Institutional cleanliness is the strength of a leader. If the truth is too naked, here it is. Everything depends on the courage of the leaders. That’s why they are the bosses.

For all the efforts that we make towards achieving our hallowed idea of good governance, we dirty our own pants. This is the truth, hard as it is for many to digest. Today, as we try to refine our governance and working systems, we are increasingly becoming so waywardly pervert and dishonest.

That’s why there is the question of leadership. Leadership is not bootlicking. It is not big-talking, being overweening or overly vainglorious. But that is exactly how some of our leaders act today, especially in government and welfare offices. And somehow they are also scandalously the ones that get recognised for their excellent contribution!

Leaders are those who do not let an employee who has misused his or her power or misappropriated office property go scot-free. He/she is a leader who is just and true. But then, what really happens is that our leaders are too sympathetic to corrupt practices, so much so that faults of their favoured colleagues mean nothing at all, even if they have siphoned millions of office revenue.

If any real leader has the courage to effect change it has to come from within, genuinely. Otherwise, the leader has lost all his/her power and prerogatives. To lay it straight in street argot, holding on to the seat still should burn his/her bottom.

One of the greatest faults we have is that we compartmentalise our own people, our own staff. A meeting is called, more than three times a week, for example, to bushwhack their own way ahead. Read the minutes of the meeting and it is so depressing to read that the meetings had been really about the individuals in the quorum and no other else, not about the glorious future of the agency, office or whatever that entity that they belong to.

Sometimes, appallingly, bosses question about one’s nonappearance in certain official functions. Of course they do not tell you directly. It is in the meetings they have that they discus such immaterial things. Professionals do not respect such frowzy little things.

These are small little things that need cleaning up. And this requires real leadership. We talk about national picture, but the lesson is closer home.

Everything depends on good leadership. Are we bossing or messing around too much?