Leadership Series (27): Who Is A Genuine Leader? By Victor A. Imhangbe

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When you are genuine as a leader, you’ve got to understand that your position demand selfless services and the need to sacrifice. You’ve got to take the pains and extra care to pay attention to details, you will understand you are only a custodian of the people resources; being privilege to be the Pastor’s, the Imam, the Prophet, the President, the Prime Minister, the Governor, the Minister, the Legislator, the local Government Chairman as well as the Councilor. It is your obligation to ensure the resources is judiciously ultilise for the interest of the masses; the same people you sworn under oath to protect.

You’ve got to ensure budgetary allocation is not just a ritual, but a process to allocate resources to the various tiers of government. With your absolute diligent, you will make sure at the end of every financial year, the project for which the resources was allocated is completed for the people use, for that is the essence of your leadership. If it’s found out that the wealth of the nation under your custody is misappropriated, mismanaged, or misapplied, you will take responsibility to track the people involve and bring them to justices. In reality, you don’t actually need to preach to your people how genuine you are, but your footprint and body language will speak volume of your credibility.

To be genuine is to possess the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; that is not counterfeit. Genuine or being authentic has become a standard for measuring leadership over a decade ago. People tend to question the notion and rationale to portraying people as not genuine in corporate or political leadership position. You need to be clear on what your values are and must be consistent in applying them. You need to have the courage to hold true to them. You must not lose sight of reality. Lost values may be one of the biggest causes of downfalls.

Indeed there are individuals in political and corporate word through their leadership trait that are embroil in large scale scandal for instance; the Enron WorldCom, and Tyco scandal in the United States. We can also equate the Late General Sani Abacha looting regime, and the alleged Multi Billion Dollars looting spree that was perpetrated under former President; Dr.Goodluck Jonathan reign of Nigeria as political leadership who are by their acts of commission and omission portrays them as not worthy to be called genuine leaders. Another vivid example of counterfeit corporate leader is the case involving Alibaba and the 2,236 thieves’ scandals that took place in China.

Bill George defined authentic leaders as genuine, moral and character-based leaders as; “People of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations; who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their core values who have the courage to build their companies to meet the needs of all their stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society.”

He further enunciates five qualities of authentic leaders as enumerated below:

a. Understanding their purpose
b. Practicing solid values
c. Leading with heart
d. Establishing connected relationships
e. Demonstrating self-discipline.

Having said that, an attempt should be made to unravel the steps to becoming a genuine leader. It does not really matter if you are already a leader or aspire to be one. The bottom line is to live up to people expectation in any organisation and groups you found yourself. No matter your level of experience in leadership position, you will still learn something valuables on the following steps to guild you as discussed by Bob Fagan.

1. Become a good follower first: Rare is the effective leader who didn’t learn to become a good follower first. The service institutions realize and teach that. In fact, it may be the major distinction between West Point and the Harvard Business School, and why West Point has produced more leaders than the Harvard Business School.

2. Focus upon what you DO want and not upon what you DON’T want: This is the useful leverage of the Law of Attraction, but it is sad how we focus and feed ourselves with limiting information and beliefs expecting to get positive outcomes.

3. Let go of your ego: The truly great leaders are not in leadership for personal gain or to prove their worthiness to others. They lead in order to serve other people. Perhaps that is why Lawrence D. Bell remarked, “Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things, and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things.”

4. Ask Good Questions: The quality of the questions we ask not only in leadership, but also in life determines the quality of our existence. Ask empowering questions and you will elicit powerful answers. Ask limiting ones and you will gather limiting thoughts and ideas. And then listen for the answers!

5. Build Your Mentoring Skills: There is not a valuable leader who does not also successfully develop other leaders while leading.

6. Build positive relationships: Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. That means it is by nature relational. Today’s generation of leaders seem particularly aware of this because title and position mean so little to them. They know intuitively that people go along with people they get along with and trust.

7. Develop a healthy personal regimen: Energy and how we use it determines how we use our most limited resource: which is time. If your energy is off, you simply can’t be as effective. Good sleep, a healthy diet of moderation, regular exercise, quiet time, and the like all enable us to have better energy.

8. Shoot for perfection, but settle for excellence: The cost of perfection for you, your family, business, and everyone around you is astronomical. Work with excellence. No one respects and follows mediocrity. Make adding value your goal. When you look at the leaders whose names are revered long after they have finished leading, you find that they were men and women who helped people to live better lives and reach their potentials. That is the highest calling of leadership; and its highest value. Ask yourself “How can I contribute to those around me?”

9. Rely on discipline, not emotion. Leadership is often easy during the good times: It’s when everything seems to be against you; when you’re out of energy, and you don’t want to lead; that you earn your place as a leader. During every season of life, leaders face crucial moments when they must choose between gearing up or giving up. To make it through those times, rely on the rock of discipline, not the shifting sand of emotion. Better yet, if you can add joy to the equation, you supercharge it.

10. Operate from a position of love and abundance rather than fear and scarcity: For example, give your power away and communicate. One of the ironies of leadership is that you become a better leader by sharing whatever power you have, not by saving it all for yourself. Are you a river, or a reservoir? Genuine leaders are “rivers.” (Reservoirs can get stagnant.) If you use your power to empower others, your leadership will extend far beyond your grasp.

11. “Walk the Talk.” You reveal true integrity when you practice what you preach: As the leader of virtually anything, those who follow you will observe you like a hawk. Failure to do, and to act as you say, spells “phony” and will sabotage the best efforts to lead. With any changes, begin with yourself. You have unlimited power to effect change within. Unfortunately, many leaders overestimate their ability to change others and sometimes you simply must detach from the outcome and enjoy the journey.

From the foregoing, we can understand that to be genuine is to be real and sincere; which means to show up as who you are; to bring your past experiences, values and beliefs to your role and to live those every seconds, minutes, hours and day. When people see you being who you are, they become interested. Conversely, when they see you concealed or trying to make yourself be something that you are not, they will lose faith and trust in you. Our next series will discuss the importance of shared vision and action in leadership. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? It’s always good to share.

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