes, “Subordinates are not regarded as people to develop and empower; they are seen as workers to be controlled and directed.”
The politburo meeting on Wednesday will seek to “control and direct”, to browbeat the dissenters and arrange them back in line like little ducks.
Authoritarian leaders, according to Laferla, like to make all major decisions themselves. “They seek to influence events directly and usually expect unquestioned obedience and compliance from others. They are also inclined to regard people as a means of production rather than individuals who have thoughts and feelings.”
Authoritarian leaders “speak to people rather than communicate with them. In other words, most of their communications take the form of directives rather than dialogues.”
They never ask for people to express their feelings. They won’t seek to involve subordinates in decisions or matters that are of consequence to them.
Senior members of Zanu PF have deferred to this kind of leadership like stooges.
As the politburo meeting approaches, all those guilty of gossip are already wetting their pants like little babies waiting for someone to determine their fate. They have been compliant in their response to bad leadership, they are insecure and approval-seeking; they are cursing themselves for having taken the risk to speak out. Right now they are back-biting one another in an attempt to achieve personal security and retain the status quo.
It’s high time someone stood up and said “NO”. It is high time they demanded a leadership that is people-centred, empowering and self-actualising. It’s high time someone stood up and demanded leadership renewal in the monolithic party. The consensus for this is already there as seen in the singular message they conveyed to US envoys in the past decade.
BY NEVANJI MADANHIRE