“Strive for Greatness, be the new breed of Strategic Leaders” -VP Howard-Taylor Tells Graduates of Samuel Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has challenged young people around the world, especially Africa, to be active participants in changing the trend of events that are impeding the progress of mankind by striving to be a new breed of strategic leaders who are capable, have the will power to lead with intent and diligence, and who carry the uncommon fire to build a better world for all.

Vice President Taylor made the statement on Saturday, May 21, 2022, when she delivered a moving Commencement address via zoom of the 2022 Executive Strategic Leadership Master Class of the Samuel Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute for Leadership Studies in the United States where 60 students from 40 countries including Liberia received certificates in Advanced Executive Strategic leadership training.

The Vice President’s Speech which was anchored on highlighting some of the difficult moments the world was going through such as wars, hunger, poverty, disease, uncertainties and the threats to human survival and then soliciting for practical solutions to end or alleviate these situations, told the graduating class that what they learnt will be put to test and valued by the way they use their knowledge acquired to benefit mankind and society.

“For me, I am of the opinion that the context of those words ring even truer today. Our world is indeed in a deeper crisis. There are wars and rumors of wars in many quarters

“The network of violence and hatred has spread from North to South to East to West; and in today’s world, sexual and gender based violence; and human trafficking and slavery abound all around us; yet it seems that those who operate these networks are too powerful or connected, thus living above the laws.

“The World Economic System is further shattered from choices made and opportunities squandered. Many are homeless, even in previously thought safe and secure havens. Joblessness has become the norm of the day. The healthcare systems are stretched to the limit. Inequalities and marginalization of the most vulnerable in our societies, especially women and girls are on the rise,” she said.

Speaking further, VP Taylor lamented the state of education in many developing countries where institutions of learning are failing in their duties to provide the knowledge and skills that will produce the right leaders to govern their respective people.

 “Sadly, most of our school systems are no longer the cradles of innovation, knowledge, value systems and excellence; hence they have mostly produced leaders which are increasingly incapable of making the strategic decisions necessary to build a more peaceful and inclusive world ; thus continuing to operate in spheres which threaten the very existence of mankind,” VP Taylor remarked.

The first female democratically elected Vice President who held her global audience spellbound throughout her oration spoke on the theme of the occasion, “Leading with Intent and Diligence” and did a synopsis of the subject matter under three headings: the Value, Impact and Benefits of Strategic Leadership, which according to her the world urgently needs today.

Based on the three sub-themes, VP Taylor expounded that the value of strategic leadership is to bring together and lead a team which ensures the integration, creativity, and innovation necessary to drive a collective vision for long-term success; while the impact strategic leadership is the security of building a firm foundation and organization which produces the ultimate results expected. As regards some of the benefits of strategic leadership, VP Taylor noted that such benefits produce unity, reduce conflict, increase cooperation and team spirit, as well as inclusion, motivation, accountability, good governance, high achievement, success, increased benefits for all, trust, better adaptability, endurance, sustainability, among others, adding a quote from the 2020 Harvard Business Review: “Mindsets are leaders’ mental lenses which dictate what information is taken in, how that information is used, how decisions are made and what drives them.”

As a way of drawing practical teaching to the graduating class for better understanding of her discourse, VP Taylor, who herself has garnered practical knowledge in leadership from a long career in public service, used the traits and positive attributes of an Eagle and urged them to imbibe on them.

“Visionary -Eagles DON’T just step out of their nests and fly about AIMLESSLY. Vision inspires every fight and action. Personal or leadership success begins with a clear vision. Before you step out daily, you must be very CLEAR about what you intend to do or accomplish –this is a critical success factor.

“Relationship-The female eagle will NOT settle for any male eagle that is NOT RESPONSIBLE. Once in a relationship, they stick together for life. Quality relationship and partnership must be built on COMMITMENT and RESPONSIBILITY.

“Association – Eagles will rather fly ALONE at a higher altitude than to keep a wrong COMPANY. They don’t ASSOCIATE with VULTURES because their passion and lifestyle don’t connect. Who you associate with matters in the journey toward your destiny. Build your team INTELLIGENTLY and STRATEGICALLY,” VP Taylor stated emphatically.

Going further with her illustration, Mrs. Taylor repeatedly emphasized on the attributes of the eagle, and told the graduates to be current.

 “Current- Eagles do not eat or feed on DECAYING animals. To succeed in life, you need to feed on current INFORMATION and fresh REVELATION. Always stay updated so that you don’t become outdated.

 “Courage – Eagles have an UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, they don’t run from the STORMS. They use the stormy wind to soar to higher altitude. They take over when other birds take cover. To succeed in life, you can turn your challenges into a divine advantage. You must NEVER QUIT when pursuing purpose.

“Building – Eagles build wisely. In Job 39:27, it states: Does the Eagle mount up at your command and make his nest on a high inaccessible place. On a cliff he dwells and remains securely upon the point of the rock and the stronghold. From there he spies out the prey and his eyes see it afar off. When it comes to building their nest, eagles exhibit the following characteristics: They build wisely, protectively, firmly and purposely. To have predictable success in life, build your life purposefully and protect whatever you are building.

“Retreat – Eagles retreat for renewal from time to time. They know when to retreat. Usually between 30-40 years old, Eagles withdraw from activity and retreat into a secret place up on the mountains where they use their claws to tear off their old ineffective feathers and knock off their beak. They will bleed for a while and will not be seen flying for a while, but suddenly fresh feathers begin to grow, their strength is renewed and they can now fly for another 30-40 years,” VP Taylor lectured, nothing that to succeed in life, one must know when to retreat from activity in order to increase their productivity.

At the end of her brilliant speech and after being accepted to form part of the archives of the Samuel Jacob-Abbey Institute for Leadership Studies by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Jared A. Onyari, VP Taylor had a short but very interesting interaction with the graduating class from where questions were asked from other viewers across the world.

One of the students asked her about those in her life that inspired her to seek for greatness, to which the amiable Vice President said God whom she made to direct and guide her steps; her parents, though not alive today to see the fruit of their labor; Mrs. Winnie Mandela, whose leadership role to lead the struggle against apartheid throughout her husband Nelson’s incarceration until the end of the suppressive regime, and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first elected female president of Liberia and Africa whose inspiration paved the way on her becoming elected as the first elected female Vice President of Liberia.

Another lady, a Liberian, Madam Korlu Watkins, who said she runs a nonprofit foundation in Liberia, said she was excited meeting and speaking to Mrs. Taylor online and look forward to seeing her in the future and thanked her for her exemplary leadership she has exhibited thus far in public service.

The President of the Bong County Citizens in Americas, John Kollie, also commended VP Taylor for being a shining example not only from Bong County but Liberia. He said it has been the desire of the citizens of Bong County to meet her in their midst in one of their conventions in America but her tight schedule has been the problem.

VP Taylor responded that it has indeed been her interest to attend but her busy schedule has been the challenge; however, she said she hopes to attend the 2023 edition of the event when invitation is extended to her.

According to the organizers of the program, the graduates are products of a stellar collaboration between the Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute for Leadership and the Academy of African Scholars for Social Change, the Center for Peace Studies, the International Commission of Diplomacy and Global Affairs and the Peace Society of Kenya.

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