Leadership like I always say is not just about occupying a superior position of power or authority. It is possible to occupy certain positions and not be able to lead anyone. It is about the capacity to influence others to collaborate with you without force or coercion in the pursuit and accomplishment of specific tasks, objectives or even a vision. If you have the ability to sacrifice and inspire sacrifice from supporters and followers for the purpose of achieving a predetermined end, then you are a leader.
Leadership is not an option but a compulsory attribute for anyone interested in succeeding in this life. No one can actually make it alone through life. Hence, your ability to inspire and influence all the people you need through your life’s journey to support and contribute to accomplishing your personal vision and goals is leadership. No one is born a leader; leadership is learnt, developed, managed and sustained for you to profit sufficiently from it. Many of us are however struggling every day, overworking ourselves just to make ends meet without enjoying the lavish support of those we can influence through leadership. Because we don’t know how to lead, we can’t influence anyone. Many wrongly assume high position is leadership. What high position will really fetch you is power and authority not genuine influence. True influence is the ability to change a man’s mind, not just his actions. A man can change his actions out of fear, respect, the law and reverence but his mind can remain unchanged, meaning when the opportunity arises to act on what he thinks and truly believes, he will. Subjugation, blackmail and threat are not true qualities of leadership. Unfortunately, these are the most popular practice with many of us. That is why Nigeria and even Africa is not progressing at the desired pace. Our concept, practice and understanding of leadership are not efficacious.
Leadership is the ability to positively influence others. It is about effecting behavioural and attitudinal change in people towards achieving a predetermined goal. It is about mobilizing the minds of many, co-ordinating their behaviours and inspiring sacrifice for the achievement of objectives. If you pride yourself a leader today but lack what it takes to persuade, convince and change the thinking of your followers, then you are not a true leader. The number 1 lack in Nigeria today is true leadership. Many don’t understand it, many can’t comprehend it and many are unwilling to change their minds and their misconception about it. To make real and rapid progress as a nation, our understanding and interpretation of leadership must change. Leadership in any nation is not just with the political class. Every Nigerian should be a leader. Our scope and the sensitivity of the position occupied may differ, but we can all positively influence different people at different levels in different ways. My dear friend, you are a leader. As long as you can influence anyone in one way or the other by your words, attitude, thinking and conduct, you are a leader within the Nigerian Project. It is not just the action of the political class, but the thinking and actions of the 170 million citizens that are responsible for our situation in Nigeria today. As they say, little drops of water make the mighty ocean. It is the act and behaviours of individuals comprising 170 million people that define today’s Nigeria. It is you preaching and spreading falsehood, rumours, assumptions and hate within your homes, communities, offices, market stalls, display shops, workshops, etc. that is promoting division, hatred, suspicion, fear, rejection and destruction. The problem of Nigeria is deeper than the perception of current political leaders. Even if an angel is in charge in Nigeria, your perception, not the reality, will influence what you do and what you say. Your reluctance to study hard, your reluctance to be well informed, your reluctance to acquire sound knowledge; opting to bribe and settle lecturers to manipulate the results of exams you didn’t pass is part of the problem. The decision as parents to buy JAMB scores and GCE results for your kids instead of making them work hard to pass is part of the problem. Throwing dirt on the street, violating traffic rules and misuse and abuse of public infrastructure are all part of the problem. Working for just an hour but spending the rest of your working hours doing your own thing at the office is part of the problem. When you opt to do the wrong thing and assume it wouldn’t matter much because you think it’s just you, and another 100 million people do the same wrong thing thinking it’s just them alone too, it’s all part of the problem. I suppose it’s easy for you to see how our individual neglect of the good, the right and the appropriate are frustrating the potentials of the growth of our nation. As long as you can influence anything or anyone with your words, your conduct and deeds, you are a leader. If leadership is influence, growth in leadership is simply a choice to make positive influence daily by doing and saying the right things. It is about inspiring the people you can influence to do the right thing. It is about being a good example. It is about restraint from what is wrong and the discipline to do what is right even when it is not convenient. I hear many people complain about the state of the economy today but the truth is, Nigeria really does not have an economic problem. No, we don’t. The reality is, we have social and political problems with economic implications. If we don’t tidy up our social and political loose ends, we’ll struggle to get our economy right. The economic downturn is not about resources, policies, strategies or lack of good plan on paper. No. It’s basically ‘a people problem’. Most of us are doing stuff as citizens resulting in daily damage of the economy and we don’t want to stop. Yet we conveniently assume we have nothing to do with it. Lamentation, criticism and blames without individual commitment to positive improvement are direct forms of insincerity. In your little sphere of influence, do something positive, that’s the start of leadership. Dear friend, before you do anything wrong, ask yourself this question; if everyone does this, what will be the implication for all of us. Because, in truth, my dear friend; the collective bad behaviour of most of us is the cause of all our problems as a nation.
Dear friend, Leadership in any nation is not just about the political office holders but it is about everyone’s influence. If you want progress for your nation and yourself, make positive impact. Choose to be positive in your influence at any level you find yourself in.