The ‘go-to’ leader

Extreme hunger came to all the land of Egypt, and the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh told all Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”

Genesis 41:55

Secretary to one of the Managers in Oriental Co. (Nig) Ltd., Dupe is your young, average lady that you could almost ignore in a gathering because there is nothing arresting about her persona. But she has an unmistakable mien of maturity about her. However, one thing distinguishes her from any other person in the office; she does not participate in popular gossip. For some strange reason, she is a confidant to several people, superiors inclusive, in the company when they have issues with their relationships and other critical life issues, including career path. And she seems to have an appropriate counsel for everyone that makes them have such confidence that they are not only safe with her but can depend on her word. Even her boss seeks her counsel from time to time; and she never disappoints.

Tunde has the mind of a strategist and a futurist with a long-term, holistic view of situations. Several times, the company has been saved from making bad turns because of his counsel. Not only that, he seems to have an uncanny capacity for encouraging and inspiring everyone around him. His professional colleagues count on him to resolve knotty issues relating to performance on the job. He seems to have an innate roadmap to navigate the waters of pressure and come out unscathed. Even though he is not much of a smooth talker or your regular glib communicator, his colleagues hang upon his every word as if he is an oracle. And they trust him to no end.

You have seen them. Dupe and Tunde exist in every organization, group or family. They are not necessarily the most elegantly dressed. Neither are they essentially the most good-looking. They don’t necessarily have the gift of eloquence. Yet, in an organization, people tend to flow towards them, hanging on their every word as if they were infallible. You could almost call them the oracle on the issues for which people recourse to them. They are known as ‘go-to’ persons. Wherever they find themselves, they come out as natural leaders.

Crisis is the vacuum that nature creates for dispositional leaders to emerge or manifest. Anyone, by virtue of academic, professional qualification, longevity of tenure, skills, or connections can be appointed to a position of leadership. However, dispositional leadership does not necessarily require any of these to manifest. In the biblical allegory of Joseph referred to above, Joseph was a prisoner before being summoned to the presence of the king of Egypt to interpret a dream in a national emergency. He stepped up to the plate, propounded a solution that was to help the nation maximize its gains in the years of plenty and to minimize attendant hunger in the years of leanness. In one instant, a forlorn prisoner became the national “go-to” person and assumed immediate leadership to provide direction for a nation!

The ‘go-to’ leader is a visionary. He lives the future in the present and has an uncanny ability to take people into that future. Vision and purpose are like Siamese twins. Without purpose, a vision might as well be fantasy. But without vision, purpose is guaranteed to derail. You cannot take people into a future you have not first envisioned. Vision is a leader’s eye into the future. Without it, we simply go around in circles with no particular destination in mind. The result is palpable confusion. ‘Go-to’ leaders stand out because they have an unusual capacity to see things from a futuristic, long-term perspective that makes them think systems while others think snapshots.

While others focus on problems, ‘go-to’ leaders focus on the solution. While others panic in a storm, they can literally sleep through it. Not because they don’t care, but because they are imbued with an inner assurance that every problem has a solution. Only solution-thinkers move systems forward. It takes no intelligence to identify problems. Several people in a collective are very adept at analyzing problems till they become paralyzed in their potentials for a solution. Like everyone else, the ‘go-to’ person can identify the problem. He can also analyze – probably than most. But that is where the similarity stops. While others stop at the analysis bus-stop, the ‘go-to’ person thinks through those problems and comes up with answers to the attendant questions. Those answers eventually lead to a way out of the collective logjam. Flippancy and reactive thinking are not in the character of ‘go-to’ people. Sometimes, they can be very blunt. But their sincerity cannot be faulted. This is the very reason why people keep going back to them.

A ‘go-to’ leader is a good listener. Everyone loves someone who can patiently listen to them. Sometimes, that is all that people need. It is not every time that people want someone to talk at them. Quite often, people know what they need and how to get it. But they need someone to listen, to reaffirm what they already know and to give a gentle, non-overbearing counsel where needed. How do you know if you are a ‘go-to’ person? How many people will think of coming to talk to you first when they have a problem or need someone to listen to them?

‘Go-to’ people are usually knowledgeable. Constantly reinventing themselves, they seem to always be one step ahead of their peers when it comes to knowledge. Unlike many however, they acquire knowledge to help others, not to impress or oppress them. Privileged knowledge enhances their capacity for servant-leadership rather than set them on an ego trip. Ironically, people are attracted to them because they don’t deliberately or consciously court or seek attention.

Compassion is at the heart of the ‘go-to’ leader’s operations. He carries other people in his heart and takes their burden as his. He takes responsibility for solving problems irrespective of who caused them or how they were caused. He provides a shoulder for others to cry on, not because he has no challenges of his own, but because he truly cares. He is more concerned about people than their status, shortcomings or unfortunate circumstance. This was the reason why multitudes flocked towards Jesus in his earthly ministry. He reached out to people with compassion at a level they never experienced with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of His time.

Would you confide in someone that you cannot trust? The Bible teaches in Proverbs 25:19 that confidence in an unfaithful person is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint! Painful right? To be a ‘go-to’ leader, build trust. Everyone, including you, wants to do business, work or live with someone that they can trust. People will naturally gravitate towards a leader with whom they can be naked without being ashamed. When people find such a leader, they will practically break and arm and a leg not just to be around him but to do his bidding.

When you become a ‘go-to’ leader, you naturally activate the Law of Obligation!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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