Complete Story


The Most Critical Ingredient in Leadership

Understanding your contribution

Patrick Awuah escaped life under military dictatorship in Ghana and left his home to attend college in the United States. He settled in Seattle, built a successful career as a Microsoft program manager, married an American and started a family. He had left Ghana behind and resolved never to return. A few years later, however, Patrick’s first child was born, triggering a latent restlessness. He knew Africa would matter to his children, to the way they would see themselves, and to the way the world would see them. He began to think about going back to Ghana and knew if he returned it would have to be in the capacity of service. But what could his contribution be?

Patrick found the answer in education. He believed there was a causal relationship between Ghana’s traditional approach to schooling, which had roots in colonization, and the poor leadership he saw at all levels of the country.

While he would ultimately go on to found Ashesi University, the premiere liberal arts university in Africa (now ranked first in Ghana and among the world’s top 300 universities in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings), it took some time before he felt ready to act: “I was stalling because of fear of failure. But if I didn’t try, I would have failed anyway—so why not try?”

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