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In his 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” the late Nelson Mandela gave his view on what a true leader should be, in these terms: "I always remember the regent’s axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind."

Leading behind is a powerful concept for effective leaders. By leading from behind, leaders empower the people they lead, while making sure the people stay on course,  pursue the vision, and keep eyes on the ball.

A Reference to the Torah and the Bible

Leading from behind is the ultimate demonstration of democracy, even found in the Bible and the Torah. In Exodus 18:1-20:23, Jethro,

Moses's father-in-law, told Moses, who clearly,  up to that point, did not have the understanding of the power of leading from behind: "What you are doing is not good.... select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied. 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said."

There are three things we can see in here:  one, dictators are bad leaders;  two,  good leaders listen; three, good leaders lead from behind.

Major-General Musare's Leadership Style

Undoubtedly, this concept epitomizes  the leadership style of one of the commanders of National Army - Imbonezagutabara, Major-General Musare. The self-effacing Major-General Musare is a hero to Rwandan refugees. Having led the protection of Rwandan refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1996, he is viewed by most of the Refugees, from the old to the young, as the pillar for their survival. Most of the refugees are now less than 20 years old. This means that the majority of Rwandan refugees have survived, thanks to the care and visionary leadership from General Musare and his subordinates. Yet, outside Eastern DRC very few people really know General Musare, even if many have heard of his extraordinary accomplishments in protecting Rwandan refugees.

The reason is simple: General Musare hates self-promotion, and shies away from the spotlight, unless required for the welfare of Rwandan refugees.

A Partner for Peace

One of the rarest times General Musare had to step out of the shadow and from behind was  during the Kasiki disarmament process. During the process, he held several meetings with DRC Government officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Mbusa Nyamwisi, North-Kivu Governor Julien Paluku, local and traditional Congolese leaders and  United Nations Peacekeeping mission (MONUC) officials. Impressed by General Musare 's vision and proposition regarding peace in the Great Lakes region, these officials did not hesitate to label him a "true partner" for peace in their speeches, during the Kasiki disarmament process. 

 The impact General Musare had on these officials hit me when I once met DRC Government security officials in Kinshasa. The DRC President's Security advisor kept telling me how impressed he was by Major General Musare and how General Musare is truly someone easy to trust and share the vision for peace with. I told the DRC President's security advisor the following: "when a leader is ready to lead from behind and empowers his lieutenants and the people, it is easy to gain the trust from not only the people, but also others, including the partners for peace."

 That is, without a doubt, why Major-General Musare, leading from behind,  has been able to protect Rwandan refugees for decades, while building brotherly relationships with the Congolese people.

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Felicien Kanyamibwa, PhD

President, National Democratic Congress