The recent statement by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu that those who steal public money should invest in the country has caused uproar among citizens.
While the intent behind the statement may have been well-meaning, the delivery has sparked outrage and condemnation. This scenario underscores the importance of leaders being mindful of their words and actions, especially in public.
Leaders occupy positions of power and influence, and their words carry weight. Their utterances have the potential to shape public opinion and policies and as such must exercise great caution in what they say, how they say it, and where they say it. What they say in public can either inspire people or fuel unrest and dishonesty.
Furthermore, leaders who make careless statements in public risk creating a perception that they are out of touch with the realities of the people they lead. In the case of the Auditor-General, the statement made about investing back in the country may seem logical to someone in a privileged position.
However, to the average citizen who is struggling to make ends meet, such a statement may come across as insensitive and out of touch. Leaders must be mindful of the language they use and the audience they are addressing, especially when discussing sensitive issues like corruption.
In addition to the negative impact on the public, leaders who make careless statements also risk damaging their own reputations and those of the institutions they represent.
To avoid that, leaders must be deliberate in their choice of words and must avoid making off-the-cuff statements that can be misconstrued or taken out of context. They must also be sensitive to the mood of the people and the prevailing political climate.
This requires a deep understanding of the issues that affect the people and the challenges they face. Leaders who demonstrate empathy and understanding are more likely to earn the trust and respect of the people they lead.
Leaders must also be mindful of the platforms they use to communicate their messages. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become powerful tools for communication, but they can also be double-edged swords.
Leaders who use social media platforms to communicate must be mindful of the impact their words can have on the public. They must avoid using social media to vent their frustrations or to make provocative statements that can fuel tensions and unrest.
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Leaders in top positions must recognise that their words matter, especially in public. They must be mindful of the impact their words can have on the public, their reputation, and the institutions they represent. They must choose their words carefully, and they must be sensitive to the mood of the people and the prevailing political climate.
-Ms Mutai is a media and communication consultant