The incomparability of character

The more I write, teach and work in shoe leather time-honored-non-negotiable leadership principles, the clearer it becomes to me that our major bane across every sphere of our national life is leadership. True leaders are very scarce in Nigeria and this is not limited to the corridors of power. I repeat, the issue I am raising at this moment affects every fiber of our national life!

To start with, a few weeks of leadership training can never produce rock-solid leaders, because true leaders take years to cook. This makes it almost impossible for a fast-track generation as the one we currently have to produce solid leaders. They scream and jump when they hear teachings on “faith” because faith is now, but they would reject what you are teaching when you begin to teach them that faith needs patience to produce enduring results.

In the same vein, we are doing a great disservice to the future of Nigeria and Africa as a whole—teaching that folks within our spheres of influence can get in a day what took us more than 20 years to get. It is a major deception in leadership. No one becomes anything tangible without many years of rigorous-process. I have studied extensively on how people become leaders—both in the pool of religion and muddy water of politics. There is no one leading in the sphere of politics today that did not carry bags for those ahead of him or her for years. They expended and exhausted many years to follow closely those who were ahead of them. Today, no one wants to follow anyone, but everyone only wants to lead. It doesn’t work that way.

It takes years of patience and endurance to build character, solid character, because character is everything in leadership. We are living in an age where charisma is rated far above character, though. This is one of the major reasons why we are having a lot of ruin in every area of our national life. We are now having men who are so gifted, but empty when it comes to character and they are occupying major leadership positions in the land.

Many years ago, I was posted to Plateau State for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps program (NYSC). On an afternoon, I switched on my small radio set to listen to a radio show. A would be political leader was invited to speak on an issue affecting us as a people. And he spoke eloquently, sweeping me off my feet. A few years after, he was given an opportunity to serve and it became known to all that he is just a gifted man, he has no character at all! Today, when he talks, no one listens anymore. This is what happens when you are rich in charisma, but bankrupt in character.

It is an error in leadership to appoint someone into a leadership position using the gauge, benchmark and standard of charisma alone. He is definitely going to be a misfit in leadership! Today, there are many square pegs in round holes in leadership, because charisma is being rated above character. This is one of the major reasons why we are having so many people in leadership positions—who are not well-prepared leaders.

Before choosing a leader, you need to critically consider a few things. One of them is: a prospective leader must have a good reputation. He or she must have a good name. He can be so gifted, but if he has no good name, he is not supposed to be considered for a leadership position. Today, rogues are being elevated to varied leadership positions in our clime, because this important leadership-issue has been relegated to the background. No wonder we are mass-producing rogues in our nation today. Remember, people usually take after their leaders!

Also, before putting someone in a leadership position, you need to find out if he or she has control over his sleep. Leaders sleep, don’t misconstrue me, but they do not sleep like followers do sleep. To a leader, sleep is secondary. When he needs to attend to leadership issues, he is disciplined enough to sacrifice his sleep. He controls his sleep; his sleep does not control him.

He also must have a very strong control over his appetite! This is very crucial, because most African leaders do not have control over their appetite and craving. This is why they are using to serve themselves what they are supposed to be using to serve the common man. He who does not have control over his appetite will be greedy. Today, in Africa, we have too many charismatic-greedy-people in varied leadership positions. This is not supposed to be so.

Rounding off, to become a rock-solid leader, you would need to develop a very strong control over your emotion. You cannot become an effective leader if your emotion is controlling you, instead of you to be the one calling the shots of your emotion. Great leaders are usually in-charge of their emotions. Till I come your way again next time, see you where great leaders are found!