Leadership with TFS
- The concept of leadership pervades the whole of human existence as well as the animal kingdom. The reality of leadership is inescapable and its absence is invariably indicated by disorder. Many books and articles have been written on this great topic and yet quality leadership remains an elusive ideal in many nations, organisations and communities across the globe. Millions of lives have been and are still being lost, economies destroyed with nations suffering setbacks attributed to poor leadership. In recent times, the actions, decisions and utterances of leaders of some of the most powerful nations and companies in the world are being questioned not on the basis of the political and economic power they obviously wield but on the appropriateness of their leadership choices. These issues bring to the fore the ideal of leadership excellence.
- In chapter 7 of my book, Yes You Too Can Get To The Top, (2017, The Vine Media Communication), I examine leadership as your springboard to the top. In every organised community, the top of the rung is occupied (sustainably) by those who have mastered the art (or science) of leading others. It then becomes important for anyone reaching for the top and planning to stay there to learn and practice the rules that govern the acquisition and retention of followers. Clearly, the test of leadership is “followership” and every leader demonstrates that he or she truly is one by pointing to their followers and also keeping them following. Does this mean that every leader has reached the top by demonstrable ability to acquire and keep followers? Of course not. Despotic regimes, monarchical orders, military and religious orders where control is achieved and maintained by either the barrel of the gun, bloodline, seniority or divinely inspired choice are clear exceptions. This is where the context of positional leadership arose from. Notwithstanding these exceptions, there are reasons to believe that the ability to occupy such positions “sustainably” depends on the ability of the chosen leader to justify, entrench and maintain his or her position through credible leadership or demonstrated power.
- Leadership however does not exist in a vacuum, for its own sake, or simply for the enjoyment of the perquisites of power, otherwise such communities would eventually dismantle the leadership structure from within or surrender to external leadership. This is especially true as knowledge and information grows amongst the governed with the benefits of increased education and the global growth in information technology access. It is for reasons such as this that the sustainability of despotic regimes and other inequitable power structures are increasingly called to question as abuse of leadership opportunities become major concerns to be addressed.
- Why is leadership abused? According to the late Bahamian leadership expert Myles Munroe, the ignorance of purpose makes abuse inevitable. This would mean that the prevention of the abuse of leadership must begin with a proper understanding of its purpose. We must accept that societies choose or submit to leaders for a reason. Leadership exists NOT to serve the leader, his family and inner circle but to serve some clear needs of communities. These needs and purposes change from community to community and from period to period as the circumstances of the community differ. Also, the extent, quality and consistency of the fulfilment of these needs or purposes in comparison with standards set by the society over time then become barometers by which we can measure leadership excellence. Once we accept the concept of purpose for leadership, then the evolution of standards of measurement of fulfilment of such purposes and comparative performance amongst historical and neighbouring occupants of leadership offices become inevitable. Excellence in leadership then becomes a desired and measurable goal.
- The purpose of leadership will naturally vary from period to period and between types of communities and organisations. For example, political leadership in medieval times revolved largely around the need for protection from attacks by frequent warring neighbours, the ability to muster military might and strategy to keep winning wars of expansion and of course crisis management. Economic growth and stability as well as the fair and equitable distribution of economic resources are leadership goals which have survived till modern times.
- Some of the earliest demonstrations of purpose-driven leadership choices can be found in the bible. These include Noah’s leadership of the new world from just before the flood to beyond (crisis management), Joseph’s leadership in Egypt ( Management of an Economic crisis), Gideon, Deborah, Jethro and the numerous Judges – (Protection from territorial wars) and Moses’ delegation to 70 leaders (Administrative efficiency & judicial administration). What are the key jobs to be done for today’s political and corporate leaders? What are the proper measures of leadership excellence? Are these measures the same for political, corporate, religious and community leaders? Are they the same for African leaders as are for leaders in OECD economies? Are they static or changing over time? Are the principles, tenets, norms and tools of excellent leadership the same regardless of age, economic status or level of development of the community? Does an excellent leader in one sphere automatically possess power to be excellent in another?
- These questions will be addressed in subsequent parts of this article on. Please keep following. For more articles by me, please follow me on www.toyinsanni.com