FUNDAMENTALS OF LEADERSHIP
In furtherance to our introduction on “What is not leadership” I would like to take it a step further by looking at some of the definitions of leadership that have been proffered by certain authorities of international acclaim and follow same up with an analysis of each. By so doing, I hope to lead you into their mental dispositions about the subject matter before giving you the most acceptable working definitions because leadership is not just an abstract thing but a living breathing reality upon which life and living are anchored.
First let’s consider consider Bill Gate’s definition: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Nice definition no doubt because it embraces two key components; others and empowerment which in my opinion is good but the empowerment is not defined. So empowerment to what end? Is it the type that some Nigerian politicians do by raising thugs and violent elements to press home their personal agenda or is it the purchase of commercial motorcycles for young vibrant graduates and school leavers who are still left at the lowest rung of the social system? Those who are forced to ride same on bad roads which eventually wear out the vehicles (which they are meant to pay for on instalment) thereby returning them back to the streets where they must depend on the politicians for a livelihood.
Next I would like to consider that of Peter Drucker (of course his name rings a bell just like Bill Gate’s)
He said: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
Hmmmmm…by this definition, a person like Adolf Hitler who the world was happy to be rid of has been almost venerated above the average unknown man who always helps the community stay in good shape even at his own ‘loss’.
Virtually anybody can have followers by the end of the sword or by the coin; that is you could have followers through the use of force or by buying them and so that just cannot be a perfect definition one bit.
Now back home in Nigeria when I trained senior staff of the National Assembly on Leadership and Team Building a couple of years back, I heard one of the definitions of leadership which portrays an image of a mind frozen in the 10century but also a product of mental laziness and verbal ineptitude.
It came from a ‘senior staff’ who defined it thus: “Having power and making people to follow you.”
Now if this were to come from the military barracks I would not have blinked at all or from a motor park tout, I would even have feigned deafness since that is expected of them. But to have come from the managers of our ‘hallowed chambers’ who have been regaled with national robes of honour to lead us, I had a big headache because it was just the right picture of what plays out in their arena. However by the time I was through with the course, they were more than grateful to me for shedding not just a new light but the right light.
So what then is leadership if it is not all of those ones mentioned? Before I volunteer a definition, I would like to open your mind to the fact that leadership is not so easy to define but like beauty, you can recognize it when you see it. Its core ingredient is not mere book-wise knowledge nor school taught wisdom because it must be learned and not just taught…hence I see why even some of the finest brains of our times hit often brick walls trying to define it.
Leadership is an experience best felt to be ideally defined and that is why many ‘developed’ nations of the world make it a fundamental part of their growth process via educational systems and social support structures which they make available to their people while unfortunately in most of the ‘developing’ nations, it is made to look like the exclusive preserve of the political class and those who by birth or mutual compromise are associated with them. Therefore it does not require a special telescope to view the failure patterns in these nations made very obvious by the inbreeding process of stale leadership development; that is leading without leadership.
I would urge you to join me next time on this journey of leadership development as we explore what leadership truly is.
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Facebook: Frank Uzo
Leadership Strategist/German Certified DVT Trainer in Admin