By Tolulope A. Adegoke
This write up, by implication of its contents aim to solve the societal menace that have ravaged, hampered and tampered with the spinal cords of majority of leaders in the Third World Countries, which has its roots in what I refer to as Untamed Freedom- the root cause of Character failure in humans, corporates and nations at large. We all must understand that true leadership penetrates into the core aspect of human relations and endeavours which helps to nurture, build and deliver the authentic requirement for true and sustainable leadership, and how it affects the economy and politics of nations and the world at large. It focuses on ‘Character’ as the main and authentic key for leadership, how relevant it could be and why and as well how to harness it to building future leaders locally, nationally and globally for the benefits of mankind. It also dived into the internal affairs of some developing nations in the world and how they have suffered from ineffective leadership practices through unethical conduct. It also looked into how ‘Ethics’ could be said to be a disturbing aspect of leadership and how it has so much affected majority of the Third World Countries who are having issues in handling sustainable leadership. It therefore concludes with how a nation like Nigeria could enlarge its coasts by judiciously maximizing its endowments through effective ‘Character’ in individual and joint leadership endeavours, thereby enlightening the readers with the facts that character sees people as great ASSETS and not properties. The researcher adopted Historical and Thematic Analysis in carrying out the research.
I ponder so hard on ‘How do we then build leaders of today? I shall focus on the Power of Character (as vital requirement for leadership in Nation Building)’ with the aim of building capacity through greater enlightenment strategy towards fixing today, and as well handing over a better world to coming generations globally
Do you know why leaders are so weak in many developing countries of the world? The reason is that they lack CHARACTER. Lack of character is what makes bad leadership, and bad leadership is what breeds gross mismanagement and misconducts, while misconducts and mismanagement are what destroys or impedes national growths and development. Bad leaders are one thing in the day and another thing in the night! They make deals that are shady and then look pretty or handsome on the camera. They rule instead of leading; they grind instead of guiding.
The Bible says, God is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever! It also reveals that Night and Day are the same to God! This is a clear indication that God has CHARACTER! And He has given unto us the same thing called CHARACTER! If you are going to be what you were born or created or desired to be (future leaders), then, you must develop the first principle God gave to us (MAN) which is CHARACTER! For us to deliver the present and future, and as well fulfill divine intentions (purpose), we need to study God Himself and His manner of operations and creations according to Genesis chapter 1 verses 26 (NKJV): ‘Let us make Man in Our IMAGE after our likeness: and let them have DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ Nothing is therefore IMPOSSIBLE, because I and you came out of God. He is the most authentic leadership example to be followed; He has made us in His IMAGE and LIKENESS to have DOMINION over the works of His Hands. It should be noted that the first gift given to Man by God is IMAGE. Whatever God gives you first is what you need first.
What is IMAGE? Image simply means CHARACTER. God said let Man have my CHARACTER. The most important thing you need to become what you were born to be (which is a LEADER) is CHARACTER. The number one fitness in leaders today is CHARACTER. It is the foundation of leadership! Everybody was born to be a leader, but, we are not meant to rule over people! Leaders lead by examples, guides by principles and guard by strategies. Leaders lead in specific areas of gifting or expertise. The word CHARACTER means FIXED,
PREDICTABLE, STATUE, SET, STABLE, STEADY, DEPENDABLE, READY and WORK! These are qualities which are unchanging and dependable like the STATUE. For example, have a good look at a STATUE; what is it doing where you put it or fix it? Whatever inflictive words you say to the ‘statue’, it still stands? That is simply CHARACTER!
As a leader that you are wired or desired to be, can we trust you to be the same, even in the dark? Are you the same person when no one is watching? What would you do if none would ever find out? What are those things you secretly do on your mobile phones or laptops or on the internet? Are you the same person all the time? Are you the same person even when given freedom or power? When life rains on you, are you the same person? Are you the same person, no matter what people say to you or about you? That is why Third World Countries are having issues handling true and sustainable leadership! What is commonly present in those regions of the world are RULERS not LEADERS, due to lack of CHARACTER.
REQUIREMENTS OF CHARACTER FOR SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP
Do you have CHARACTER? When you change location, are you still the same person? LEADERSHIP demands CHARACTER. A reliable example of Character is PRINCIPLE, because it is Constant, it never changes. When you throw something up, it falls down… it is like that everywhere. Leadership requires CONSISTENCY! This is because the will of God never changes. No matter where you go, gravity is constant. Do you have Character? I want you to keep encouraging yourself to keep on developing CHARACTER. As future leaders, who are empowered to save the future, to impacts our world positively, we must be unchanging (i.e consistent on the positive sides) if truly we are going to develop our powerful leadership capacities.
THE DISTURBING ASPECT OF LEADERSHIP
The major disturbing aspect of leadership which most leaders do not consider to develop is ETHICS. Ethics is as a result of character! The power of unethical behavior affects everyone in the community, society, state, nation and the world at large. Ethics is personal, but it is never private! A few business or political leaders have no ETHICS; they make some unethical moves that can affect everyone. When you violate character, it is a personal decision, but it is not a private issue. You affect all of us. That is why corruption must never be tolerated anytime, because one corrupt person affects everyone. Many developing nations are still struggling with their economy today, because of unethical behaviours by a majority which has fully established CORRUPTION as a practice that can now be overlooked, which have crippled the economy of these nations. Many people consider Nigeria a poor nation in spite of all the natural resources she is endowed with (Precious stones, crude oil, very fertile soil among others), because just a few set of people are unethical which affects the entire population in the country. So many investors are currently scared to invest in some part of the developing nations, because there are just a few set of people who would abuse such an investment which has therefore deprived so many people of the opportunities to be employed or t become job owners, just because a few people are unethical. You therefore need to tell your neighbor ‘Do right for my sake’. If great leaders who have been absorbed by history had decided not to do what is right, what do you think would have happened to us today? A few chose to stand right, do right and make right. One decision could have affected the entire world. This is why it is so important for you to have character for the sake of the millions who will look up to you some day! This is why your gift is critical to your generation, but protecting it is much more important. GREED is a matter of CHARACTER. When a research on the major cause of crisis in the world was made, it was said that some set of people had GREED, and greed became a global phenomenom. Discipline powers character for effective leadership.
Character and Ethics are national and global security issues. Living right is a global security issue. When you live right, you are simply affecting a lot of people vice-versa.
THE TESTS AND TRIALS OF LEADERSHIP
Character is developed by ‘testing and trials’. Testing is the development of ETHICS. Character is built or developed through pressure, temptation (trials) and resolve. The credibility of leadership is character! The force of leadership is character! The trust of leadership is character! The legitimacy of leadership is character! The integrity of leadership is character! The reason why people still celebrate Nelson Mandela, Koffi Annan among others is because he was tested and trusted. The reason why Nelson Mandela had so much credibility all over the world is because, while he was alive he went through a test of 25years in prison, because of a conviction he had, he was just like a statue with this notion:
I cannot bend; I am going to jail just like this;
I believe in what I see, I believe in a dream,
I believe in my convictions, because they are right,
I will not compromise, I will not change!
Nelson Mandela stayed faithful, he went through the test and trials, and people trusted him. In prison, he was the same, he was beaten mercilessly, he was the same, when he had to cut the rocks with chisel, he was the same, and when he came out of prison he was still the same, and was made the President of South Africa, because he was the same. People could trust him.
Even the Dr. Myles Monroe (of blessed memory) once said:
‘People often look at me as if I was born the way I look, but i have been through a lot of things, pressures, scars on my back, tribulations, criticisms, attacks, but I decided, I believe what I believe! I stay steady! The world reads my books, I have been invited to over a hundred and fifty-two nations across the world and they wondered: who is this young man, but I have developed my character through tough times.’
Anybody could begin something, a few people finish! How many things have you begun, how many things have you started managing, how many of it have you finished? Where is your character? Are you steady under pressure? Can you be faithful under being disappointed? Can you still believe when no one is with you? When you have character, you are ready to go alone! Everybody is evil, not me! Everybody is corrupt, not me! Everybody is failing, not me!
You have to work by yourself to develop character! Your innate gifts are at the mercy of your character! Your character is more important than your gifts, because without character, you can lose your gifts. That is why God gave Man CHARACTER (His IMAGE) before He gave him DOMINION (Control). Most people lose their provisions because they lost their character! That is why it is important for you to protect yourself by your character (IMAGE), and that is why character (IMAGE) is God’s utmost priority! Character is necessary for DOMINION (Control), it guarantees a tamed- freedom.
Character breeds decent followers; it builds them into enviable leaders that can ‘MANage’ the natural resources as given them by God, and then, put them into appropriate and decent usage for the good of all mankind. Leadership is simply service to humanity, it is not selfishness, not greed, not abusive…Only character determines and promotes service. Service is followership, help; it is the authentic exhibition of our innate being. Character builds a nation; it builds kingdoms, Empires, family and the world at large. Character tames freedom so as not to
abuse absolute power; it promotes sustainable peace and global development that guarantees the handing over of a better world to coming generation. It is a baton which must be passed on and on forever. Life is a mysterious gift given to man by God Almighty embedded with so many hidden treasures… its usage is up to man, but only the deeds of men pollutes it!
Character therefore, should not be mistaken for REPUTATION. Reputation has become much more important in the world today than character, and that is a tragedy, because, position has become more important than disposition. As a matter of fact, we need leaders with character, not leaders with personality! Some people have well packaged personality but lack character, yet they are the most celebrated in our world today. Many people are well branded as dignified figures vying for leadership positions, unfortunately, ignorant people rush up to them, vote them in, then the economy and political structure of their countries crashes! Instead of voting the man with CHARACTER (i.e the right IMAGE), which compliments leadership to the position of reliable leadership. This is simply the reason why I chose this topic: ‘HOW DO WE BUILD FUTURE LEADERS’? Which focuses on CHARACTER in Nation Building in today’s world).
Nigeria and other developing nations must first of all confront their domestic problems by consolidating their democracy. Democracy is not just the question of holding periodic elections, Important as this is, it means developing a democratic culture underpinned by the rule of law. We must build an egalitarian society with careers opened to talents. It should be possible for any (Nigerian) talent(s) to rise to any position that these talents entitle him or her. We must face the question of the economy squarely. Fifty-eight years after independence, we still operate a dependent economy based on export of raw materials and industries of import substitution. We must reverse the process by building industries, particularly agro-based industries in which we have comparative advantage. Nigeria (my Country) can support huge textile and garment industries based on local production of cotton. This is also an industry which the current regime of the World Trade Organization favours for developing countries. The so-called Tiger economies of South East Asia, China and India virtually dominate the textile and garments industry of the world. We ought to be able to compete with Israel and the United States in providing the world with properly packaged tropical fruits. We should cut our tastes for unnecessary luxury goods and use what we can produce. We need to open our market to investments from the outside world. One hopes present policies in this regards would be determinedly pursued.
The economy is a major factor to earning respect in the international system and we must do everything to develop our economy. There is no strategy of economic development better than those that have been tried and that have worked in the Western liberal democracies. Any attempt to graft economic development on an authoritarian regime will fail. Character is key factor! We need to take a look at the example of Botswana (few years ago), when and where honest and liberal government and proper management of national resources and patrimony have led to development. Character sees people as greatest ASSETS and not properties.
Value your fellow man greatly, they are the only tool that can stand by your side anytime any day, they shall be the one to continue your leadership processes in the future for the benefits of all as a result of your tremendous impacts on them. The assignment of leaders is not to raise followers, but leaders through greater impacts by living a life of great examples and never to forget to help them with emotional intelligence which is key factor for leadership inputs and outputs.
By Tolulope A. Adegoke