Our fixed mindset sees leadership as only those in position of authority and in my view this is one of the biggest hindrances to nation-building in Nigeria. This misconception of leadership has led to the non-participation of most citizens in nation-building, resulting in a delay of our dream to live in and enjoy the benefits of a developed Nigeria.
To compound things, we have taken positional leadership to refer only those with a huge budget (political office holders, heads of government agencies, heads of organisations), those with large followings (religious leaders, regional champions and political godfathers) and those with titles and visible signs of wealth (moneybags, police officers, military generals).
These positional leaders weigh much power and influence, are hero worshipped by most citizens, are seen as above the law and operate as dictators. Yet, many citizens will do all in their power (even illegal things) to attain one of these categories.
What about the positional leaders in the home? Here we have mothers, fathers, senior siblings, family heads and mature children of parents who are old and retired. What about positional leaders in our schools (teachers)? What about us the citizens of this great country? Don’t we have authority as citizens? Interestingly, this category is where foundational influence occurs and it is the bedrock for nation-building.
Positional leadership is influence that comes with an office and that means, without that office, we are not considered leaders and lack influence. These sorts of leaders are bosses rather than our leaders because they didn’t and wouldn’t seek our permission to lead.
With my objective being to see more citizens participate in nation-building, we must see leadership beyond an authority given by an office but as an influence a person carries.
According to leading leadership expert, John Maxwell, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” With this understanding, our thinking must be that through our influence, we will build the Nigeria of our dreams.
So, how do we build influence?
Growth Mindset: The most important element for effective leadership through positive influence is a growth mindset. This mindset creates beliefs, intuitions and a response mechanism that sees possibilities out of impossibilities. Citizens with this mindset never give up; they believe in the possibility of their dreams and make sacrifices to bring it to pass.
As a result, they adopt a learning culture that ensures they are constantly growing. They are solution-focused, talking more about solutions that dwelling on problems. Their search for continuous growth through solution-focused learning makes them take various initiatives. They also love to volunteer as part of their initiative building and because they are action-based people.
This growth mindset lifestyle influences people around them and attracts others from afar. Even their biggest opponents succumb to their influence in the long run.
Core Values: Citizens of influence provide leadership for nation-building through their adoption of core nation-building values and live these out in their daily lives. In my book, ‘Nation-building: How to build and sustain a developed Nigeria’, I listed the core values as:
Compassion, Opportunity, Responsibility, Equality
Valour, Ambition, Liberty, Unity, Enterprise and Spirituality
Because of their living out these values, they are ‘servants’ to others, great team players, community builders and live humble, simple and transparent lives. This is why they weigh real influence on others.
Proactive Reproduction: In addition to our lifestyle of growth mindset and core values, we build greater influence by proactively reproducing ourselves in others. By doing this, we do not only become the change that we seek but we create the change that we seek in and through other citizens.
We do this through verbal and non-verbal communication (communicating about the Nigeria we sacrificing to build and how we are going about it), modelling a transparent lifestyle for others to see and emulate, and seeking out people we can mentor individually or as part of a group.
As we grow in this, we do not only become positional leaders but more importantly, we lead with the permission of those we serve. That means, people are attracted to our influence and willingly submit to our leadership.
Whatever your position in our nation, you have a place to influence people (younger or older) towards the buildng of a developed Nigeria and for everyone converted into nation-building by your influence, you reproduce others through them. True change is gradual and grows only through the reproduction of people of influence providing effective leadership at all levels and in all sectors.
You want a better Nigeria, what leadership are you providing?