3 things I learned about leadership from rural leaders.

Abdirazak Mohamed
7 min readFeb 16, 2022
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Leadership has many definitions, whatever it is defined, it all comes down to same concept which is basically achieving common objectives through one person or group guiding and influencing others.

At the time when human became groups and clans leadership was important, it was the determinant of that clans civilization, survival and their influence around the world.

Leadership is complex thing, no one actually knows what makes someone a great leader. we all have had a leader, have leader and watch leader doing a phenomenal thing that brings out something that revolutionize how we lived.

Lack of leadership qualities has its casualties, lot of countries around the world are paying so much price due to the bad leadership they have chosen for their people.

However, throughout the history, claims have been inclined that it is something to be born with while others have said it is something that anyone can learn.

Either way, Another debate has supported that leadership is neither born not learned, it is something simply that anyone could be.

You may have your own definition, but we can all agree on certian qualities over others.

For the past century many studies has been published on leadership. Lot of well-known universities provide leadership programs.

However, it is quite interesting when you see a leader without no degree or school background about leadership doing phenomenal work.

I value education but working with rural community leaders have amazed me in so different ways.

Rural areas is where the natural leaders are easy to observe, study and analyze, it is where you can easily recognize that leadership is more in character than in skill.

In below I have summarized 3 things that I spotted in the successful leaders in the rural areas, .

Having a close healthy relationship with strong individuals of the community.

In somewhere called Boocley, east side of Hargeisa capital there is about 200 families who lives there, who are mostly agro pastoralists,

In early morning of sunday me and my team were headed to this areas, we enjoy the bush areas where the soind of the birds, smell of the fresh air and the natural environment could bring clamness to any tired face.

As we landed. We are welcomed by an elders.

“Salaam” as usual said one of the elders of the villages, we accepted the warm greetings.

Fortunately, they were expecting us, therefore, some fresh milk and warm tea has been waiting for us. Lovely!!!

We were delighted by how well the villages leaders are connected well and respecting each other..

Who is the head of the village? we asked.

As we expecting one of them is been pointed, but, one of them said he is on his way to us.

After few minutes the head of the villages arrived and immediately after he showed up the other community leaders cleared the way for him and let him communicate with us without any interrupts.

The leader was arm amputated man with little to small talks, he was confident enough to simply say few words and his fellow admins would understand well and execute the demands.

The leaders name was Mohamed with the “gacan” nickname.

Mohamed was famous by being close to the stong men and respectful elders in his community.

He has this chrisma and calm personality which demands attentiveness and respect from anyone he talks to.

Mohamed was someone who is well respected by anyone works with him. In return he was someone who pays close attention towards individuals desires of his community. But he was very skilled with pointing the common interests in the community.

Mohamed has demonstrated an effective leadership style that his fellow committee serve him and respect him so well. this turns out he is also very respectful and have a close relationship with his people, particularly those who are near him in the administration.

Ability to understand and create environment of appreciation and praise for your close administrators will bring their innermost loyalty to you.

Great communication skills (in Somali Aftahanimo)

communication is one of the most important traits a leader should have, he/she suppose to communicate effective and clear so that his idea and vision could be understood easily.

Having an ability to communicate effectively and clearly can foster your way to leadership and influence.

Somalis might be alliterate but they possess great power in informality, they have been passing messages through speeches, stories and poetry and any form of informal communication.

Traditionally, Somalis value word rich speeches, poets, storytelling and everything that could grasp the attentions.

In the literature, Somalia has been called “nation of poets” by Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence.

However, Somewhere at west side of Hargeisa, my organization works with these village community people and their leaders.

Even though the leader is alliterate academically, yet he has a strong sense of speech and communication.

Mr Ahmed, the leader of this village speaks words filled with stories, proverbs, poems and wisdom.

every time we had to talk to him about the kinds of the projects and activities that we are trying to implement in his area, he listens well and pass the message to his people in very effective way that everyone could understands.

There is a one time my organization and Mr Ahmed had a disagreement. during this whole time my organization thought that we were right about the project objectives and how work can be done.

yet, Ahmed has a different idea, thanks to his proper way of storytelling, fascinating proverbs and poems, he made the whole project change it is objectives.

Ahmed is someone with smooth talk, filled with stories and listens more. with his proper talk and communication he won over his communities hearts.

people laugh at his joke, node with his points and understand his gesture.
his proper way of explaining complex ideas into the storytelling, wisdom, proverbs and poems has help him do great things for his people.

people believe in his ideas.

It is well known that storytelling is power, your communication skills should be persuasive, luring and poetic. For you to let everyone listens to you, you most invest in your formal and informal communications with stories, humor, wisdom and proverbs.

Understanding your people very well.

Human management has been one of the most important tasks an organization can do, whether that organization has 5, 10 or hundreds of employees.

The good thing about managing educated people in any organizations is that people are somehow academically alligned around some value. Like listening, respect and ethnically coexistence.

but, when it comes to managing rural people, things got more complicated.

Majority of the rural people are close minded, alliterate and poor listeners. this makes hard to manage them.

This misfortune invented unnecessary conflicts and disagreements amongst communities who lives in particular village or area.

In east side Hargeisa, where my organization was trying to implement a project of food security restorage amongst the poorer families and vulnerable ones. the village leaders had a poor leadership qualities.

immediately after we tried to start the project the community complained about their leaders and accused them for being selfish, care less and corrupts.

At the other hand the community leader seems to care about anything that would bring development to his people. But he failed to rarely meet their needs.

Every time he and his community have discussion it ended up with disappointments and frustration.

Technically, my organization works first with community leaders and the head of that villages for effective project implementation, we assume that everywhere, people trust with their leaders.

This place was unique, people and leadership were not in war nevertheless they were not friends either.

One of the things I have witnessed is community think that the leaders took advantage of the authority and the tittle they have, they have an access to NGOs, Governments and everyone that wants to help the community. In this case society think that these people only care for themselves.

Why not change the leaders you may say… but things are complicated in rural somali communities.

The reason why these people didn’t overthrow their leadership was because of the clan bias prevention.

However, we couldn’t help this conflicred commity.

wherever there is a lack of trust and sense corrupt. it is a organization policy to cut ties with them, and seek other place where both leaders and people trust each other wants the developments.

in Conclusion…

Often you don’t need to go to school to learn leadership, even though it is a good idea to explore and learn deep about leadership. but, this will not guarantee you being a successful leader that can bring change to his organization or nation.

Leadership is easy not simple. considering these above points and actually implement it will improve your leadership qualities. having close respectful relationship with communities that would establish trust and cooperation, having good culturally rich communication and finally understanding your people are things that we actually crave for our upcoming leaders to consider.

Do you want to become a leader? I have to break to you that you don’t become, but you’re already a leader. if you have the thoughts of that you can do better than the one in the management then you are the leader that people are desperately looking for.

if you have strong sense of responsibility for other peoples lives, then never wait and save those who need to be saved. Do something today leader.

Thanks for reading.