A leader must learn some valuable lessons before he can be a great person worthy to be followed. What every leader craves is to have someone following.
I have a good and enticing character – I know that so much about myself, so I do not consider what I said a flatter but simple truth. This was what I thought until when a whole lot changed.
Now I should ask, what makes a man good or bad? Should it be who that man feels about himself alone or what other feels about him? I should let you think about that through.
I can guess a whole lot of people will arrive at the same way I felt about myself as described in my open words of this post. Well how you feel about yourself cannot be underestimated in the quest of self evaluation. However it goes bigger and deeper than that.
I found myself in a Christian association in my early days in leadership, I was part of the executive body of this association called FECA (Federation of Colleges Ex-Students’ Christian Association), Jos Chapter. Because I am a reserved and collected person, a whole lot of people loved me at the time – I was appreciated for everything I did. It was a wow feeling – every leader loves that feeling. Upon that wings I soared higher, I was elected a zonal executive. Then a whole lot of things changed for me.
At this level I have to deal with more difficult and complex situations, I had more authority and power is at my finger tip, that level exposed me to leadership beyond my imagination at my tender age. For the first time I discovered my level of productivity is not measured in how good I am as a person but my ability to managing a team, so my rating is dependent on how productive a set of naïve people are.
Something weird happen as I resumed the office, I thought I will be respected just because I was elected into an office, I thought leadership was just to tell people what to do and they do it regardless, I thought leadership was all about setting rules and sticking to it regardless and above all punishing every deviance from the rules. How wrong I was. This level of leadership brought me to the reality that human are not robots, they have will, choices, needs, and so many more.
My quest to succeed made me run at a fast and steady pace, upon looking back I realized I was running alone, I starved, grow lean just to sacrifice myself for the work and to make people see my selflessness, but what my subordinate always see is a wicked, too serious, unrealistic and a bully. It was so loud and clearly written on their faces. Many claimed I was an hypocrite pretending to be a nice guy until the mantle of leadership was given me, while some other just kept wondering and will say among themselves that “they wondered what happened to person they saw in me before electing me into the office”.
I was a little confused about this myself, I was somehow intoxicated by power, I am a principled person who loved orderliness, I love things perfect, I want people doing what they ought and at the right time, above all I hated excuses, I would never tolerate an inch of it! This made me a very difficult person, to make matters worse I was not too good with people. My subordinates craved for my attention and affection, but I was not the right guy to give it. So my first year which is the half of my tenure was a rough and hard one. Leadership became too difficult for me to handle. I just wanted to work and needed people who would work with me.
I had the opportunity to be hosted by another higher leader in the association who was in Jos for his NYSC service year at the time, he had served as a leader in the capacity I was servicing, so I went to him for advice and how to go about the challenges I was faced with. How can forget the role Barr. Victor Ogbonna played in my leadership life? That very discussion that day introduced me to another form of leadership – I call it a relational leadership style. Leaders must learn to know that their subordinates are humans, they have their thoughts, they have their beliefs, worldviews, challenges, insecurities, expectations, needs, emotions, behavior, strength, weaknesses and every other thing that makes them human. I’ll write something elaborate on this soon.
Here are the 6 things I learnt from my leadership ordeal at the time:
- A title does not make you a leader, it only gives an opportunity to become one
- A leader doesn’t automatically have followers; but subordinates. How a leader act only gives subordinates a choice to be a follower.
- Leadership is a role and not a position, it gives you a work to do and not a place to sit.
- Your subordinates are humans and not robots that can be controlled against their will.
- Every leader up there must learn to come down before he can lift his subordinates up.
- Being a leader and being a manager are not the same thing.
It is true that leadership brings some level of respect – what is more important is that subordinates should respect the leader and not just the office. Studying business in school opened my eyes further to see that there is a big difference between a leader and a manager – leadership and management both look alike but quite different.
Every leader must improve their personal development skills, they must understand this simple but rare truth, to have a good work environment. To lead a team well and have every joint supply, the concept of leadership must be clearly known. I am learning more everyday as a leader the concept of leadership, everyone must learn.