Our topic of discussion for the next few weeks is “Leadership”.
This year we will go to the poll to elect our national leaders.
The honour is on each and every one of us who are eligible to choose our national leaders. Our vote will determine the kind of leaders we will have for the next four years.
As we prepare to go to the poll to vote for our leaders, I wonder if we have taken the time to reflect on our journey as a nation for the last thirty (36) years in terms of our leadership.
We need leaders who understand that they must “walk the talk” if real changes are to be realised. True leadership role models are missing. And, how are we going to address this urgent need facing our country today.
Let me begin by defining the word “leadership.” Leadership is influence, the ability of a person to influence others.
A person can lead others to the extent that he/she can influence them. This fact is supported by definitions of leadership by men and women who have themselves wielded great influence.
Leadership is an influence process that is directed at shaping the behaviour of others. However the leader to be really effective must not complicate matters in this process. The leader must have the ability to reduce complex issues into concise and straightforward statements of what should be done and the action steps to be taken, allowing the input of those involved.
Influence is a type of power, and power can be described as legitimate, reward, coercive, expert and referent.
Leaders may use each of these forms to influence people to arrive at certain goals but people can respond with commitment, compliance or with resistance. The leader exerts his or her influence in many different situations and must choose a different behavioural approach for each circumstance.
Only a moment of time is necessary to influence a person positively or negatively. Sometimes these moments of encounter leave an impact for a lifetime or eternity.
No matter how much we may try to deny it, each one of us leaves continually an impression, an impact, an influence upon another person, an influence to heal, to bless, to encourage, to edify, to wound, to hurt and to destroy.
A leader is a catalytic in nature. He or she caps the energy that is latent in his/her people. The leader must know how to find the correct stimulus, energise and motivate people, give them a will to win, and a desire to excel in life and become valuable contributors to the development of their country.
A leader turns the potential energy into active, productive, and exciting work!
True leaders are willing to change their style of leadership to adapt to changing needs. People’s needs change as they develop and mature. The needs of our country change as progress occurs. Change is inevitable. This takes constant adjustment and keeps leadership contemporary. Don’t greet change reluctantly.
People grow and change by stops, starts, jumps and fall-backs along a trend line. Ross Mooney, a psychologist, once compared human development to the exercise of walking.
A body is in balance when standing still. In order to walk, however, imbalance must be risked as one foot moves forward. In that state of disequilibrium, the body has a natural drive for stability; so the trailing foot is signalled forward and balance is regained.
Every change in our live whether as individuals or a nation that needs to be implemented, requires the leader to adjust and lead differently than before.
Let me sight one example in the Bible. While David was leading a band of men in the mountains fleeing from Saul, he had one style of leadership; but as King of Israel, he needed another.
David needed to be flexible in every situation he faced. Likewise we need to have flexibility to change when change is necessary. Bruce Cook says, “Versatility is the ability to adjust your behaviour as a leader to meet the changing needs of your people and of the situation.”
Versatility can be learned! Being versatile means you can adapt to other people’s differences. As you get to know people, you see their weaknesses, yet you must focus on their strengths. Being versatile means you identify the temperament tendencies and relational strengths as you change your actions to meet people’s needs.
In the light of this definition what can we say about the kind of influence our leaders have on us and our country? It is an assessment I leave for you to do as individuals.
For our country to go forward, change must take precedence over the way things are done now. Without a critical approach to life, there will be little change. Organisations, society and people rarely change for better without a healthy reflection.
By Rev. Eric D. Maefonea