I woke up by 4am today to pray but realized that for a few hours my mind could not concentrate on anything but the recently concluded elections in Nigeria and its impact on our democracy. As someone that is very passive in politics and also not a card carrying member of any political party, I “sat on the balcony” to evaluate all that had transpired in the political landscape in the last few years. My major aim was to take one or two life lessons from the scenery before moving on. In the process, I noted a few lessons for leaders and felt it was pertinent to share them with my friends… I hope you find some of these points useful and if you don’t, just pardon me – I just like to learn and share daily.
- Integrity always pays
APC had some great people with better eloquence, charisma, financial stamina and intellectual capacity than Buhari, but they understood that to take power from the ruling party, something more than all these was needed. So they zeroed in on character and integrity. Buhari may have some reports of integrity issues, but largely, the perception of his integrity stood him out. Majority of people could trust that he would stand for the right thing.
When it was time to select his running mate, Osinbajo emerged. As soon as he was announced, many people went down history books to find at least one integrity issue against Osinbajo but found none. The whole nation agreed that Buhari had a running mate of impeccable character and integrity. With the reports of corruption and missing monies here are there, integrity was the priceless virtue for the opposition to flaunt to voters.
Leaders ought to always stand for integrity as it pays off both in the long and short run. When the chips are down, the person of integrity will always be sought for. Ironically even thieves look for people of integrity to manage their monies for them. The world is in dire need of people of integrity and will always look for those who have integrity wired into their DNA.
- Reputation is key in the information age
Did you notice that in the last four years, Lai Mohammed, the publicity secretary of APC appeared to make statements daily that featured in the press? He consciously and unconsciously steered the minds of many Nigerians towards a particular thinking pattern and acted as John the Baptist of the popularly heralded “change”. We have already seen that a number of the bigwigs in APC were from PDP, and since leopards hardly change their skin, we may not expect so much change from a number of them. However, the perception of change was definitely stronger than the possibility of change – and that affected APC’s fortunes in the elections.
Leaders need to consciously guard their reputation every day. Our reputation (good or bad) precedes us and remains long after us. With a great reputation, a lot of work is already done without uttering a word. Our personal brand is key in this information age, and it must always work for us.
- Unlocking the potentials of our team will make us fly
When it was reported that Buhari gave Tinubu the privilege to choose his running mate, many attributed that to be a sign of weakness. But I think Buhari demonstrated teamwork (if that report was correct). In a team, there is a place where everyone adds the most value. Buhari may have “discipline” and “integrity” going for him, but Tinubu is regarded as one of the best political strategist in modern Nigeria. The choice of Osinbajo by Tinubu was a master stroke. From winning Lagos state several years ago to taking over south west zone and later playing a critical role in midwifing a powerful merger to form APC, many claim to have justifiable reasons for giving Tinubu such political recognition.
Great leaders learn to always tap from the best of their team. Leadership must be consultative if it must attain a superlative position. Flag bearers at any point in time should constantly unlock the best of the best ideas of their people.
- Never undermine the power of unity
One of the parables of Jesus Christ that is so common in politics today is– a house divided against itself cannot stand. Being in the opposition somewhat united APC and while they were forming various alliances, the PDP chieftains were busy fighting among themselves to the point that the former party leader (Obasanjo) was reported to have openly torn his membership card. Today we have seen the result of massive cracks in the walls.
Leaders should constantly strive to keep their teams united and take urgent steps to mend any cracks that may exist- in their walls. There is no need ignoring cracks or pretending there are none if they exist. Whatever we excuse today will accuse us tomorrow.
- Challenges are opportunities to write your name in gold
I will not end this without appreciating President Goodluck Jonathan. He is widely regarded as a good man with a bad team, and like John Maxwell once said – a good dream with a bad team is no more than a nightmare. While this opinion is very debatable, the main point I however want to stress is that – every challenge is an opportunity to write your name in gold. Jonathan had 1001 reasons to reject the poll results or use his powers to disrupt the peace of Nigeria. But in one of the most challenging moments of his life, he made a historic effort to save his legacy and country from chaos by accepting defeat and congratulating Buhari before the final results were officially announced. This singular action will definitely stand him out in life going forward as he would be respected internationally as a good example, and he can chart some international work for himself at least to keep him busy after tasting the ‘anointing’ of GCFR.
No matter the pressure or challenges we may find ourselves daily, the power to write our name in gold rest solely on us.
- Overtaking the competition is not as difficult as people think
It took APC less than a year since its formation to win an election that will make PDP to become the opposition party. With a little here and a little there, they kept on aiming at the No. 1 spot. I recall that in 2009, the then national chairman of PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, bragged that PDP would rule Nigeria for at least 60 years. However in the last 6 months, they started trying to play the catch up game when it dawned on them that the APC had gained significant political mileage. But today we have witnessed the fall of the mighty.
Leaders must constantly steer their team to the top. It is said that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement, and leaders must explore this room daily. Another great lesson here is that even when we get to the top we should never relax on our oars
All the best as we aim to finish strong where we lead.
– Tope S. Aladenusi