Highlights From the Impactful Leadership in A Dynamic World: Deep Dive with Prof Enoch Opoku Antwi. 

The final event for the YAFO Institute’s Scholar’s Series hosted Prof. Enoch Opoku Antwi, author of Servant Leaders on the theme; Impactful Leadership in a Dynamic World: Unleashing the Power of Servant Leaders on 14th October, 2023. The event focused on discovering the crucial characteristics and actions of servant leaders and also looked at instances from everyday life that best that best demonstrate these qualities. 

The host who doubles as President of YAFO Institute, Mr. Nathaniel Dwamena, moderated the event focusing on contemporary leadership challenges in organizations and Ghana at large. The key points and insight from the discourse with Prof. Enoch Opoku Antwi are themes as follows:

Inspiration Behind the Writing of the Book

The concept of servant leadership came in 1971 from Robert Greenleaf and he talked about serving first; consciously and eventually you become a leader and that is the concept of servant leadership and not many books have been written about it. He continued that, there is an Institute for Servant Leadership in the US and almost every month, individuals in the US meet to discuss about servant leadership and so there is a community discussion about servant leadership but it’s not common in Africa. In Africa, we just know the concept of it without details. 

He then decided to be the first African to write about servant leadership and put a name on it because our traditions also show servant leadership. He likened it to the situation where you have someone captured as a slave or servant in a war and that person serves as a slave in the Palace. The person becomes the knowledge of the Palace because they send them to inform others about happenings and within time they get so much knowledge to an extent that sometimes they are given leadership positions at the palace and that is how sometimes a servant becomes a leader. We also saw examples from the bible where Jesus Himself kneels down and wash the feet of the apostles and that shows servanthood. He added that, servant leadership is needed in politics, military, police, and in every aspect of our society.

Theories of Leadership

The host, Nathaniel Dwamena asked why he started his book from the theorise of leadership angle and in response,  he stated that, he did that because there are many ways to lead and he mentioned some of the leaderships as; situational leadership, transactional leadership, transformational leadership, authentic leadership, foolish leadership (ie. where smart individuals do stupid things).

There are many ways that we can lead and leaders are not born so it is important to list other forms of leadership before talking about servant leadership because even servant leadership is different from steward leadership. So there are many types of leaderships but servant leadership beats them all because it is the only theory with ten major characteristics.

So, a servant leader needs these ten characteristics; must be someone who listens, someone who brings healing to the community, empathy, conceptualization, self awareness, persuasion, builds community, committed to employees, foresight, and stewardship. 

Ensuring your Followers Understand your Vision

Nathaniel asked that, as a leader, how do you ensure that your followers understand your vision of where you’re driving them to and he stated that, as a leader you have to see far than others. A leader who doesn’t see far will appoint people around them who are not fit for the job. Any person you appoint reflects your judgement so even our friends we pick around us as individuals reflects our judgement. He continued to explain leadership as your character put into action. He added that, whatever we are seeing or experiencing in NPP’s government is Nana Akufu Addo’s character in action and same way what we experienced under John Mahamma was his character in action. 

Growing with Followers

Here, Prof. Antwi explained that, as a leader, you need to grow with your followers. You need to create a buy-in for your followers to join and then you form a movement with them. He cited an example where in advanced countries when there is a loss in a company, the CEO comes down to the people he is leading them to explain things to them. The CEO comes to the people and tell them there’s a loss and this is what we are going to do, instead of firing people, let’s form a family so I’m going to take half of my salary to support this organization and I want each of you to also take off 10 percent of yours to support this organization because there is a loss and we cannot pay all of you. With this, you will get 9 out of 10 people who will support this vision because they do not want them or their colleagues to go home and that’s what we call growing with them. 

Everyone wants to grow so if you’re a leader and your people are the same way you found them and not growing, then you’re not a leader but a manager. The difference between leaders and managers is that, leaders grow people and managers maintain the status quo. They leave everything as it is the way they found it.

Most leaders don’t grow their followers because they are afraid of competition I our part of the world but in the US, leaders hire people who are even smarter than them to help them grow.

Leading with Wisdom

Wisdom is superior to knowledge and so someone can be knowledgeable in books but can be “stupid” at home. There are other who are street smart but not book smart and that is what we call the common sense. Wisdom can be acquired from parents and experiences because life teaches us wisdom and unlike teachers who only come and teach us, life pushes us until we learn something. 

The most important thing is that, anywhere life pushes you on the ground, pick something from that ground and learn from it and that’s the only way to acquire wisdom. Two things constitute wisdom; your experience in life and practical knowledge acquired and when these two are combined, you become wise.

Steward Leadership and Servant Leadership

A steward knows that he holds his position in trust so he does everything for posterity to judge him because the legacy he leaves behind is more important than the money he loots home but unfortunately we don’t see that in our part of the world.

Leaders here see it that they have spent so much to get to the position and a lot of people also supported them to get attain that position so they rather satisfy themselves and the people around them. Stewards know that they are holding the position with trust and, therefore, they have to be accountable of any resources that come their way.

But servant leaders are there to serve and most servant leaders don’t even want to be served to be leaders. They sometimes want to do their work in private and leave so there are a lot of servant leaders you will never hear about them. As a servant leader, sometimes your name will never be mentioned but you do your job in quiet and leave because you know that only posterity will judge you but served your course when it was needed.


Prof. Enoch made this statement; “I know some of you are afraid to speak to authority. To be servant leaders, ask yourself, how do I serve first and then lead second?… but do not let your fears determine your course because courage is something that you need. If you want to be a servant leader, you need to be courageous”.

Prof Antwi admonished that we should be the person who breaks the cycle, if you were judged, choose understanding, if you were rejected choose acceptance, if you were shamed choose compassion, be the one needed when others feel hurt not the person who hurt you. Vow to be better than what broke you and made you bitter, so you need to serve from your hurt and not your pains.

The final event for the YAFO Institute’s Scholar’s Series with Pro. Enoch Opoku Antwi has been interesting, interactive and educative one as participants had the opportunity to interact with our special guest. Incase you missed the event, you can find the recap on our YouTube channel, @yafoweb and we hope to see you at our next event.

Article by

Joshua Larweh Tetteh

Joshua is the Programs Manager at YAFO Institute. He works along with the other executives to plan, organize, and carry out activities in accordance with the organization’s goal and vision.

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