Governance: What does it really mean?

 Governance: What does it really mean?

The concept of governance

More often than not, on the pages of newspapers, or on the World Wide Web, we get to read about countries and organizations that are in great shape – governed by the best leaders, and the right structures. These countries that make the list of well-governed states, would frequently have Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a host of other countries on the list. The only thing the external observers note, is that they are absolutely well governed. But it is apt to ask: What is governance? Why is it important? Also important is the question: What is the place of leadership in good governance?

Governance Today, provides a holistic definition of governance. According to them, governance is “The system by which entities are directed and controlled.  It is concerned with structure and processes for decision making, accountability, control and behaviour at the top of an entity. Governance influences how an organisation’s objectives are set and achieved, how risk is monitored and addressed and how performance is optimized.” This definition points to a salient truth: That governance is not a one-off activity, but instead, involves some carefully curated processes and systems, which when followed through to the letter, provides positive results for the nation, organization, or entity involved.

There is thus the presence of a strong framework to help in the guidance and management of entities that desire good governance. This framework identifies the person/people who can make decisions, the group of persons who are empowered to act on behalf of the organisation or nation in question, and finally, the watchdog that ensures that all stakeholders are made accountable, in line of their duties and responsibilities to the organisation or entity. When all these are put in place, then there could materialize that which we call “good governance” – that state when processes, systems, and institutions produce results that meet the needs of members of communities, groups and societies, with the resources at the disposal being used as it should be.

Why is governance important?

Having explained what governance means, it is apt to state in simple terms, why it is important – for communities, organizations, entities, and countries.

  • It helps to define institutional vision: The adoption of good governance practices helps institutions to have a clearer vision of the future ahead, and to make plans to achieve all that has been envisioned. This means that performance would be improved upon, and better results that lead to the realization of goals and objectives will be achieved.
  • It helps to build trust: When good governance is in full gear, members of society, institutions or entities are able to trust the system as well as the leaders involved, which ensures that all hands are on deck to achieve the entity’s goals and aspirations. In an organization or institution for instance, there is strong support by stakeholders when they trust the system. For citizens of states and countries, the presence of trust for democratic institutions are intensified, which means well for the greater good, and cuts down on citizens’ disgruntlement.
  • It leads to unprecedented growth in all facets: The presence of good governance implies that members are better motivated to put in their best performance, which makes great results possible. This means that there is a platform that supports and increases the capacity of members to do all they can to aid overall growth and development of the organization, entity or institution they are a part of. In short, people are able to contribute their quota for the greater good, when there is a system that motivates them to give their all.

The place of leadership in good governance

The impact and the place of good governance has been identified. But it is essential to state that good governance cannot be wholesomely achieved without the presence of effective leadership, since leadership helps to achieve and sustain effective administration. The place of effective leadership and its relatedness to effective or good governance has been identified in many academic literatures, and this connectedness rests particularly on the activeness and capacity of the leader to spur followers on, towards the realization of organizational goals.

A leader who embodies the right skills, qualities, and has a great knowledge of what the organisation or institution stands to achieve, is able to lead other stakeholders towards advocating for, and working towards good governance. With the qualities of leaders, as well as the firm decision to guide and nurture followers and team members towards the main goal, all elements of good governance, which include and not limited to: consensus, transparency, the actualization of the rule of law, transparency, equity and inclusiveness, as well as active participation are achieved.

In essence, good governance can come into realization, when there is a nexus between the leader’s capacity to guide and instruct followers, understanding their perspectives to aid the realization of the institution’s goals, and creating a pathway for the realization of those goals. Without the presence of a working leadership that is able to work with a well-planned out system, effective governance would be a mirage.