Saturday, 13 February 2016

Exploring The Fundamentals Of Leadership

One isn’t supposed to be reminded that this is 2016. I am not merely stating this as a matter of commonality but as a reflection on how convincingly many people promised to zealously pursue their New Year resolutions. As an individual, I no longer fancy the hype that comes with the New Year in terms of the goals or the things that we need to accomplish but rather, I normally seek to be a better person as compared to the past year(s). Basing on this, each year I always look forward to continue amassing a lot of knowledge and information by perusing hundreds and thousands of pages of books. I do this with a flick of perfection, a touch of wizardry and a high sense of passion for this habit. To me, reading is not like any other activity but it is an event that ignites the faculties to wander about in the quest for soul-searching and above all it triggers the underlying intellectual potency which transmogrify our personality in toto.

This month of February I began reading a very wonderful book known as ‘Good-To-Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap and Others Don’t’ authored by one Jim Collins. I must remark that is one of the greatest reads that lies in my library. Its thematic disposition is generally centred around magnificent leadership versus a leadership that treasures, values and cherishes mediocrity. My intention in this write-up is not to conduct a book review for this immaculate piece and intellectual citadel of transformational leadership but to try and bring out the basics of leadership that have often been overlooked through ignorance and arrogance in the form of assumptions. Superficially, though, reference to Jim Collins’ art and work of intelligentsia might be made.

What comes to an individual’s mind when the word leadership is uttered or mentioned? Most of the individuals if not all will bear thoughts of the structured positions of power and responsibility that exist in the society or community. This is a misstep and a mistake all combined, pooled and woven into one. To me this is not how we are supposed to view leadership. We ought to think about our personal lives and most importantly we should have thoughts and imaginations about the social relationships that we build and forge with other people. In as much as one may present an argument on how social relationships lay the foundation for leadership but mostly we forget leadership vis-à-vis our private lives and family. 

One of the fundamentals of leadership that is overlooked by those entrusted with positions of responsibility centres around humility. It is a well-known fact that not all who are in positions of leadership are humble. A handful bunch of them often display arrogance of course with no apologies hinged on such behavior. In his description of the ideal leadership that makes organizations leap from being good to being great, Jim Collins talks about the level 5 type of leadership. He spells out that this type of leadership assumes a dualistic nature in the form of personal humility and professional will. Humility is a virtue, difficult and challenging to cultivate and inculcate but more rewarding if it is encrypted in our hearts, our minds and our souls which synergistically engender our different, diverse and dynamic personalities. I usually find it quite dumbfounding and negatively amazing on just how the level of madness and inebriation that individuals acquire just because of power and authority. It is because of the unwillingness to be humble that as individuals we hardly relate with people in a sober manner. We are often on a collision path.

Another leadership fundamental that is assumed more often is the aspect of small details. Small details are usually ignored with the pretext that bigger things will initiate and accelerate the change that we envision and hasten the achievement of the desired results. This is absolutely WRONG. Why is it wrong? It is simply because bigger details don’t imply the ability to draft and craft the ‘bigger picture’ perspective. The ‘bigger picture’ perspective simply relates to strategic thinking which embraces the two important poles of foresight and forethought. Leadership is a mission that calls for the captain to have this perspective intrinsically embedded in his/her personality. This perspective can never be a reality if the smaller details are ignored. Obtaining the ‘bigger picture’ mentality will only be possible if much seriousness will be accorded and more than special attention paid to the small details.

Most importantly, for the art of leadership to be executed with a great sense and flair of perfectionism, attention needs to be paid to the reality of the situation. This is what my leadership teacher Jim Collins refers to as confronting the brutal facts. He gives a detailed account on how people entrusted with leadership should be able to face the reality of the matter. If the problem or rather the challenge is about fact A, then why assume fact A and jump on to activity B? This can clearly be equated to an ostrich burying its head in the sand in the wake of danger with the fantasy that the impending danger will go away. This is indeed an ideal definition of oneirism. Naturally, nearly all human beings will always find a way of dodging the hard truth. Most leaders have failed, are failing and will continue to do so just because they remain adamant in confronting the issues that make success to be delusional. It is a fact that paragons of leadership will always talk about.

We also need not forget about the mentality of creating and making mountains out of molehills. This is a mentality showcased by leaders who have been overshadowed by inferiority complex. I am one individual who abhors such kind of mindset. I am pretty sure that in our lives we have encountered such persons who make small tasks to appear as if they are gargantuan duties comparable to hacking a dinosaur to death using the simplest, most ineffective primitive tools of hunting. It might work, yes, but it may not work fairer. You may come across leaders who complicate simple things by making them seem complex matters which causes a lot of derailment for the entire team. This a fundamental which needs to be observed with the highest level of seriousness. Such leaders who tend to make mountains out of molehills have some sort of personality disorder and psychosocial distortions in that they come out as having narcissist personalities and being nagging individuals, always complaining about almost everything. If for heaven sake you are in a position of leadership and responsibility, it’s very important that you assume the appearance of being cool, calm and collected however tumultuous the situation may be.

The final leadership fundamental that should be more of a commandment is the knack ability of putting first things first. This calls for focus on letting the main thing be the main thing. Most leaders often fail to propel their entities to success because they decide to pursue a number of issues which are important but less relevant and urgent. Mastering the art of tackling matters that matter most guarantees progress which Jim Collins refers to as the fly-wheel. In conclusion, leadership is not meant for everyone but if we strive for it, we are sure to lead better lives as individuals and even have better relationships, marriages and workplaces.

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