Friday, 11 August 2017

LEADERSHIP CONUNDRUM




 

The leadership deficit in our country today
is a great cause for concern. It is the prime cause for all
other deficiencies;
structural, infrastructural, power, education, and many
others too numerous to
count. From the pulpits in our churches and the Minbar in
the mosques, at
seminars and other fora where the problems of this country
are being discussed,
the issue of leadership usually fronts the bill. Our readers
have therefore
become agitated and are asking the pertinent question: Are
leaders born or
made? In view of the failure of leadership in our country,
one is not
surprised. This, however, is the most basic and most
often-asked question
about leadership. The job of leading an organization, a
military unit, or
a nation, and doing so effectively, is indeed very complex.
To expect that a
person would be born with all of the tools needed to lead,
is a very tall order.

Yet, there are some "raw materials;
some inborn characteristics, that predispose people to be
and become leaders.
What are some of these inborn qualities? Extraversion has
been associated with
leadership positions and leader effectiveness. There is also
evidence that boldness, assertiveness,
or risk-taking or sometimes daringness can be advantageous
for leaders.
Leaders also need to be smart to analyze situations and
figure out courses of
action: All these are not taught in leadership training
camps or ‘man o war’.
They are ingrain in individual make-up. Even among business
persons, they are
traits that are not taught in Harvard Business School. You
either have them or
you don’t. It is these peculiar traits that separate
effective leaders from run
of the mill ones. To this extent therefore, we could
conjecture that most of
the traits that make a good leader are ingrain. For example,
intelligence is
associated with leadership, but perhaps not general IQ, but
social intelligence
- understanding of social and political situations and
processes; is
the component of intelligence that is important for
leadership. Finally, some
sort of empathy, or ability to know followers, is also
advantageous for leaders.
The leader must be able to know what followers want, when
they want it, and
what prevents them from getting what they want. All of the
above traits are
innate and are not learnt and tend to support the fact that
most leadership
traits and qualities have to do with the makeup of the man,
rather than
internalized. Leadership, therefore, being the ability to
exercise influence
over others for the leader's purposes, aims or goals, is
largely made up of
inherited qualities and traits that make men better suited
to lead. This leads
to the conclusion that most leaders are born. This is
supported by what has
become known as ‘Great Man’ theory and other ‘Trait’
theories. To suggest that
leaders do not enter the world with extraordinary endowment
is to imply that
people enter the world with equal abilities, with equal
talents, said Thomas
Carlyle. 

There is a significant difference
between “learning a skill” and mastering one, in the
same way that others
are born with amazing musical gifts or athletic talents.
They will excel
naturally in these areas but others would
not.

Born leaders are different from made or
artificial
leaders. All remarkable leaders have great history behind
them. They were
leaders from the onset of their journey. Some observers have
opined that birth
is a natural process and the notion to associate leadership
with it is
arguable. This is true to a large extent. Hence, they argue
that leaders are
made not born.

Behavioral Theories believe that people
can become leaders through the process of teaching, learning
and observation.
True, leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by
training,
perception, practice and experience over time. Leadership
learning is a
lifetime activity. Good leaders seek out development
opportunities that will
help them learn new skills. This is true of the military,
para-military and so
on, or managerial positions in corporate organizations.
However, no matter the
amount of training, some military and managerial personnel
will stand out above
the rest and in situation that calls for leadership, they
will be in front.
History is replete with such leaders, such as Patton,
Montgomery, Laurence of
Arabia and Julius Caesar.  

Can enrolling for a programme on management
and leadership makes someone a leader upon completion? Can
charisma, influence,
integrity and the ability to inspire be taught? Will the
granting of a
certificate and a few degrees after one’s name make them a
leader? These are
questions that are begging for answers. Soft skills can be
explained, but not
implanted. The ability to share your vision takes more than
a sophisticated
PowerPoint presentation.

Leadership can be learned by anyone with the
basics. But an awful lot of leadership cannot be
taught. Some do well
but others find themselves poorly equipped rendering
mediocre results. This
much is our bane in this country where we have social
deviants, delinquents and
miscreants parading as political leaders. People of doubtful
and questionable
pedigree and foundation. Even when they are learned and
schooled, they still
lark most of the qualities and traits of good and able
leaders. They are people
who have imbibed deviant cultures and products of
sociological mutations: And
like all mutants are never advantageous to the specie: Area
boys, cheats,
liars, kleptomaniacs and those Awolowo dubbed ‘lost
souls’. Yet, there is no
iota of doubt that this country of over 180 Million people
is blessed with men
and women of sound and impeachable characters who have
exhibited exemplary
leadership in politics and the economy, military and
religion. Where are they
that we are saddled with charlatans and masquerades?
 

Leadership is therefore, an art rather than
a science. It is a set of innate traits, refined and
perfected over time with
education, training and experience.

There is also an aspect of being in
the right place at the right time; which could be call
opportunity. You
may be a leader but also a matter of whether or not you are
in the position
within which your talents can shine
forth.

The discussion about leadership also needs
to identify the location as well as the environment. Not
everyone can be a
leader just like not everyone can become a good actor. Some
people will never
have that aspect in them while others have the latent
ability and thus can be
taught how to lead. All the books, classes, education and
training cannot turn
a follower into a leader.

To be a leader in a structured environment,
one needs some formal training. Most people can learn to
manage well, start a
business, lead a project team since good management is based
on rules - rules
that can be learned and mastered. But, we should remember
that Leadership is
often a choice. A leader is a person who comes forward to
take the challenge.
If a leader rises up from the multitude, then that person
was already a leader
to begin with. Should someone have all the best training,
nurturing and
opportunities, but would rather be hidden in the crowd, an
unwilling
participant...not a leader.

Leadership styles varies with maturity,
followers and situations.

Leadership attributes will include, among
others: “Integrity; charisma, inspiration, vision,
encouraging, positive,
confidence builder, dynamism, foresight, effective team
building,
communicating, coordinating, decisive, intelligent, and
win-win problem solver.” These
attributes are a combination of personality, character,
skill, communicative
ability, and emotional intelligence. Therefore, a leader is
born, developed,
skilled in communications, and cultivated through life
experiences.

Remarkable Leaders would include the
likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King
Jr, and Aung San
Suu Kyi…etc: Individuals that seek neither wealth nor
fame, selfless, loved
justice, passionate about people and worked for the greater
good of others.
Here in this clime we have an acute shortage of such
men.

In times like these, may Allah give us men
that would rise to the occasion and lead us to the Promised
Land; Amen.

Barka
Juma’at, Ramadan Kareem and Happy
Eid. Babatunde Jose
+2348033110822

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