Someone once asked me, ‘what is leadership?’ That was so abrupt and unexpected especially bearing in mind that it was one of my friends who we had served together in different initiatives. So after some critical thinking and self examination, I now seek to respond to the same question based on my experience and what I have learnt thus far in different leadership responsibilities I have held and interaction forums that I have been part of.
I believe Leadership is:-
i. Service – It is living for the sake of others. It calls for a lot of sacrifice for you to be a leader as you have to put your people’s interests before your own; what is known as selflessness. When Jesus was speaking to His disciples, He said for you to be great you have first to be a servant; otherwise known as servant leadership. Service is derived from the Acronym SERVE which can be broken down to imply See and share of the future, Engage in developing others, Reinvent continuously, Value results and relationships and Embody values.
ii. Influence – Leadership is the ability to influence without titles otherwise it is positional authority. It also needs to influence without twisting of arms or hitting heads otherwise it becomes assault. John Maxwell in his book Developing the Leader Within You asserts that, “Leadership is the ability to obtain followers. He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.” This is a skill that can be learnt and developed especially in the way we communicate.
iii. Calling – A call is a yearning to serve for Christ. It is the heart of ministry. When you are concerned more about your rights than God’s will, benefits accrued than mission accomplished, success than obedience, external security than internal security and pleasing people than pleasing God, then this is not a calling. It is a job or career. A career threatens to remove Christ from the picture. Remember that God does not call the qualified. He qualifies those that He has called.
iv. Discipline – Note that Leadership cannot be taught. Its concepts can be taught but it has to be developed or exposed through experience either personal or that of others. As a discipline, it is facilitated in institutions of higher learning or by organizations. Its concepts have been shared through teaching in classrooms, social gatherings and discussion forums.
v. Process – It is not something that comes at the click of a button or at the snap of a finger. It is a process of growth coupled with openness and perseverance and seasoned with experience. It is needs to be practiced constantly and consistently for it to become a way of life. As a way of life, it is developed into a habit that determines your destiny.
vi. Passion – Leadership is all about a strong liking or enthusiasm towards something. It is an emotion deep in the soul. It is the push that keeps you going. It propels the actions we do that otherwise would have been neglected or overlooked. It is contagious!
vii. Accountability – As a leader you have to be accountable to yourself, what has been bestowed unto you and those who have put you in office. Honesty and taking of responsibility will be required for you to uphold accountability of the highest order. John Maxwell says that a good leader is one who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.
viii. Listening – A leader must stop and listen to others and be willing to including his people in decision making. It influences what we say to the people. We need to know that what is important is what people hear and not what you say. We therefore have to learn to listen to people for us to understand what they want and know what to offer.
ix. An art – Different artists have a unique way of expression. The same applies to leadership. That’s why we have different types of leaders in our society today. The uniqueness of a leader is influenced by his/her creativity and innovativeness. A leader must learn and apply new ways of doing things and move from the cliché that the people have been used to.
x. Mentorship – Recognize that you are not in leadership to stay. A time will come when you will have to leave office for other people to take up responsibilities. You therefore have to create a swift change of guard to the new crop of leaders. The first step to this is to mentor others and prepare them for office. It is a way of imparting in others that which you have a measure or skill in expertise. It is synonymous to empowering others. One of the best ways to do this is thorugh delegation of responsibilities.
Watch out for the next article that captures what leadership is not!