Friday, 2 August 2013


I love adventure and I love to travel. I just got back from Abuja, the federal capital where the nation's leaders reside and as you'd all agree it's such a beautiful city. A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article on "which way naija" and these circumstances got me thinking about what if people had a dose of what it actually takes to be a leader. Would it change our outlook on life, improve our sense of responsibility? And maybe someday lead to a better Nigeria. So today I'm talking on leadership.

Who is a leader and what are the qualities of a leader? In other words, what does it take to become a leader. By definition, a leader is someone who guides, directs and can influence people. A leader may or may not have any formal authority. Leadership has been described as a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. It may also be organizing a group of people to achieve a goal.

Studies of leadership have produced theories involving traits, interaction, function, behaviour, power, charisma, intelligence, vision and values. According to some, leadership is determined by distinctive dispositional characteristics present at birth e.g. intelligence, ingenuity e.t.c. However, it has also been shown that leadership also develops through hardwork and careful observation. Thus, effective leadership can result from nature (innate talents) and nurture (acquired skills).

A leadership style is a leader's style of providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people. It is the result of the philosophy, personality and experience of the leader. Different situations call for different leadership styles. In an emergency when there is little time to converge on an agreement and where a designated authority has significantly more experience or expertise than the rest of the team, an autocratic leadership style may be most effective; however, in a highly motivated and aligned team with a homogeneous level of expertise, a more democratic style may be more effective. The style adopted should be the one that most effectively achieves the objectives of the group while balancing the interests of its individual members. There are many different styles of leadership and I'll just highlight a few;

  • Engaging style: engages both leaders and employees in understanding the existing conditions and how they can collectively assist in addressing them.
  • Authoritarian or Autocratic style: all the decision making powers are centralized in the leader, as with dictators. They do not entertain any suggestions or initiatives from subordinates.
  • Democratic or Participative style: consists of the leader sharing the decision making abilities with the group members by promoting the interests of the group members and by practicing social equality.
  • Free- Rein style: the person in charge is in the position without providing leadership, he leaves the group to fend for itself.
  • Narcissistic style: the leader is only interested in him/herself. Their priority is themselves at the expense of their people/group members. exhibits characters such as arrogance, dominance and hostility. It is a common leadership style
  • Toxic style: this leader is someone who abuses the leader-follower relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse-off condition than when he/she joined it.
  • Task-Oriented/ Relationship-Oriented style: the task-oriented leader is focused on the tasks that need to be performed in order to meet a certain production goal. Many men usually take this type of leadership style. The relationship-oriented leader is more focused on the relationships amongst the group members and is generally more concerned with the overall well-being and satisfaction of group members. Women tend to favour this style more.

To be a good leader, you have to acquire certain qualities and skills. These qualities include;
  • Honesty
  • Learn to delegate duties: you can't do it all on your own, look for specialist in specific areas that you are not good at, harness the strengths of your staff and use it positively. you can then do the jobs you enjoy and supervise the others. If you try to do it all, you'll either burnout or do it wrong or both. Even super heroes have sidekicks.
  • Set up a TEAM
  • Communication: Always make sure that you get information across to your staff properly and in time. Communication is not all about giving out information, also try to take in some, verbally or by body language. Develop a good listening ear. It will go a long way to help with problem solving. The least member of your team may have something new to teach you. ALWAYS LISTEN TO BOTH SIDES OF A STORY BEFORE MAKING A DECISION.
  • Be considerate: don't try to harass or bully people into doing things that will especially not benefit them and will be gainful to you. You will only end up breeding angry workers that are ineffective and as such non-productive. Note that majority of people would much rather do nothing all day and earn a salary at the end of the month and only a few actually do their jobs. EVERYONE WORKS FOR A MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD FIRST! THE JOB IS A MEANS TO AN END
  • Motivate your workers: a promotion, a word of praise or encouragement, a pat on the back, some guidance may go a long way to cheering up an already worn out employee and make them more productive
  • Take responsibility for your actions, realize when you have gone wrong and apologize
  • Enforce some disciplinary measures but never get to the point of victimizing a group member for whatever reason.
  • Have a sense of humor: occasionally the tension in the work space might be so much almost palpable, try to break the ice even in the most dreary situation with business looking down.
  • Be confident
  • Be committed to achieving your set goals
  • Always have a positive attitude
  • Be creative and inspire the people who work with you.
There is a huge difference between being a leader and being a figure head. So go out and take charge. Be the best that you can be, whether leader or follower, prove your worth!

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