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Leadership lessons from your neighborhood

When he was later removed and criticized, the Baba said he didn’t believe that after coaching children about an examination, it was necessary to also…

When he was later removed and criticized, the Baba said he didn’t believe that after coaching children about an examination, it was necessary to also go into the exam hall and help them write their papers!  Well, maybe football is not exactly like mathematics.  Or JAMB exams.  In football, as in leading a people, much has to do with how emotions are managed – on and off the pitch.  It is all about people-management.
Trending currently on DSTV, is an ad by Guinness. Trust these beer companies to create great, catchy adverts that keep their patrons hooked permanently.  Some people have jumped to their deaths around the world, because some beer company promised – through their adverts – that the alcohol in their brew will give them automatic wings and turn them to Captain America or Superman! But that aside, this fantastic advert trending right now, features some guy who went for a training to become a coach. A white man shows up to teach this group of black chaps how to be a coach. Part of the coaching included how to use your arms to gesture your players to move in certain directions. Another part of the advert was to learn how to throw tantrums (hopefully without having a heart attack).  The students had to throw down their water bottles with force – the way coaches let players know just how angry they are.  That part reminded me of Jose Murinho – that vibrant International Coach, who employs all sorts of tactics, including his studied profession (psychology) – in demoralizing opponents by talking rubbish and so on.
Perhaps Baba Onigbinde should have attended the coaching classes of Guinness Stout.
This is not about football though – since 70% of Nigerian men and boys, use 70% of their brain cells to digest, argue and fight over the English Premier League.  This, is about leadership. And body language as an integral part of communication is a very essential and critical part of leadership, especially at a social level. Even at a corporate level, this factor is also super-critical for the success of leaders and their organisations. At a political level, well… what more can be said? Since a political leader will not build all the roads himself, and lecture at all the universities at the same time himself, how else does he make it clear as day, what exactly he desires for every strata of society, in a way that will galvanise action and commitment from his army of followers and officers?  
In Nigeria just a week ago, the argument was about how the No 4 man, Tambuwal, said that the President’s ‘body language’ encourages corruption.  Whereas I am not a politician and would not want to take sides in that affair, I was rather shocked when the president’s people fired back, asking if Tambuwal was a ‘sorcerer’, who reads people’s body languages.  I felt a better response should have been put up, not the present querulous cacophony that we see these days that the government is being barraged from all angles.
For Tambuwal was right, to the extent that body language is critical in leadership. He should have been asked what part of the body language is giving him the impression he expressed.  But this takes me back to the beginning.  The most sanguine act of authentic leadership is to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. It is said that no matter what a leader says, followers will always and always, DO WHAT A LEADER DOES. Of course it goes without saying, that one cannot be a leader except one has at least one follower.  Followers merely mimic the leader in behavior, even though they may act as the leader says when the leader is around to monitor their behaviours.  Any leader who chooses to say one thing, and act another, is nothing but a phoney, and the results will usually show, in the dysfunction of the organization, or society, or family, which he/she leads.  
I usually emphasise the need for congruity in thought-speech-action by recalling a certain story told of Mahatma Gandhi, who gave some stirring ex-tempore (off-the-cuff) speech at the British House of Commons a long time ago, as India sought its independence from the Colonial Master.  When Gandhi started his speech on that day, the usual heckling by belligerent MPs came up. “This half clad man, go home and dress properly!” some of them jibed, in reference to Gandhi’s decision to discard the English suit for his people’s loin cloth, singlet and slippers.  In time, even the hecklers fell silent, and Gandhi received a standing ovation 30 minutes later. An MP approached one of Gandhi’s Pas to find out how Gandhi is able to achieve such authenticity and the answer he got was: “You see Gandhi… what he thinks is what he says… and what he says, is what he does”.  The problem with most modern politicians is that they think one thing, say another, and act something entirely different from their thoughts and speeches.  This is true, whether in Nigeria or abroad.
But to hack back a bit, note that LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE, may not work quickly when the followers suffer some degree of attention deficit, when their values have become warped, or when all sorts of ill-education distracts them from what should be their proper focus.  That is why a leader must be a super-communicator, as a way of reining back the attention of his followers to the issues at hand. Never assume that people will do as you do, just because they like you. In a place like Nigeria, people would often take such a leader for a fool. That is why a leader must be a great, rousing speaker, a great, moving writer, have good carriage (see when Obama races up the stairs into the Airforce 1), and also, show emotion by getting angry sometimes (a la Oshiomole), or sad, or happy.  Today’s leaders however need some tact in managing the emotions they show openly, because social media could take those emotions out of context.  A leader must however know that there is power in repetition. That is what news media have mastered – the reason why the news is repeated every 30 minutes such that even if they news was false, constant repetition turns it into ‘accepted truth’. A good leader, with good intentions for his people, must repeat what he deems beneficial for his people, until such becomes a reality.  
Another quirk that we hear often in our environment, is when leaders say “I didn’t start the problem”.  A leader should know that all problems under his purview become his, else he/she should not even aspire. True leaders NEVER shift blames.  Leadership is service, hardwork, dirty work, responsibilities, not mere photo opportunities and ego trips.
Finally, a good leader must learn to INCENTIVISE tactfully.  Little resources, expended in the right way, goes a long way in causing the changes that we want.  Every political leader knows this.  Incentives to followers could be monetary, emotional (empathy in distress), tangible, or otherwise. If a leader’s heart is pure, this will work like magic, but if vice versa, it is an agent of further destruction, as we have seen when Nigeria was turned into a corruption Mecca.

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