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Leadership And The Rules Of Engagement

You could hear a pin drop on the Assembly ground as the principal hollered “Are you deaf? Who ordered the students to boycott their meals? “I did sir” responded Joshua. “Then you must be punished for this. I will make you a scapegoat and teach you a lesson you will never forget.” The principal growled. Get me a cane’.  As he raised his hands to whip Joshua on his buttock, a murmur spread through the student body gradually increasing in tone, till the chant reverberated through the assembly. “Free Joshua” they chanted, “Give us good food!” As if on cue, all the students surrounded the principal and mobbed him, intending to toss him into the pit latrine. “Let him go” Joshua cried, but his plea fell on deaf ears.

The whole school was shut down for three months and Joshua was expelled and barred from going to any other school in Nigeria for the next two years. It was very devastating for Joshua.

What led to all this? The beans served for dinner was too watery and Joshua decided to do something about it as the head boy. –

Culled from Eureka Foundation profile, the hypothetical scenario painted above is a common practice among Nigerian youths either as leaders or followers. Whenever disputes arose between two parties especially the leaders and the lead, we always resorts to all sorts of irrational means to drive home our point. The worst of it all is that these means apart from causing long term damages; they end up producing results that never lasts.

Majority of us believe that our leaders only listen when our demand assumes violent dimension. Although this may be true to some extent, but that also goes to tell about the quality of leaders we have amongst those that govern over us, which in most cases are a manifestation of what they learnt and practiced over the years.

Obviously, there is a dearth of quality leaders in the right positions in Nigeria and this applies to leadership at all levels and strata in the society. Our corporate and political climate is full of examples of inadequate and ineffective leadership.

Every leader is a follower and every follower is a leader in his or her own right. If you are not a leader in your state, you may be in your local government, community or even family. If as a follower in your local government, you resort to violence against your local government Chairman, what will be your fate when your followers turn against you as their leader in your community?  We must learn to dialogue and resolve differences so that the atmosphere that may birth violence would not be encouraged. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

Leaders are not born, they are made and made through the things they learn and practice. We cannot make good leaders when as followers, we resorted to violence. We cannot expect our followers to be responsible if we had not been responsible when we were followers to some other leaders. If we want to be effective in leadership, we need to be open to new ideas, insights and revelations that can lead to better ways of accomplishing goals. “We need to understand that there are pitfalls in leadership and these pitfalls are what we would be able to avoid with the leadership capacity we develop over time.

These attributes were exactly what Joshua, the charismatic and unassuming head boy in the hypothetical scenario described above lacked. Needless to say that what he did was not the wisest thing to do in that circumstance. All he needed was the right skill set in engaging the authorities as well as keeping his colleagues calm, yet focused on their need against the outcome of his decision. Therefore, we must learn and practice all that is required to be good leaders so that we can be role models to our generation and generations yet unborn.

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