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Becoming A Respectable Leader (3).

Every respectable leader is a great Communicator. Effective communication is the lubricant of meaningful relationships. Whether in business, marriage, parenting, management or in relationship with contemporaries, superiors or subordinates, communication is the thread that holds relational fabrics together. When a leader can communicate his feelings to those he leads in a way that is clear and non-deprecating, he will surely earn the respect of those that he leads. Show me one great leader and I will show you a man/woman who is an excellent communicator. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Obafemi Awolowo, Maya Angelou. You can add to the list.

All these people had an uncanny ability to paint pictures of a desired future in their followers with words. Whenever Jesus spoke to the multitude, his words were simple and without being heavily laced with the platitudes of the typical temple worship conducted by the Pharisees and priests of His time. No wonder the Bible says that the common folk heard him gladly and marveled at the words that came out of his mouth. This has nothing to do with sophistry or being glib-tongued. Great communicators earn respect, not by the quantum or floweriness of their words but by the passion and the sincerity in which they are spoken. True leaders communicate from their hearts. They have an uncanny capacity to communicate their vision with an infectious passion that makes it difficult for anyone listening to ignore or be indifferent to them. Unfortunately, even the world's greatest despots and demagogues have used communication skills to manipulate many people into their devious agenda. Adolf Hitler was a great communicator!

Communication is not so much about what is said as it is about what is heard. Clarity of purpose is therefore absolutely essential. Communication is the difference between being a noise and being a voice. I have heard a number of people in leadership positions talk about how challenged they are when they have to speak. I wish there was a short cut to it. But if you want to remain on the cutting edge of leadership, you will have to master the art of effective communication. When leaders and followers are reading on the same page, it makes collective achievement appear like a walk in the park.

No human being has a monopoly on knowledge. Only God is omniscient. Every man, no matter how intellectually endowed, only knows in part. This is the only reason why no man is truly self-made or self-sufficient. People look up to a leader not because he knows all things but because he will always endeavor to seek to know what he knows he does not know. The leader's quest for information upgrades is what makes him teachable. The myth of leadership infallibility has no place in a confident leader's lexicon. True leaders are rabid learners.

They treasure the company of books and other forms of education because they are constantly looking for ways of staying ahead in their game. Such leaders practically become the library that many of their followers may not visit. Great leaders deliberately and strategically invest significantly on personal development and reinventing. He does not seek learning so that he can use the knowledge acquired to lord things over his followers. He does it so that he can add significant value to them and the organization. He spends more on building people because he knows that people are the real building blocks of any great establishment. Leaders who concentrate more on brick and mortar development run the risk of seeing the people they do not build ruin the structures that they are building! In an economic crisis, many organizations cut down on or eliminate the budget for staff development. That is a costly error.

Learning leaders understand that that is the time to turn the organization into a learning organization where training and retraining become an integral part of the organization's activities. When people have become better, they can build better organizations. When followers discover that the leader is not particularly enamoured with improving himself, they lose respect for him, especially when they always seem to have the information that he neither has nor seeks. If the follower is the one who constantly tells the leader what to do, then the follower should actually be the leader! Teachability is a demonstration of humility that demonstrates that a leader is willing to learn even from the least of his followers or staff. Teachable people turn every encounter and experience into learning opportunities with each occasion affording new or reinforced lessons. He earns the right to mentor others because he himself is someone's protege.

A loose cannon is a disaster going somewhere to happen. You earn the respect of your followers when they know that you are Accountable. Accountability operates at various levels of relationship. You are accountable to God, whether you know it or not. You are also accountable to your superiors, parents and mentors who from time to time can be consulted on several issues that, left unresolved, could lead to unpleasant consequences for all concerned. That is accountability upward. Most people have no qualms deferring to those above them. So, it follows logically that most people would find it easy to defer to one who is older or superior in office. The second level of accountability is sideways. This relates with the way you deal with the people you consider your contemporaries, in and out of office, or professional colleagues who share similar status or parameters of function like you. A number of people can also deal with that. At the third level is a leader's accountability to those he is superior in function to. This is where the rubber meets the road. Most leaders in my part of the world do not believe that they owe anyone who is a subordinate any explanations on corporate decisions and direction. At that level, most of the people have been conditioned to believe that the boss is always right and nobody could question his decisions.

Accountability is not synonymous with stupidity. In fact, only a stupid leader despises accountability at all the levels mentioned. Sometimes, information supplied by someone considered to be insignificant in an organization may provide the way for the organization's exit from an unwarranted logjam. Where accountability is lacking, everyone around the leader begins to feel that they are not an integral part of the organization.

Even though everyone knows that no man is indispensable, still we all want to have a sense of importance and we resent it when anyone, by virtue of his oversight over our function, treats us as if we had no dignity or personal worth! Every CEO must see the least paid worker as a stakeholder and an integral part of the enterprise as much as he the CEO or any other Executive level officer is! Consequently, if there is any matter that will affect the organization, it should never be discussed only in the board room where people take drastic decisions without feeling the pulse of the followers continued.

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Mar 11, 2019
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