In our discussion this afternoon we shall be looking at Leadership and service; and I believe that the subject is carefully chosen because of its relevance to societies and organizations.

As well, in this presentation I feel particularly honoured and privileged to be amongst you, distinguished Rotarians, to raise discussion on this important subject.

As a Nigerian, I have paid rapt attention to national discourse which borders on leadership question, for me our leadership system and commitment is yet to be right- both at governmental level and otherwise.  On the global level, the advancement, innovations and progress so far made as well as the high levels socio-political development witnessed in advanced countries rests on leadership factor.

In all life pursuits, there are people who determine what happens and how it happens.

I do not intend to approach discussion on this subject in a scholastic way but to examine its interns of a living subject which we find around us in families, schools, organizations and government.  Of a truth, every organization, group and society, is a function of leadership and to that extent, a function of service.

In the course of our life journey and development, we have come across or met individuals who were regarded as leaders or head, and superintendent over the affairs of people or who others looked up to as their leaders.  As well, in our small villages and towns as in larger communities there are persons who determine and direct the affairs of their citizens.

In certain situations and times individuals have emerged to take responsibility for what happens and the way it should happen; much more in some communities we have in place (established) leaders – kings, chiefs, queens, who are recognized or known with peculiar names or titles by their people and so are community leaders who provides some leadership for their subjects.

In view of the above, what then is leadership? As well, what is service?

  • Leadership is the position of a leader, the quality displayed by a leader, the act of leading or instance of this etc.
  • ‘Leader’ someone who acts as guide; a directing head or chief e.g. of political party.  Someone who or something that leads a body of moving troops, animals etc.  Someone or something that hold the first place (The New Webster Dictionary of English Language International Edition pp.562).
  • ‘Leadership’; state or position of being a leader.
  • Leader: a person who leads a group of people especially the head of a country, an organization etc. e.g. a political/spiritual leader (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 7th Edition pp.839)
  • ‘Service’; providing something, a system that provides something that the public needs; organized by the government or a private company.  Also an organization or a company that provides something for the public or does something for the government (-Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary, 7th Edition pp.1335).
  • ‘Service’: the occupation of being a servant, government employment, diplomatic service, (a branch of the Army, navy etc) of the Armed Forces or the Armed Forces as a career or occupation esp. in war. … the product of an employee’s or professional man’s paid activities, assistance or advantage given to another etc.

There are hundred of definition of ‘leadership and leader’ especially on the internet space and books by authors; and we can highlight some few of them in this discussion.

1.        “Leadership is having a vision, sharing that vision and inspiring others to support your vision while creating their own” – Mindy Gibbins –Klain, founder Real Thought Leaders.

2.       “Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them feeling empowered and accomplished – Lisa Cash Hanson CEO Snuggwugg.

3.       “Effective Leadership is providing the vision and motivation to a team so they work together toward the same goal, and then Understanding the talents and temperament of each individual and effectively motivating each person to contribute individually their best toward achieving the group goal” – Stan Kimer, President Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer.

“Leadership is inspiring others to pursue your vision within the parameters you set, to the extent that it becomes a shared effort, a shared vision and a shared success” – Steve Zeitchik CEO of Focal Point Strategies.

“Leadership is the collective action of everyone you influence.   Your behavior – your actions and your words – determines how your influence.   Our job as leaders is to energize whatever marshal actions with others” – David Casullo, President, Bates Communications.

In the above definitions of ‘Leadership’ we find common underlying factors in leadership, variedly stated though we have ‘vision,’ ‘goal,’ accomplished”, etc.  They are all suggestive of the fact that leadership ultimately is for a purpose.  Every leadership effort is geared toward a purpose, need, a solution to problem or challenge, or bringing something into being, which is perhaps in public interest – satisfy a need, etc.

Leadership involves, decision, action, influence, inspiration, motivation, guidance, empowerment, etc. these help leaders to achieve their goal or attain or realize their visions.

Perhaps, you would have heard people make comment or say “Leaders are born”, or “Leadership is thrusted upon some people: etc Actually, some people become leaders by inheritance and by seniority in official positions of authority while some got thrown up for leadership by situation or share happenstance.

These notions and experience begs on insight into theories of leadership which will help us in distilling the leadership concept and making informed comparison and judgment through Leadership theories.

Theories are categorized items of the aspects believed to define the leader best.  They are mere schools of thought that explain why certain people become great leaders.   We have the following theories:

  1. Great man theory
  2. Trait theory
  3. Behavioral theories
  4. Contingency theories
  5. Transactional theories
  6. Transformed theories

Summary of Theories:

The Great Man theory assumes that the traits of leadership are intrinsic – simply leaders are born not made.  Theories describe Great leaders as those who are destined by birth to become a leader; and great leaders will rise when confronted with the appropriate situation.

(Popularized by Thomas Carlyle a writer and teacher,  1840.)

Trait Theory:

This theory believes that people are either born or made with certain qualities that make them excel in leadership roles.  It believes that certain qualities such as intelligence, sense of responsibility, creativity and other values put anyone in the shoes of a good leader. This theory of leadership focused on analyzing mental, physical and social characteristics and combination of characteristic that are common amongst leaders to gain understanding on leaderships.  (1830’s – 1840’s)

Behavioural Theories:

This offers a new perspective other than the trait theory and focused on behaviours of the leaders as opposed to mental, physical or social characteristics.  The theorists using psychometrics dwelt on factor analysis and could measure cause and effect relationship of specifies behaviours from leaders.  (1840’s – 1850’s) 

Contingency Theories:  The contingency leadership theories argue that there is no single way of leading and that every leadership style should be based on certain situation.  Theories believe that there are certain people perform of maximum level in certain places; but at minimal performance when taken out of their element. (1860’s)

Transaction Leadership Theories:

Transactional theories also called exchange theories of leadership centers on transaction between the leader and the followers.  The theory values a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.  The Transactional Theory effectiveness lies in the motivational value, as such, the leader must find a means to reward or punish his follower for performing leadership assigned task.  The transactional leaders do better when they develops a mutual reinforcing environment for which the individual and the organizational goal are in sync.  (This evolved in 1970’s)

Transformational Leadership:

Theories brings the idea of a process by which a persons interacts with others and is able to create a solid relationship that results in high percentage of trust that results in an increase of motivation both intrinsic and extrinsic in both leaders and followers.

The essence the theories is that leaders transform their followers through their inspirational nature and charismatic personalities.  Rules are regulations are flexible guide by group norms.  These attributes provide a sense of belonging for the followers as they can easily identify with the leader and its purpose.

In short, theories arise from studies, research that was carried out in the area overtime.  There are published work in the subject by Philosophers, Researchers and Professors that we can read and make informed judgment.  The most effective theory depends on the situation.

Beyond the theories, we have leadership styles which are about the method a leader applies in leadership process – that is providing direction, implementing plan and motivating people.

Researchers and authors have identified many different styles used by leaders in political, business, military and other areas of life.  Below are some of the leadership styles:

1.        Autocratic Leadership style: In this style of leadership, Autocratic leaders view themselves as having absolute power and make decisions on behalf of their subordinate (or followers).  They dictate not only what needs to be done but how those tasks should be done.

The strong point is that decisions are often made quickly and strategically and teams are kept on track as a result.

However, employees (or followers) can feel ignored, restricted and in worst case, even abused.

2.       Democratic Leadership Style: This can also be called participative leadership method.  The style emphasizes working together and actively involves their teams in decision making process.  Democratic leaders value ideas and input from others, and encourage discussion about those contributions.  They don’t hand down others from the top instead take a much more collaborative approach to getting things done. 

Here, creativity and innovation are encouraged but building consensus can be costly and time taking.

3.       Servant Leadership Style: This leadership style focuses on the needs of the group, sees employees or the group as most important resources and treats them as customers.Their standard ‘motto’ is “serve first and lead second” rather than thinking about how they can inspire people to follow their lead, they channel the majority of their energy into finding ways that they can help others. 

4        Bureaucratic Leadership Style: This the style that has hierarchical authority, that is, power comes from a formal position or tittle, rather than unique trait or characteristic that they possess.  There is stability advantage since it is a systematized approach to leadership; things remain constant even though personnel changes and other shifts that threaten to rock the boat.

However, it operates an inflexible system and creates no room for creative or idea and innovation, people say: this is the way we have always done it.

5.       Laissez-Faire Leadership Style:The Laissez-Faire is French phrase meaning ‘leave it be’, which can be called hands-off leadership method.  Here, leaders provide necessary tools and resource and allow their followers or team members make decisions, solve problems and get their work accomplished without worrying about supervising every move of the team.

There is a level of trust and independent which empower the team and motivate them and make them creative.

However, they can be chaos and confusion if the team is not organized or self directed.

6.       Charismatic Leadership Style: This Leadership method happen when leaders have a lot of charisma and magnetic personalities; and lot of conviction to achieve the objectives.

The Leaders do not use strict instruction to encourage behaviours,

they use eloquent communication and persuasion to unite the team or followers around on cause.  They clearly lay out their vision and get other excited about that same goal.

Charismatic leaders are highly inspirational and effective at getting on entire  group invested in a shared objective.

Having looked at the definition of leadership, theories and styles leadership, it may be important to discuss on research or studies on the characteristics or traits of common amongst the leaders which has continued for centuries, indeed writings from philosophers such as Plato’s ‘Republic and Plutarch’s ‘Lives’ dealt on this.

According to Barbara White, whether a person is born a leader or develops skills and abilities to become a leader is open for debate.  There are some clear characteristics that are found in good leaders.  These qualities can be developed or may be naturally part of their personality.  Here are seven Personal qualities found in a Good Leaders.

  • A good leader had an exemplary character.  It is of utmost importance that a leader is trustworthy to lead others.

A leader needs to be trusted and be known to live their life with honesty and integrity.  A good leader “Walks the talk” and in doing so earns the right to have responsibility for others.  True authority is born from respect for the good character and trustworthiness of the person who leads.

  • A good leader is enthusiastic about their work or cause and also about their role as leader. People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication.  Leaders need to be able to be a motivator towards the required action or cause.  Although the responsibility and roles of leader may be different, the leader needs to be seen to be part of the team working towards the goal.  This kind of leaders will not be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.
  • A good leader is confident.  In order to lead and set direction a leader needs to appear confident as a person and in the leadership role. Such a person inspires confidence in others and draws out the trust and best efforts of the team to complete the task well.  A leader when conveys confidence towards the proposed objective inspires the best effort from the team members.
  • A leader also needs to function in orderly and purposeful manner in situations of uncertainty.  People look to the leader during times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity and find reassurance and security when he portrays confidence positive demeanor.
  • Good leaders are tolerant of ambiguity and remain calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose – storms, emotions and crises come and go and a good leader takes these as part of the journey and keeps a cool head.
  • A good leader as well as keeping the main goal in focus is able to think analytically, not only does a good leader view a situation as a whole but is able to break it down into sub parts for closer inspection, not only is the goal in view but a good leader can break it down into manageable steps and make progress towards it.
  • A good leader is committed to excellence.  Second best does not lead to success.  The good leader not only maintains high standards but also is proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas.

These seven personal characteristics are foundational to good leadership.  Some characteristics may be more naturally present in the personality of a leader.  However, each of these characteristic can also be developed and strengthened.  A good leader whether they naturally possess these qualities or not, will be diligent to consistently develop and strengthen them in their leadership role.

Leadership Qualities and Attributes of Great Leaders

According to studies and research in the field of Leadership there are more than fifty (50) identified qualities that are important to great leaders.  There are seven leadership qualities to stand out as being more important than the others.

It is interesting to know that each of these leadership qualities can be learned, especially by practice and repetition.  They are:

  1. Vision:  Great leaders have vision.  They can see into the future, they have a clear, exciting idea of where they are going and what they are trying to accomplish and are excellent at strategic planning.

Having a clear vision turns the individual into a special type of person.

  • Courage: “Courage is rightly considered foremost of the virtues for upon it all others depend” (Winston Churchill)

The quality of courage means that you are willing to take risks in the achievement of your goals with no assurance o f success.  As there is no certainty in life or business, every commitment you make and every action you take entails a risk of some kind.  Among the seven leadership qualities, courage is the most identifiable outward trait.

  • Integrity: The core of integrity is truthfulness; integrity requires that you always tell the truth, to all people in every situation.  Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business.
  • Humility: Great leaders are those who are strong and decisive but also humble.  Humility doesn’t mean that you are weak or unsure of yourself.  It means that you have the self-confidence and self-awareness to recognize the value of others without feeling threatened.  It means that you are willing to admit you could be wrong, that you recognize you may not have all the answers. Much more, you give credit to where credit is due.
  • Strategic Planning: Great leaders look ahead and plan ahead.  They are outstanding at strategic planning.  They have the ability to see ahead, to anticipate with some accuracy where the things or his dream will be going.
  • Focus: Great leaders always focus on the needs of the people or (company) and the situation.  Leaders focus on results on what must be achieved by themselves, by others.  They focus on the strengths, in themselves and others.

Your ability as a leader to call the shots and make sure that everyone is focused and concentrated on the most valuable use of their time is essential to the excellent performance of the enterprise.

  • Co-operation: The ability to rally people around, to get everyone working and pulling together is essential to your success.

Leadership is the ability to get people to work for you because they want to.

In view of the above definitions, theories, and styles of leadership, the purpose of leadership is to serve, to accomplish a goal in the interest of the followers, it is about service to the people and satisfying needs, solving problems, surmountingchallenges and bringing new things into existence in the interest of the people.

We has defined service at the onset of this discussion about from the dictionary but the authors, professionals, and leaders can in a much broader perspectives where deeper can be deduced contextually. 

A source is something that the public needs, such as transport, cremation facilities, hospitals or energy supplies which proved in placed and organized way by the government or an official body (www.collinsdictionary.com)

Service has more than 20 different meanings which for want of time and scope of this discussion we will not delve into all.  It is enough to for us to centre majorly on service in the interest of the people, service to humanity, and community service, this is because are a peculiar evidence the Rotary Club or Rotarians.

I am particularly sensitive to the “motto” of the Rotary “service” above self” which is coterminous with the object and purpose of leadership.  The true essence of leadership, the visions and good is selfless service.

Service of humanity: a man lives for himself.  He serves and makes himself secure.  But he becomes human only when he serves others, tries to make them comfortable, secure and happy.  There is this statement:  To serve humanity is to serve God and service before self.

It is often said that worship of God can be done through service of mankind.  Many great men laid their lives to serve man.  Humanity is the human race which includes everyone on earth.  The word humanity is from the latin ‘humanitas’ meaning human nature, kindness.

Service to humanity is called into play in different ways, through ethical standards of service, service with compassion and have etc.

Service to Humanity according to Articles by Gandhi is thus: The services to humanity results in oneness.  It brings hope and life to the downtrodden and disheartened. When peace and harmony becomes the man cause of every kind of service rendered to the nation and its people, it becomes the service to God.

Think about some of this service to mankind quotes.

“The greatest pleasure is in bearing pain for others”.

“Burn so bright that the world comes to life”.

“I am no religious Preacher, or a spiritual leader, nor am I an intellectual philosopher or a devil in carnation – I am you in the service of you”

-AbhijitNaska, Fabric of Humanity.

“If you want the world to take you seriously, be important.  If you want to be important, solve problems”.

Saidi Mdala: know what matters

“Make your existence a cynosure of service”

“Be the one who never sleeps, so that the rest of humanity can”

-Abhijit Naska

The above Quotes reflect completely in my own thinking the values of Rotary as stated”.

‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’.

If you read through the object of the Rotary the word ‘service’ appear five times in which case Rotary revolves around service which is an important and valuable element to community and organizational.

The Rotary’s focus and commitment to the noble cause of service, and service to humanity is not only exemplary but absolutely legendary. The Rotary has continued to demonstrate unequalled commitment in building bridges across continents, building communities, in serving humanity, preventing and curing diseases, reforming and redirecting thinking, installing and sustaining peace, bringing hope and ensuring that people and the world is safe.

I would say that the World is privileged and happy to benefit from the valuable services of the Rotary where as urging them to continue in this noble cause. I commend the District 9125 for their strides and humanitarian gestures in some communities in FCT.

On this note, I congratulate the President Rotn Tochukwu Nwankwo on his investiture and the inauguration his board members. 

I thank you all.

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