The ABC of leadership V
Continued from last week
W – Wholeness
One of the major challenges many leaders face is ensuring wholeness or completeness in their leadership. Many concentrate on what gives them public acclaim to the detriment of other aspects of their lives. They run on the wrong assumption that success in what they consider as the major aspect of their lives will make up for the consequence of their neglect of other aspects. But as they often find out, it does not work out that way and they regret their neglect. Leadership goes beyond occupational or financial success. A leader is a model and, consequently, must be exemplary in all aspects. That is what gives him wholeness. A leader must not just pay attention to his work or vocation; he must also pay attention to his health, marriage, faith and society. Therefore, a successful leader is one who is able to maintain a balance in all aspects of his life without subjecting any of them to neglect. It is only when that is achieved that his success does not leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Jack Welch, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric, is a globally-acclaimed successful man. Under his watch, General Electric’s value rose about 4,000 per cent. The company became one of the most successful and profitable businesses in the world. So successful was Welch as GE’s helmsman that at his exit in 2001, the board rewarded him with a severance package totaling $417million, which is regarded as the highest of its kind in history. Welch, who was named Manager of the Century by Fortune Magazine in 1999, and now in his eighties, is still courted by royalty across the globe and celebrated by presidents across the continents.
However, as successful as Welch is, his record is blighted; he couldn’t replicate his boardroom and workplace success in his home. He has been married thrice and divorced twice. He divorced his first wife, Carolyn, in 1987 after 28 years of marriage. He divorced his second wife, Jane, in 2003 after 13 years of togetherness. He is currently married to Suzy, his third wife. Welch admits that while he was building his career he had little time to build his home and was not there for his four children and his first wife. So, despite the glamour and adulation, he harbours a personal regret over his failure to be the kind of father he should have been.
John Maxwell, one of the best known leadership experts in the world, suffered a heart attack when he was almost 60 years. If not for the availability of advanced medical facility in the United States of America, where he is domiciled, he would have died. According to his account, the heart attack was a result of his overweight and lack of exercise. Maxwell is a workaholic who has impacted positively on millions of people across the world through his leadership training programmes and books. But while he was growing his career, he neglected his health and almost paid for that carelessness with his life. He had a second chance but not many people are that fortunate. So many people who sacrificed their health for their careers never really enjoy the fruit of their career success, those who do not die live everyday in pains.
Leaders must deliberately seek wholeness; success in one area is insufficient. The really successful leader is the one who is able to ensure a balance in all the parts that make his life whole. To be an excellent leader, in addition to your work, pay attention to your family, faith, health, and society.
X – Xenodochy
It is a leader’s function to make people feel welcome by creating the right environment that will make them thrive. A leader’s success is hinged on his team’s level of engagement, productivity and creativity. So, a leader has to practise xenodochy. He has to be hospitable and accommodating enough to make room for others’ differences.
The leader’s style determines the culture of his organization; the culture dictates the tone of the workplace environment and this plays a critical role in what the bottom line turns out to be. A leader’s style can choke productivity or give vent to it. It can either stimulate creativity or stifle it. It can inflame positive passion or take the wind off employees’ sail. The leader’s style is responsible for whether the organization remains a going concern or a sinking one. It can turn a prosperous business upside down or turn a struggling business right side up.
The reason for this is not shrouded in any mystery. Business growth is engineered by customer loyalty. There can’t be customer loyalty without customer satisfaction and customer satisfaction is a function of employees’ action, which is a whole gamut that starts with quality production and ends with excellent customer service. Employees don’t act in a vacuum; their actions are a reflection of their state of mind, their perception of their worth to the organization and their satisfaction with the organization, all of which are influenced by the workplace environment created by the leader.
So, the leader can make the employees work their hearts out for the organization even when the remuneration is not the best in the industry. In the same vein, he can make the workforce contribute just a fraction of its ability despite being well remunerated. The difference is in the leader’s understanding and practice of xenodochy.
Y – Yearning
Yearning precedes earning. Without yearning (desire), change remains elusive. It is only when there is a desire that challenges are overcome. Hence, every great accomplishment is birthed twice; first in the mind, then in the physical. Nothing great can be accomplished until it has taken root in the mind. The mind must first conceive of an idea before it is translated into reality. The conception of the idea is known as desire. The Wright brothers didn’t just wake up one morning to assemble an aircraft; their starting point was the desire to build an airplane. Dr Mike Adenuga did not just find himself running Globacom, the starting point was the desire to own a telecommunications company. Alhaji Aliko Dangote did not just become the richest African, the journey started long ago in his mind.
Webster’s Dictionary defines desire as “a conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment.” Desire is desirable because there is an end in sight. The end is either enjoyment or fulfillment. So, unless the end promises the assurance of giving a satisfaction, the desire for success cannot take root.
Though desire is the starting point on the journey to success, it has to be properly defined to become a reality. No one can find what has not been defined. What does success mean to you? It is not enough to want to run a great company, what is your own definition of a great company? Is it a company that is the market leader, a company that produces world class products, a company that offers great after sales service, or a company that goes an extra mile to make employees comfortable? What do you want to be known for as an organisation? To be propelled towards success, you have to define what success means to you.
It is good to desire wealth. But what does that mean? You must put wealth in perspective. What does being wealthy mean to you? Is it having N10million, N100million, N1billion or having property in various places or having a number of companies or having shares in a number of blue-chip companies? This must be put in proper perspective to produce the energy and drive that will result in the desired end. It is when a desire is defined that it is possible to know whether the mark is hit or missed. Defining the desire makes it possible to track progress.
Defining what you want is fine-tuning your desire to achieve clarity. Where clarity is lacking, speed cannot be achieved and success may be delayed, if it is ever achieved. To bring success within reach, you have to properly define what it means to you.
Defining your desire is very important because success does not have a universal application. Success is person, organization or situation-specific. The specificity of success cannot be achieved until it is defined.
Z – Zeal
Nothing separates failure from success more than zeal. The difference between excellence and mediocrity is rooted in zeal. The difference between a go-getter and an airhead is enthusiasm. Zeal blurs difficulties, blunts adversities and dulls the effect of disappointments. With passion no height is unattainable, no goal is unachievable, nothing is impossible. Those who are driven by passion go to any length to achieve the tasks assigned to them. They go beyond the call of duty to get the desired results. Achieving any significant thing in life will be an uphill task without zeal. Zeal is the seal of success. Zeal gives life power, energy and meaning.
Walt Disney was not the only artist or illustrator of his generation but what stood him out was his passion for arts. After taking classes as a boy to hone his skills, he took up an appointment as an illustrator when he turned 18 years. But he wanted to do more than he was being offered, so he moved to California and set up the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother, Roy. He, however, did not see himself as having arrived despite the immediate success he recorded. He threw himself more into the work and developed the popular character, Mickey Mouse. Success pushed him to work harder and he came up with more animated films. The more adulation he got, the more passionate he became and the harder he pushed himself. In 1950, he came up with Cinderella, which was hugely successful and in 1960, he released Mary Poppins, which won five Academy awards.
As a result of his passion, he veered into the amusement park business by opening the Disneyland in 1955. He also had a number of television programmes, including Walt Disney’s Disneyland and the Mickey Mouse Club.
Disney is regarded as a giant, not just among his generation of artists and illustrators, but even among those that came before him and after him because of his zeal. Passion is life, without passion life becomes humdrum. As observed by Donald Trump, without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.
Most people don’t know who they are, so they die as someone else. – Myles Munroe