I have spent the last twenty-three (23) years of my life to study the subject of leadership as it affects families, companies and the nations of the earth. And each time I am opportune to see a new day on this continent, it becomes so clear to me that the major problem preventing the continent of Africa from progressing as other continents—is millions of people being in leadership without leading the people.
In Nigeria, we do have far too many people in leadership today who do have any business being in leadership. They are in leadership, but they are not leading the people. And until we succeed in putting people—who are true leaders in varied leadership positions, we can never be “led out” of the woods that we have found ourselves today and be “brought in” into an enduring global prominence.
What is my own definition of leadership? This is it: leadership is about “leading the people out” and bringing them “in”. Singapore as a nation was sitting on the back-seat in the comity of nations until a true leader showed up and “led them out” of the economic back-seat and “brought them in” to the front-seat in the comity of nations. If there is no national movement, from time to time, then there is no leadership. Each time a nation is stagnant, just know that leadership is missing in that nation.
Last week, I stood before some leaders of companies and religious bodies to teach them on the subject of leadership, because no companies, nations, families and religious bodies will grow beyond the leadership level of those who are occupying the driver’s seat. In the course of that meeting, I did my best to show those leaders that it is possible for them to be in varied leadership positions without actually leading those under their leadership while some folks under them without leadership positions will actually be leading those under their leadership.
The least form of leadership is positional leadership! On this continent, most of our leaders are positional leaders. When leadership positions are taken out of their hands, most of them will cease to be leaders. In Nigeria, people follow most of our political leaders because of their political positions. When those positions are yanked from them, people would stop following them and move on to those who have leadership positions. People follow them because of what those political positions can afford them, not because those political office holders are true leaders.
What transpired in the tiny country of The Gambia recently calls for a sober reflection. A man occupied the highest leadership position of the country for above two decades without being a leader! The entire country was not “led out” and “brought in”. And if there is no “leading out” and “bringing in”, then there is no leadership. This isn’t debatable.
When people are being harassed economically under someone who occupies a leadership position and he or she is not leading them out of it and bringing them into a blissful economic experience, then there is no leadership going on. Leadership is about solving problems for the people, it is not either about keeping them in a problem or being a problem to them.
The good book says that when “Saul” was king that it was “David” who was “leading the people out” and “bringing them in.” What a very deep leadership issue! “Saul” was just sitting on the leadership throne without “leading the people out” and “bringing them in.” And sitting on the leadership throne without imparting and impacting on the lives of people under your leadership is equivalent to nothing. It is not about the position, but it is about the person who occupies the position.
“David” had no leadership position, but he was a leader, “leading the people out” and “bringing them in.” How do you know that you are just occupying a leadership position without “leading the people in” and “bringing them out”? One, when the status-quo is maintained where you provide leadership. Two, when the lives of those under your leadership do not change. Three, when people’s problems aren’t being solved.
Once again, leadership is about “leading people out” of one level of success and “bringing them in” to a higher level of success. Also, leadership is about “leading people out” of problems they cannot handle on their own and “bringing them in” to the land of solution. On the condition that these and more do not happen, there shall soon be a massive exodus—they shall be attracted to a leader who is truly “leading people out” and “bringing them in.”
Each time I speak on the issue I am about to pass on to you, it usually sends cold water down my spine. This is it: that a man or woman was a leader last year does not automatically make him or her a leader today. Folks do lose their leadership edge! And when this happens, what they used to control would now be controlling them. When this happens, what they used to attack boldly would now make them afraid. When this happens, valiant men under their leadership would become victims of circumstances that used to be within his control before losing his leadership edge. When this happens, efficiency would give way to insufficiency. When this happen, a famous man or famous woman would fade into insignificance…When this happen, relevance would be lost!
When people start losing their leadership edge, they’d start looking for titles and positions to mask their leadership face, so that those under their leadership would not get to know too quickly. But the truth is, with time, they shall get to know. Nothing replaces the place of true leadership! Money and what money can buy cannot replace it. Leadership is everything!
Lastly, do not forget that leaders exist for their followers, their followers do not exist for them. They are supposed to serve them, not the other way round. If those who are following you are serving you without you serving them, you are merely in a leadership position without leading them. We need leaders who serve in Nigeria, because currently, our leaders are being served.
See you where great leaders are found!