Africa is a continent blessed with both human and mineral resources, large enough to make it self-sufficient, but Emmanuel Olutokun, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria writes that the reality seems to be in discord with statistics and expectations.
It is known that the problems confronting my continent are not corruption or mismanagement of funds but essentially the presence of self-driven leadership.
This act and behavior seems to be cascading down to the younger generations. Little wonder when you ask a child why he wants to be a politician his response most times would be to eat of the ‘national cake’.
There’s dire need for purpose-driven leadership in every facet of the continent. Though this narrative is being addressed by some concerned not-for-profit institutes, some of which I belong to, we can’t wait for a wide spread thoroughbred leadership.
The president of Nigeria has been absent for some weeks due to medical reasons, which has caused the reins of power to be transferred to his Vice, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, a pastor and academic cum politician.
It would look like a series of unfortunate events for while the country is currently groaning in recession, the set man who promised change is unavailable. But this has not been entirely so, thanks to the courage and doggedness of his Vice.
For a moment I thought I was the only one observing the meticulous way national matters were being handled until I stumbled upon a Facebook post from a friend which says “Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, you make leadership unbelievable, you make words true. Tears fall down my eyes each time I know that I have a leader somewhere who is aware that I matter”.
This statement, amongst many others, typifies the fruit of good leadership. I am of the opinion that leaders are not magicians and should never be seen as one, but they do much more than magic. They establish an ecosystem where support, succour, inspiration and motivation are not far-fetched ideals. Just as John Maxwell aptly puts, “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others but far enough ahead to motivate them”.
There are three essential tools that should at one point or the other should be found in a leader’s toolkit.
First is direction. A man who does not know where he is going or has not the slightest idea of the task that has been placed in his care cannot effectively lead his team to success. Before embarking on a task, sit down and map the task from the beginning to the end. That way you can envisage any possible hitch, address it even before the team realises it, and ultimately drive the team to victory. Leaders who do much more than magic are driven by purpose both at the macro and micro level.
The second tool is enthusiasm, which I believe is highly contagious. Having been able to lead and follow, I have come to realise that when a leader unashamedly believes in a vision and trusts the set direction, it always reflects on the followers. The litmus test of good and bad leadership is in the output of the task and the disposition of the followers.
I remember a time I was tasked with leading a team, the vision I had for the summit was so large it took me time to communicate it to my team. I never realised that the passion and enthusiasm with which I spoke about the vision had effects on the team, until few weeks to the event, due to the ebola outbreak, I imagined a setback which I thought could hamper the vision. But to my amazement the team had so bought the vision that when I told them we were no longer following that path, their response wasn’t that of “we told you it was impossible” but that of “we are going to do it, no matter what happens”. Their response strengthened me and we ended up achieving the vision without any problem.
Thirdly is empathy. Leaders are not miracle workers and should not be viewed as one. They’re the harbingers of hope and inspiration. They might not be able to solve the situation at hand but they provide succour, which triggers the strength to fight on. As a leader you must understand and share the feelings of your team. Take proactive steps to give relief and point them towards hope. Leaders who do much more than magic are empathetic and lend a shoulder when the team is in need.
Recently when there was a report of killings in the North, the Acting President took to his Facebook page to express his chagrin on the situation, offered condolences to the affected citizens and also outlined the steps he was taking to ensure such issues are mitigated.
Youths are the leaders of today and our tool kits must be filled with direction, enthusiasm and empathy. I conclude with the words of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who said the greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things.
About me: I am a brand enthusiast, writer and a passionate believer in the strength of the African youths as a change agent.
I am the 2014 award recipient of the ADVAN Future Leader in Marketing and a 2016 Ashoka ChangeMaker Scholar.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/
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