It is startling to discover that today, some view leadership as one of those phenomena so far removed from them. Indeed, nothing could be more further from the truth. Leadership is so wrapped around us that that the earlier we realize it, the better for us all. The truth is, everyone is a leader of some sort from leadership in the home, to that in the classroom, agencies, social groups, family circles, dormitory rooms, small units, supermarkets, stores, offices and so on; we are all involved! So, being thrust into leadership is not a matter of having a title, holding a position or cunningly manipulating or coercing others to follow one. It is integrally an issue of influence influencing in the right direction.
In that light, we can identify two broad forms of leadership. The lowest but most essential level of leadership is leading ones self. That is, influencing (being in charge of) ones life; living in a focused, organized, coordinated and well-directed manner. Beyond that however, one may lead one, two or more persons. Instructively, true success in this second form of leadership greatly depends on success in the first. An everyday example of one leading another can be seen where a young person is being accommodated by an older relative or, an older sibling showing the way for the younger ones. Naturally, the responsibility of leadership falls on the older relative; meanwhile, the actualization of this will depend on his or her preparedness for such via personal leadership. If it is the younger one who has ingrained leadership qualities in himself, he will tacitly show the way. Moreover, if he also is ignorant, then the situation is better left imagined.
This pragmatic viewpoint shows clearly that opportunities to lead will always come. The question is how prepared are we to handle such at any given time? It is unfortunate that only a microscopic few allow themselves to be moulded along leadership lines. Desperately however, we all, particularly youths, must deliberately drill into ourselves those virtues that make the difference. Excellence must be our watchword. Discipline, decorum, probity, integrity and resourcefulness must be cultivated.
Similarly, we must become more responsible in our followership. Good followership enhances good leadership. We must understand this because actually, every leader in one setting is a follower in the same or another. For instance, the elder child follows parental guidance but should also give direction to his sibling; the president may be the overall leader of a country but he may also have a leader in religious or family contexts and so forth.
The ultimate question is, how positively are we influencing ourselves? Then, how profitably are we influencing others? Above all, the world today is in dire need of leaders in every sphere of human endeavour. We must brace up to the challenge and prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead.
Ogaga Eruteya is passionate about serving God and humanity. He believes people ought to be the best God wants them to be. He writes from Oyo, Nigeria.