There is no gainsaying that one of the challenges of our time is the dearth of true leaders. Our youths are going astray in the absence of true role models. Our national economy has been pillaged and plundered to the extent that, we have become a laughing stock to the international community. We are now labeled a ‘fantastically corrupt’ country, and rightly so.
We are where we are today because we have failed as a nation to produce true leaders. We have entrusted our nation into the hands of ‘dealers’ in the guise of ‘leaders’. It is therefore obvious that what our nation needs more than ever now, are true leaders at the different levels of government, who will lead us out of this Egypt. Until our society becomes a fertile ground for breeding true leaders, we will continue to produce dealers.
Who is a true leader?
“The purpose and intent [of a true leader] shall be to elevate mankind’s faith, and to fill the world with justice” — Maimonides, Laws of Kings, 4:10.
A true leader is someone who provides guidance and direction to the people, through efficient and unbiased allocation of the resources of the people, and in a way and manner that conforms with the norms and values of such people, to the extent that he succeeds in raising other leaders from among the people. True leadership is in raising true leaders!
What are the marks of a true leader?
1. True leaders see: The most important mark of true leadership is ability to see far ahead into the future. That is why they are called visionaries. Most of our leaders can’t see beyond their noses. A leader sees into the future and knows where current steps will lead them. He is able to draw up a picture of the desired future based on what he has seen.
2.True leaders lead: Leaders take the lead, while others follow. They provide direction and communicate that direction clearly. Based on the vision they have, they lead the followers towards the vision. The word ‘lead’ suggests that there must be followers. True leaders are able to convince their followers such that the followers are comfortable to follow them. Many of our leaders today have no followers, either because they have not communicated the direction clearly or because they lack the moral authority to lead.
3. True leaders have integrity: True leaders keep to their words and promises. They don’t promise what they can’t do. President Barack Obama is being touted to be the best President the United States has ever had because he has kept to virtually all his electoral promises. Our leaders in Africa are full of promises and bereft of performance. Integrity breeds trust and trust commands followership. If you don’t have integrity as a leader, you can’t earn the trust of your followers, and without their trust, you are as good as a one man squad!
4. True leaders build others: You can only succeed to the extent that your followers are able to carry out your instructions. Their ability to perform their duties is a function of their capacity. As a leader, you must invest in building the capacity of your followers. Provide mentorship. Coach them. Train them. Sponsor them for training. Equip them to perform.
5. True leaders delegate: You can’t do it all. Build your team and then delegate appropriately. This gives your followers opportunity to learn and grow. As they succeed in their assignments, they become more confident and better at what they do. “A true leader wants nothing more than to make people stand on their own, as leaders in their own right. Instead of trying to blind us with his or her brilliance, a true leader reflects our own light back to us, so that we may see ourselves anew.” – Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Towards a Meaningful Life.
6. True leaders are accountable : True leaders have high sense of accountability. They are responsible in time management, resources management, and in their personal lives. Being accountable means ability to provide explanation on how resources have been utilized. Leaders don’t hide information from the followers. They act with utmost respect for the confidence reposed on them.
7. True leaders are selfless: They act in the best interest of the people rather than protecting their personal interest. In policy making and implementation, true leaders place the people’s interest above his interest. They are altruistic, patriotic and completely selfless. They sacrifice their personal comfort for national comfort.
8. True leaders are life learners: Leaders never stop learning. They are life readers. They don’t know it all too, but have the wisdom to learn from those who know it. They surround themselves with people who are informed. The moment you stop learning, you start dying.
9. True leaders exercise authority: True leaders are not afraid to exercise their vested power and authority when necessary. When there is a need to punish, they do so with sense of responsibility. When there is a need to take hard decisions, they don’t vacillate and push the responsibility.
10. True leaders are God fearing: If you have no regard for God, you cannot be a true leader. Your understanding of the fact that you are positioned by God for such a time and for such people, will help you to exercise your leadership with fairness and justice.
In conclusion, our world is groaning for true leaders to emerge, and you can be one. Leaders are not born, they are made. You can be a true leader, if you are willing to pay the price. Even if you have been leading wrongly, you can still change. Note that, no matter the level at which you lead, this applies to you.
Will you be a true leader?
God bless us all.
Good morning Africa!
Good morning Nigeria!