Studying various schools of thoughts on leadership, I see leadership as a combination of skills needed to influence a voluntary following, anchored on sound character and outstanding charisma towards harnessing necessary resources for the achievement of a corporate goal and vision.
Achievement of corporate goals has leadership as its basic enabling or limiting factor – a people can only arrive at where they have been led. Except you overtake your lead you remain lined up behind him. It doesn’t matter how the human development index, HDI, of a group rate, the leadership ideologies and expression would determine the overall outcomes of the people group or organisation.
People wonder about the impacts of a football/soccer coach in the success of a football team even when the coach doesn’t even play. But it’s obvious that the impact is great. A poor coach can mess up a good team. Leadership is that important.
A citizen of a poorly-led country is likely to thrive better in another country that’s better-led. Enabling environments are the results of good leadership, having the ability to foster character development as well as the activation and fulfilment of one’s purpose and mission. The power of a good leadership system cannot be over-emphasised.
Leadership either inherits a vision or discovers and develops one. Good leadership is seen in the ability to see a better future possible within the pool of the potentials and the resources of the people and the system. Great leaders are guided by such visions. Great leaders themselves are followers. They follow the picture of better possibilities that they have seen for their organizations, teams or countries. That’s why blindness can’t be part of true leadership. Inability to see that better future distinguishes a great leader from other leaders. Great leaders don’t mind the present state of things as they incubate a better future through vision that will put whatever negative in the present behind. But if the blind leads the blind, they both end up in a ditch.
Great leaders don’t focus on actualising their personal visions. Their emphasis is on creating a corporate dimension of a personal vision, ensuring that everyone involved can see where they fit in within the one vision. And when a leader uses corporate resources to pursue a personal vision, he achieves that easily but only to his own benefit. Once he arrives at what’s good for him, the journey stops and the team would stagnate at that point or degenerate. Personal visions are cheap to arrive at when using corporate resources to pursue it. Selfishness and great leadership aren’t compatible.
A corporate vision is one, which when achieved becomes a platform upon which every member of the team including the leader could easily fulfil his or her personal vision.
A great leader is able to see every member of the team in the final outcome of the project better than when the project was conceived, as part of the overall vision. This helps the communication and the harnessing of resources for the project. The commitment of every member of the team is only guaranteed when every member is able to see himself in the final outcome.
The greatest reward of a follower’s commitment is the opportunity the final outcome gives in moving him forward towards achieving his or her own personal vision.
Evans Adetokunbo Emmanuel
is a leadership development consultant based in Lagos, Nigeria.
Please note that the use of his/him in this article is only for ease of writing and expression. This article is not gendered specific.