5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP

LEADING FROM THE MIDDLE: 5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP 

There are 5 levels of leadership. The level you are on determines the degree of effectiveness of your leadership. 
POSITION: The first and lowest level of leadership is the level of Position.

In reality this is not actually leadership, it is more an opportunity to get leadership. 

If we understand the nature of leadership we will understand why Position is not really leadership. Why it isn’t leadership is that positions are given but leadership is not given, it is earned.
Positions come through a variety of ways, but leadership comes through just one way.
Positions can be given in organizations for instance; if a person has developed his capacity to the extent where he can function consistently at a certain level in his industry he will naturally fit into certain types of posts or positions. 

But leadership cannot be given in and by any organization.

People can be given positions by birth.
For instance the monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth, has her first son Charles, as the Prince of Wales.
He did nothing to attain that.
He will become monarch after her death. 
He did nothing to attain that.
That is the nature of position; but that is not the nature of leadership and as we will see position does not mean leadership.

To illustrate the above point might I ask you a question?
 “Have you had a teacher at school when you were little, or a boss at your workplace who you didn’t like very much but whose instructions you nevertheless carried out because he or she was ahead of you?”
Maybe you have, and if you did obey them it would possibly be because you felt like you had no choice.
Now envision a scenario where you meet that same person again, let’s call her Mrs. Brown; so you meet Mrs. Brown but this time outside of the usual environment, probably after you left your previous workplace where you had her as the obnoxious boss; and let’s say you just managed to bump into her someplace else, in a mall or other public place. 

Now what would you do if she gave you the same sort of instructions and in the same tone as she used to give while you worked under her? 
If you were a polite person you would probably just smile and walk away, and if you aren’t you would give her a piece of your mind; most likely a huge chunk that she wouldn’t forget in a hurry.
The reason for this is quite simple; what she had over you was a position and not leadership. She lost her position and so lost the ability to give you any instructions. 

This is why people who remain on the level of Position find it difficult to work with volunteers; volunteers know they are not duty bound to follow just anyone and so they will only follow those that have influence (more on that soon) over them.
Now if all you have over a person is a position then you don’t have leadership. 

PERMISSION: This is where genuine leadership begins and is the point at which influence is exercised.
If you remember our discussion on “Understanding Leadership” you will recall that we defined leadership very simply as “influence”.
 The level of Permission is that point where people begin to willingly follow you and submit to you of their volition. It is that point where you have started exerting influence over them. 
The level of Permission is based on relationship. At this level people will follow you because they like you and because you have influence over them. 

Most of us are usually influenced by people we either aspire to be like or by people who show care and concern for our welfare. We tend to model ourselves after people that inspire us and trust that those who show concern for us have our interests at heart and so we normally won’t have any reservations following them or listening to their counsel.

A leader on this level works to connect with his people, and he does this by increasing his emotional intelligence; as he builds this he gets to create more positive energy in the environment and people tend to gravitate towards him. Trust usually grows at this point and as it does it leads to respect.
So when a person begins to influence other people he has entered this level of leadership.

This is basically what permission is all about, and this is really where real leadership begins.

PERFORMANCE (PRODUCTION): 
The next level of leadership is production. People will be comfortable with you when they know you have concern for their welfare, and they might attempt to emulate you if you inspire them, but they will only respect you if you are productive. 
Most people do not argue with results; they respect results.
So what this level of leadership speaks of is RESULTS.
People will follow you at this level because of your track record.
How many times have we seen people that call themselves leaders but are all talk and no action? I am sure it is something you have seen a lot of, “leaders” who do not walk their talk. It is quite hard to respect a person who doesn’t produce results in any field he aims to command loyalty in; you realize that when a leader produces results he builds credibility and this is instructive because there are two components of credibility/trust- they are character and competence; if a person has character you can bank on his words, but then we also realize there are times when only character will not suffice; there are times when we must go beyond words. 
If for instance you are trustworthy in character I will have no qualms in handing over to you something precious to me in order for you to keep it safely for me, but if you have character but are not a competent driver it is not likely that I would give you my 2017 Sport Utility Vehicle to take out for a spin.
This applies in practically every endeavor in which we engage and so in politics for instance we can also  understand this if we see that as much as we might like some candidates in a particular election because of their mannerisms and charm,or even because of more serious things like their sense of probity and moral rectitude, when we want to elect leaders that will get the job done we look towards track records. We look for their competence and commit our trust to them on that basis. 

At this level of leadership in organizations work gets done and as a result motivation increases, profits improve, stagnation gets kicked out of the window and everyone gets more committed to the task at hand as they see the commitment and performance of the leader.
Everyone works seamlessly as a team and overall effectiveness goes up at this point.

PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT:-
This is leadership by reproduction. At this level the leader realizes that his successes will be measured not by how much he has personally accomplished but by how much the people that work with him have accomplished, and so he works at this point to raise manpower.

Someone once said “It is called ‘manpower’ because where there are no men there is no power”. 

A real leader knows that in order to expand his followership base, whether in boosting his clientele or subscribers or audience, he must first expand his leadership base. So his goal at this point is to identify and develop as many leaders as he possibly can by investing in them  and helping them through their growth phases.

A good leader knows it is more honorable to be a coach than it is to be a player. 

It is also much more productive. The reason is easy to grasp you see- when there are more leaders more of the overall objectives of the organization will be accomplished. Also where there are more leaders the top dog will be able to grow into other things as he will no longer be restricted with performing the tasks he has now developed people to handle. 
As you invest in people you will command a much higher level of loyalty as people will begin to follow you for what you have done for them. 

PERSONHOOD (PINNACLE): At this level of leadership the leader has become an institution and people will follow him for his reputation. People will follow you at this level because of the legacy you would have set.
This level requires you to stick with your principles at all costs; it will require you to give up a lot and sacrifice very much because this level of leadership focuses on posterity.
So what this means is that at this level a leader thinks generationally. He thinks in terms of what structures and systems to develop for succeeding sets of leaders as well as ways to ensure the organization remains relevant even in his absence and for many more years ahead. 
By the nature of this level of leadership there are many instances where the philosophy of leaders at this point become schools of thought. 
Think of Chairman Mao Zedong of Communist China and his Maoist movement. Maoism is today a political theory derived from the teachings of Mao Zedong and a substantial proportion of the Chinese ruling class are adherents of this philosophy.
There are so many other examples to draw from but I assume the point has been made thus far.

So, what level would you say you operate in?

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE: A PRACTICAL LOOK AT HOW PARTS OF CULTURE IMPEDE NIGERIA

In the two installments of the article- “Swimming Against the Tide: How Society determines our behavior and how to buck the trend” we established the fact that society and culture can shape the values, and by extension the behavior of its members.

We then went further to give the technical definitions of each of the Dimensions in Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory and to note the scores of some countries, in the framework we used for the analysis. 

Now I want us to see the practical implications of these for Nigeria.
Where the article mentioned above was basically descriptive this one will be more germane because we will be applying these thoughts in a much more relevant manner.

After applying them we will see why we must deliberately manage culture so we can accomplish what we want in the building of a better society and we will see why we must take very seriously the process of selecting those we allow to lead us.

Beyond the first impression we get when we hear the word “culture” (which usually evokes thoughts of our tribal affiliations) we need to realise there are other vistas the word alludes to and these include-
Domestic Culture, Organizational Culture, Societal Culture, National Culture and so on. 

Now it is imperative that we realize all these different types of culture are set by leadership. 
I cannot underscore the above point enough.

All types of culture are set and determined by leadership.

Think about this for instance; there are tribal practices that are transmitted from generation to generation and very few people ask how those traditions were developed in the first instance. What many have not considered is that much of what we have come to refer to as our culture today is usually the aggregate of the personal preferences of communal leaders from generations past.
One person’s preference for plump women for instance could have been traded to his son who would also trade it to his until it becomes a custom to have fattening rooms where brides are first sent before the marriage is consummated. And these things could happen without recourse to the preference or understanding of the recipients; young men who intend to get married in such communities could just find themselves saying “That’s the way it’s always been here, I don’t know why but I will just have to do what my forebears have done.”
Such people then invariably give in to what society expects of them; expectations that in many cases began with either one or just a handful of people.

It is the same thing with other forms of culture. I have seen dress codes in entire organizations determined by the personal preferences of the Chief Executives. Some people even go as far as deliberately looking and talking like some of these Executives, particularly if they are such as inspire confidence, respect, and admiration in those that follow them.
For this reason more than any other as much as lies within our power we must be deliberate in picking who leads us because it is that choice that will determine which sort of culture will influence us.

In Hofstede’s “Cultural Dimensions Theory” we find 6 Dimensions through which we can assess and understand the impact of a society on the values and behavior of its members. Geert Hofstede delineated the Power Distance Index, the Individualism vs Collectivism Index, the Uncertainty Avoidance Index, the Masculinity vs Femininity Index, the Long-Term Orientation vs Short-Term Orientation Index, and the Indulgence vs Restraint Index as the 6 Dimensions for cross-cultural communication and through which we can measure the effects of societies on their members.
The highest score on each dimension is 120 and the lowest 0.

Now let us take a practical look at how these Dimensions affect us, particularly in Nigeria, and how we can ensure we fight the trend to take us backward.

When I think of the Power Distance Index (PDI) and try to relate it to Nigeria I shake my head at how we have allowed the absence of values set our national culture.
A simple explanation of the PDI is it is an index that measures how the lower members of society expect and accept that power is unevenly distributed. 
It simply assesses how much of a gap there is between social classes and how those that make up the lower reaches of these classes relate to inequality in society.
If the PDI is high then it means that the members of lower classes accept and even actively enforce the fact that there are those that are “superior” to or ahead of them in society, but if the PDI is low then it implies that the members of lower classes reject that those in higher classes are either superior to or ahead of them.

Nigeria has a score of 80 and the U.S has a score of 40 for instance. This is why in Nigeria it is taken for granted that a person who was born before you, or has more money than you do, or has a political position over you, or is your leader at church or work is “superior” to you.
In Western societies with much lower scores such thoughts are unacceptable.
This is why you will find scenarios where a young lady will refer to another person who is old enough to be her mother by her first name (anathema to the average African). 
It is for this reason that you will find the average Yoruba man in Nigeria prostrate when greeting an elder, but the average Westerner will take the elder by his hand in a handshake, look him in the eye and ask “How are you?” sometimes with a tap on the back or on the head.
Having grown up in Nigeria I cannot forget the shock I felt when I first witnessed the above in the United States.
But its the culture. 

Part of the reason why this is so in very practical terms is a variety of reasons top of which is the degree of the sense of entitlement members of a society have.
The level of education, exposure, and mindset concerning the rights of members of a society will determine to a large extent what the score on the PDI will be for varying societies.
In a place where over half of the people live under the poverty line most people will not be as interested in challenging decisions of government as they would be in deifying those who dole out stipends to them to curry favor and votes.
In a place like Nigeria where politicians capitalise on the poverty level to use bags of rice and salt to buy votes the PDI level will be high, but in a place like the United States where the State is required by law to take care of its weaker members there is a greater sense of entitlement and providing basic amenities is not as revered as in places like Nigeria.

Another point here is to realise that most of those societies that are high on the PDI Scale are societies that have equalizers inbuilt in them. By equalizers I mean factors that most establish social equilibrium.
One such equalizer that a country like the U.S has is the fact that it is a nation of immigrants. Anyone who is not a Native American is an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant. Now most Americans know this and are conscious of it so there is a sense of entitlement they have. The thought is something like “why does he have to lord it over me? Afterall we are all equal”

This fact is embodied in the Bill of Rights.
It is part of the Culture.

As we have said previously there are different types of culture and these are all set by leadership. Unfortunately in Nigeria on a national scale we have allowed men of base values who are bereft of honor set the values thus establishing the national culture. It no more is about how much integrity a person has or how knowledgeable a person is, it’s now more like how much money a person has or what position he occupies in government. Not many people seem to be interested in how the person gets the money or the position.

I have witnessed the angst people in a country like the United Kingdom feel when it appears their elected representatives depict an insular attitude or show in any way that they are more privileged than those that elected them to represent them.
I have heard from British voters who vote against a candidate they once voted for because he employed a driver.

One told me “who does he think he is employing a chauffeur to take him around, does he think he is better than the rest of us?”
I have been in the London Subway and seen MPs (Members of Parliament) riding the train. I understand that even the Prime Minister rides the train as well.
I saw David Cameron riding in a 2 or 3 car convoy when he was P.M, just like I saw Gordon Brown before him.

But in Nigeria, because of the national culture as seen in the PDI score not just political office holders, but even those still trying to woo voters to stand behind them, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry, will drive in large convoys terrorising hapless road users.
It is in Nigeria that we can find career politicians who have no relevance and make no contributions outside the corridors of power.
Simplicity is something totally alien to most political officeholders.

Everything is about a show of force.

It’s only animals that behave that way.

If you were nurtured in a society where the PDI score is high and you find that you have the tendency to make much of the hierarchical structure in such societies and boss people around or enforce the social stratification obtainable there you must now realize you need to embrace simplicity while you are in positions of power and authority and buck the trend of oppressive and strongman leadership.
The position is not an end in itself, it is simply a tool for service, and as leaders the people whom we serve must not be made to feel like outsiders or inferior.
That is not the way to effective leadership.

Another dimension Hofstede gave is the Individualism vs Collectivism Index (IDV). This measures in a society the extent of integration by its members into and their involvement in in-groups. 
When the score of a society is high on the IDV scale it means it is individualistic and when it is low it is collectivist.
Most Western countries are individualistic and most African, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries are collectivist.
Nigeria has a score of 30 and this indicates it is a collectivist society.

Collectivist societies have many benefits, but when they are not managed properly can also present problems and disadvantages.

We find that in collectivist societies there is a greater tendency that more consideration is given to tribal affiliations and clannish connections than to most other factors. The challenge is that in most areas of national or community life where the grade is low (indicating it is a collectivist society) merit tends to be sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity because clannish thinking is the norm.
In a place like Nigeria where loyalty is more towards tribal and ethnic nationalism than towards many other considerations we find that it is not unusual for people to be asked what their surnames are or where they come from before they get employed or promoted.
This is more often than not the bane of such societies.
Nepotism becomes prevalent, and this more often than not opens the door to corruption.
If you are prone to such bigotry you must deliberately fight it. Most people do not understand the utter evils of tribalism and racism.
We won’t get into that today, but suffice it to say that one must buck that trend if one finds one is clannish.

The next dimension is the Long-Term Orientation vs Short-Term Orientation Index (LTO). As you can see the terms are self-explanatory and highly descriptive. So the questions here are basically about whether the society adopts a long-term or a short-term approach in planning and execution. 
Societies with a high degree in this index (long-term) are pragmatic societies who rather than being uncomfortable with societal change and treating it with suspicion hold to generating innovations in the long term and being pragmatic with problem solving.  Societies with a low degree here (short-term) are normative societies who are mainly traditional and are usually uncomfortable with change.
Such societies tend to be comfortable with what they are used to and do not deliberately institutionalize the pursuit of innovations. 

Imagine China with a score of 118 over 120.

You take a look at all they do and realize they are very long term oriented in their thinking. 
When a Chinese man goes to the West to visit or school he usually is not going there for mere pleasure, more often than not he would be going there to see what knowledge he can gain so he can take back to his country to implement.
The Chinese have a long term plan for virtually every sector of society. 
Looking at China’s rise in science since at least 2002 we see that China is the second largest producer of scientific papers after the United States and 4 factors have been stipulated to favor China’s continued rise and eventual dominance in global science: a large population and human capital base, a labor market favoring academic meritocracy, a large diaspora of Chinese-origin scientists, and a centralized government willing to invest in science.
They invest in science and technology and have a selection process for picking the best potential scientists from their infancy, they then place them in facilities deliberately equipped to groom them to become world class scientists.

It’s the same thing in sports. Take gymnastics for instance- At the London Olympics in the summer of 2012 China came second in the Olympic Table after racking up an astonishing 88 medals- 38 of which were gold. 
An academy called the Ningjin Acrobatics School was founded in 1959 deliberately for the purpose of developing world class gymnasts. Most of the students at the Academy begin as early as 4 years of age and start training with the hope they will be recruited into the national team.

In Nanning there is another sports school that has just one word hung on its walls- “GOLD” 
As a Daily Mail correspondent said “Charges are often taught by rote that their mission in life is to beat the Americans and all-comers to the top of the podium.”

There are many such sports schools and academies in China designed to ensure they keep churning out world class athletes.
 
In basketball China is playing out a 100 year plan for global dominance that has already started producing results half-way into it. The likes of Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, Yi Jianlian and Sun Yue are notable basketball stars in China and the U.S, with Yao Ming in particular, the former 7 foot 7 inch center  for the Houston Rockets being the poster boy for the new wave of Chinese basketball superstars.
In a book titled “Operation Yao Ming”, author Brook Larmer said the Chinese government convinced Yao’s parents, both basketball players and fitness experts, to get married so they would produce a world class athlete. After this Yao was given special treatment to enable him become one of the best basketball players.
It is this concerted effort with a long term agenda that we find consistently in practically everything the Chinese do.

Now let us contrast this with our beloved Nigeria; with a score of 13 over the maximum 120 we have a clear measurement of how ephemeral the decisions we take are and the mindset of impermanence employed by policy makers and “leaders of thought”.
Both at the Federal and State levels we find this same short-termism in practically everything. Billions of naira are spent to undertake and flag off projects by each administration and at the expiration of the tenure we find situations where successor administrations come in and either abandon them completely or go further to dismantle what has already been put in place.
All these at the cost of the taxpayers.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based in France, had, in a study aimed at ranking the world’s cities most exposed to coastal flooding, revealed that Lagos was at the risk of being submerged in the next 50 years. The sea levels have risen far beyond the projected 20 centimeters especially with the melting of polar caps in the North and South poles, and not much seems to have been done to effect a change in this pattern.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has projected a conservative rise in ocean levels of 65 cm by the year 2100 and this has since been adjusted to over 100cm. Yet in Nigeria there does not seem to be concrete data on the amount of rainfall that has caused the recent deluges in Lagos and there is insufficient knowledge as to what can catalyze the estimated forecast.
This is just where we find ourselves in Nigeria. Short Term thinking in practically everything.
And it is this sort of mindset that pervades much of our decisions and our decision making process. 

Another Dimension is the Indulgence vs Restraint Index (IND).
This basically measures how much a society invests in pleasure and is comfort driven.
With a score of 84 in Nigeria we come quite high and this is evidenced by the manner in which the average Nigerian spends money and what he or she spends it on.
A society that is given to ostentation and status symbols is prone to throwing money around very easily and throwing that money around on trivialities.
Not many can forget “projects” like FESTAC 77 that added very little value in human capacity development or the building of any other resource.
There are places in Nigeria where it is almost customary to borrow money to host parties that are not for the celebration of any occasion.
People will hire cars, suits, and regalia to put on a show even when there is absolutely no need for that.
When any society has more pleasure spots than learning and development centers it is more the rule than the exception for very little of significance to come out of such a society. In fact it is anomalous for anything of relevance to come out from it, and for this reason we must learn the virtue of temperance, delaying self-gratification. 
In Nigeria the prevalent mindset is one of gratification without production, while strong and virile societies put production before gratification. 
There is much work to do to change this, but it can be done, make no mistake about that. 

The next dimension in the Cultural Dimensions Theory is the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI). This refers to the extent to which members of a culture or society are uncomfortable with unknown or inexplicable circumstances/situations and how their  belief systems and religious/cultural institutions either avoid or handle these situations. It also refers to how a society deals with unexpected outcomes.
Societies that score a high degree in this index have stiff codes of conduct, guidelines, and laws. They rely on the premise that one truth explains everything that exists and there is no room for relativism.
A lower degree in this index shows a society that imposes fewer regulations and is more accepting of divergent thoughts/ideas. 
So what this shows is that countries high in this Index are usually more religious and superstitious than those who are low in it and those who are low in the Index seem to be more liberal and tolerant of divergent views.
Although not as high as a lot of Middle Eastern and Latin American countries Nigeria is nonetheless still marginally high with a score of 55 on the UAI.
Not as high as it once was it would seem a hybrid of liberalization, modernization, and westernization has begun to make its mark as the Nigerian society, though still largely superstitious, is not as superstitious as it used to be. 
Then when we think about how we handle unexpected outcomes we can take the case of the water levels rising and the potential submerging of coastal cities like Lagos as an example. In a place like Nigeria we will have housing development and real estate people building more housing units in the same areas that are flood prone and even building them over water canals and drainage systems. We are likely not to have a care about climate change as everything is in God’s hands and we will somehow be protected from the forecasted submerging.
That is just the mentality we have in a place like Nigeria.
And this is the mentality we must change. 

We can change our country if we will first work on changing ourselves one person at a time. Then we must demand for the right type of leaders to set our culture.

LEADERSHIP SERIES: UNDERSTANDING LEADERSHIP

UNDERSTANDING LEADERSHIP

One of the most interesting topics for me is the subject of Leadership. Before I took up the appellations of  “Life Coach” and “Leadership Consultant” I had discovered that helping people discover and develop leadership was something I was very passionate about and it was something that was central to my being.

So, we are about to engage in a topic that resonates very greatly with me.

We will start here with a definition of leadership.
Leadership expert John Maxwell has summed it into one word. He has very simply defined it as “influence.” 
That is essentially what leadership is- Influence.
At the risk of sounding a little more technical I will give my definition of Leadership as “the art of influencing people to act out of their volition towards the attainment or accomplishment of a collective objective.”

Read that definition again. Then let’s unpack it. 

The first thing you will notice there is that Leadership is an art; it is first a skill that needs to be developed before it is anything else. 

I do not accept that leaders are born.

While there are people who are born with traits that can be developed to make them effective leaders I believe genuine leaders are made, and this is largely because when exposed to the necessary environment and guided properly ANYONE can become a leader.

The next component you will notice in our definition is the word “Influence.” 
Real leadership is not merely authority or some sort of position anyone has over another person; real leadership is influence. It is the ability to exercise the sort of clout and leverage that precludes constraint and is void of coercion over another person or persons.
The minute compulsion is involved in any process it ceases to be leadership driven or guided. 
Authority evokes images of force and compulsion, but Influence is quite different- it evokes thoughts of willingness.
When Authority is involved people act because they have to, but when Influence is involved people act because they want to. 
When all a person has over someone else is a position you can safely note that what he has is authority, but like we will see in a later article authority is not an end in itself but simply a means. In fact, authority is an opportunity to build influence. Authority is a means to Influence.
So, we need to ask ourselves a pertinent question at this juncture- “How can one build influence?”
There might be very many ways through which we can build influence but through my years of personal study and experience in the art of leadership I have come to see that I can synopsize or encapsulate these into about three major ways- 

(1) Living a life that is exemplary and is a model to others
(2) Being genuinely concerned about people
(3) Getting others to understand they have a future in what you are doing 

The first key to building Influence over people is the power of an example. If others see in you what they want to become it will be very easy for them to follow you. If they see their future in you they will have little hesitation in modeling themselves after what you do and say, and this is where a moral burden comes on the aspiring leader. Trust, once violated, becomes harder to build, and so every leader has the obligation to ensure he does not violate the trust reposed in him by those that aspire to be like him.

The second key to building Influence over people is a compound one. It is a mixture of Empathy- the ability to relate to and associate vicariously with the pains of others, Compassion- understanding and having a desire to ameliorate the pains of others, and Care- feeling concern for and interest in others. 
All these three can be substituted for Emotional Intelligence. 
Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express ones emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships resourcefully and empathetically. It is the capability of individuals to recognize the interplay of emotions both in themselves and in others, to label them appropriately, and to use the information to guide thinking and behavior in a bid to adapt to different environments and achieve ones goals.
 It takes emotional intelligence to build influence, and anyone who cannot empathize with others and then act in a compassionate way towards them cannot build influence.

Even the corporate world has started making a distinction.
We now hear about two types of ethics people are taught to distinguish between; Character Ethics, and Personality Ethics.
Character Ethics refers to teaching people and helping them imbibe inner values when dealing with others; for instance there are now modules that attempt to show employees the benefits of loving clients and being genuinely pleasant to them, and these training methods attempt to inculcate and imbue in them these values.
Personality Ethics on the other hand are all about teaching people to develop cosmetic/aesthetic values when dealing with others; so some employees in several organizations are taught to smile even when they might dislike a person. It’s a bit like a “fake it if you can’t make it” type of thing.
But beyond the workplace and in life generally if you will learn to really care for people it will be easy to build influence over them and to get their allegiance.
It is not how much you know as much as it is how much you care that helps you develop influence over others.
People are more prone to following you if they are convinced you have their interests at heart. 

The third key to building Influence is what I’ll just call Vision Ownership. When a person can get others to own his vision he will be able to very effortlessly build influence over them. If people will follow you without let, hindrance or reservations they will do so because they see their future in where you are going. If they see you are headed in the same direction as they are it will be very easy to have influence over them, and the average person will be more inclined to contribute his quota to the actualizing of anything he will benefit directly from.

This brings us to the next component of our definition. Leadership is the art of influencing people to act of their “volition”.
To act of their volition is for their actions to be voluntary. If a person feels compelled to do whatever he is doing at anytime then you could be exercising any number of things over him from intimidation, blackmail, and threats; any of all the aforementioned, but anything other than leadership.
Once people are not acting willingly anymore it is manipulation and not leadership that is being implemented.
If in your workplace, church, school, or any point of social activity where you have subordinates people under you feel like they are being compelled or manipulated then what you have over them is not leadership. 
If you had it once but have now resorted to such underhand tactics to keep it then you have lost it without even knowing.

The final component in the definition of Leadership I have given above is “collective”. Leadership is the art of influencing people to act of their own volition towards the attainment or accomplishment of a common goal or collective objective. 
This sort of brings us back to what we had earlier spoken about concerning how to build Influence. People will not follow you when they do not own your vision, and until they own your vision they will not see what you are trying to accomplish as theirs; they will not consider it a corporate or collective objective.
Leadership is not seen in a bid to attain an individual’s objective, it is seen in an attempt to accomplish a collective goal. So if you cannot sell your vision to others and get them to see their part in it, as well as what they stand to benefit from it, you cannot be an effective leader. 

Having defined Leadership we will now move to another important juncture in understanding it. 

There are 2 Dynamics in Leadership- The Visionary Dynamic, and the Responsive Dynamic in Leadership. These two are required in effective leadership but unfortunately most people tend to incline towards one or the other.
 Any person who learns to strike a balance and draw an equivalence between the two of them will be a very successful leader. 
The Visionary Dynamic is that part of leadership that is interested in attaining the objective.
Those who are more inclined towards this are usually fixated on the task and pay very little mind to the people who are critical in its accomplishment. What happens more often than not in this case is they accomplish the task but leave a litany of broken people who feel used. Usually the visionary oriented people damage others wittingly or unwittingly, and so when they have another task to accomplish they do not find those that previously worked with them willing to do so anymore as they would have lost all the goodwill they might once have held.
The Responsive Dynamic is that part of leadership that is focused on managing relationships. 
Those who are more inclined towards this are fixated on people and how they feel. The challenge here is that such people do not accomplish very much eventually; you probably are not going to get things done and deadlines met if you are a responsive oriented person or you commit to a responsive oriented person time bound objectives that will require team work. 
Such a person will spend all his time mothering and smothering people until the deadline passes; he is the regular Mr. Nice Guy who cares for people but the problem is he cares too much about people’s feelings to be of much use to them or the organization.

A good leader knows the right balance between the two and knows how to put the squeeze just enough on his people as well as the right moment to let it go.

If we place the two in a way in which they are inextricably intertwined we will have the right formula for effective leadership- Building bridges while accomplishing tasks.
The visionary oriented person builds walls and the responsive oriented person accomplishes very little tasks. But the good leader builds bridges while accomplishing tasks.

In the next article we will be looking at the 5 levels of leadership.
See you then.

THE MONASTIC CYCLE (Part II)

THE MONASTIC CYCLE (Part II)

I had finished writing and had a few days earlier posted the first installment of the Monastic Cycle before I got into an interesting conversation that led to the writing of the second. 
I was speaking with a friend of mine, an economist and senior lecturer in a private university of repute, and we were discussing the article when the terms “economy of salvation” came up. I had never thought of such a construct before; so I sat back to listen to him as he told me how the concept of the Monastic Cycle I had brought up fit into the science of economics.
Among several other things he said, he said to me- “Suffering is what scarcity is in economics.  Scarcity determines value and it is for this reason that need is essential in seeking God.”

I immediately understood what he meant as I had done some research previously on human nature and why it was that we only turned to God in our times of need. That was the basis for the article on the Monastic Cycle in the first place. 
The need makes us seek God and along with the material benefits that seeking Him brings there is order, meaning, and some sort of structure that is added to our lives. 
However, for most humans there is a tendency to turn away from Him the moment we assume we have achieved or attained the comfort, convenience, or relief that made us turn to Him from the onset.

That turning away brings considerable tragedy, disadvantages and pain for the whole community and society that does so. It has implications for the lives of those who do.

I once heard a person recount a story he heard from someone many years ago. Many decades ago in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, that “someone”, a missionary was preaching in a village marketplace; he held up a Book and said to the people- “This is God’s Book!” Then he explained to the people how it would affect every area of their lives. After he spoke, and the crowd dispersed, a man walked up to him and told him the story of his tribe. His ancestors had had a Book they lived by and it produced unprecedented prosperity in their land far west of the great mountains; but one thing led to another and complacency entered. His forebears were then driven from their lands and in a perilous crossing over the mountains to the east they lost the Book.
Generations later the tribe did not know how to live anymore as they had lost the Book that was a compass for every area of their lives.
The man then told the missionary that two weeks prior to their meeting an old lady from his tribe had a dream of a foreigner standing in a village marketplace and holding up the Book. She saw in her dream that if the elders sent someone on that particular day he would meet the foreigner. So the man looked at the missionary and asked a simple question- “Will you bring God’s Book to my tribe so that we will know how to live again?”

In this second part of the “Monastic Cycle” we will take a historical journey through the annals of time and see that there is a common tragedy among different people groups throughout the various epochs in history; the tragedy of losing God’s Book and forgetting how to live. We will see records that clearly reveal that when a critical mass of people have this Book and apply what it teaches in their lives, a nation is transformed; in like manner whenever a critical number of people abandon this Book and stop applying it in their personal lives, that nation begins to destroy itself. 

According to Americans for Divorce Reform the divorce rate in the U.S is one of the highest in the world with 43 % of first marriages ending in separation or divorce within fifteen years. America is said to have more than two million inmates incarcerated in prison- the highest per capita in the world. I will not speak much of its alcohol, drug abuse, gambling, and pornography epidemics.
Interestingly, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, more than 84 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian. 
The apparent contradiction in this is resolved when we consider the results of a 2002 poll by the Barna Group of Ventura, California which shows that only 7 percent of adults aged eighteen to thirty-five make moral choices based on the Bible.
In Western Europe the situation is worse; according to the European Values Study only 21 percent of Europeans say religion is “very important” to them and just 15 percent attend a place of worship once a week. I would wager that a great number of these people that attend a place of worship are likely to be from both Sub-Saharan and North Africa. Europeans increasingly view a belief in God and the concept of religion as an irritant and an impediment to progress. 

But it was not always like this. We saw in the first part of this series (Monastic Cycle part I) that Gordon Cosby, the founding pastor of Church of the Savior in Washington D.C, noted a pattern as he studied the evolution of religious orders. Like we said in the first part-
“First, an idealist attracts people with a strong sense of devotion. The devotees then form a community. Usually there are certain behavioral traits  that become prevalent in most of such communities. One of such traits is discipline- hence the strict rules of founders of orders like Benedict and Ignatius.
 Disciplined groups tend to prosper, this is because discipline creates industry and industry produces wealth, but that very success ultimately undermines the group’s commitment and leads to self-indulgence, and at this point the movement begins to fall apart. 
All these happen and then someone comes along to revive the spirit of idealism. After this happens the cycle starts over again.”

In England in the time of John Wesley (1703-1791), the Monastic Cycle was at the bottom phase and English society desperately needed that idealist who would lead the upsurge. The wealthy elite who were products of the revivals that ensued out of the practice of the principles enunciated by the Bible from pulpits of yore had grown complacent and over time had become impervious to the needs of the less privileged. There was no advocate for the poor and the oppressed. There was terrible hunger in the land. The weak and the young succumbed to epidemics of tuberculosis, diphtheria, and cholera. Children of the poor, from as early as the ages of four and five, went working in factories and mines, often working for more than twelve hours a day in hazardous conditions. In textile factories little children were scalped while crawling under big machines to pick up loose cotton; several fell into the machinery and died.
In the mines, children hauled large baskets of coal on their backs. Because animals cost too much to replace owners used small children to work the coal mines. Businessmen took advantage of the poor to build their empires and the Church of England did nothing.

It was against this backdrop that John Wesley emerged.

While studying at Oxford he became disenchanted with what he saw. The disconnect between the Church and society, the low morals and the unbridled cruelty, and the complacency of the clergy. Being a clergyman himself he felt a need to reform those practices and aspects of Church culture that were not in consonance with what he read in the Bible. He felt the need to help make the adjustments that would see to it that the Book produced the transformation in society he knew it could.
Having been rejected by members of the Establishment he began to reach out to thousands of people. As he was not given the opportunity to share in church buildings he went out in open squares and fields, preaching and making converts by the thousands. From them he trained over ten thousand small group leaders and with them discipled the larger body of new believers; they were taught accountability, honesty, leadership, godliness, the value of hard work, and love and respect for one another among other things.
His work led to the emergence of a middle class that moved the economy of England and also produced new innovations and products that led to the transformation of society. 
An example of John Wesley’s work was a businessman named Samuel Plimsoll who constantly witnessed the sinking of merchant ships and the subsequent drowning of hundreds of sailors and employees as a consequence of the overloading of the vessels. Most of these merchants were fond of this because they made huge insurance claims and maximized their “losses” in order to make humongous recoveries. 
To combat this Plimsoll created a device, since called the “Plimsoll Mark”, which marked a line on the ship to indicate a safe loading level. 
Other examples of the Wesleyan Reformation include Florence Nightingale who developed the modern nursing profession, and Elizabeth Fry, who led the reformation of the prison system.
William and Catherine Booth picked up Wesley’s legacy, and having been directly influenced by his writings and teachings they went on to found the Salvation Army, an organization that has done arguably the most work for the poor. 
As the reforms that John Wesley produced from the Bible worked in England many of the nation’s elite watched in trepidation as the French Revolution (1789-1799) saw the massive uprising that led to the killings of members of the upper class constituted by members of the French monarchy, it’s nobles, and the corrupt priests who had used religion as a tool of subversion. The movements led by the Wesleys prevented the same outcome from occurring in England. 

Earlier, it was a similar position Martin Luther found Germany in. Things had gotten to the bottom, there was a massive wave of corruption and the rot that was a characteristic of the Dark Ages saw to it that there was complete spiritual and academic illiteracy among the masses. The nobles and priests had exclusive authority and the people were kept under perpetual servitude by keeping them ignorant and separating them from truth. 
Luther was a young man in 16th Century Saxony who entered a monastery of Augustinian hermits while hoping to find salvation for his soul. After trying everything he could he felt all the more lost as he soon found that no amount of works would soothe the guilt he bore. As he heeded the advice of the leader of the Order of hermits in the monastery he began to search the Scriptures himself. While on a trip to Rome after being sent on an errand by his abbot he came to the “very gates of heaven” as Rome was then called; while there he opted to do more penance by walking on his knees up the stairs as he was instructed; the tradition was that a person could receive a fifteen year reprieve from “purgatory” if he did this. It was as he did this he heard a voice that said to him “The just shall live by faith”, he realized this was a portion of scripture he had seen in the Book of Romans, this scripture made such a deep impression on him after he heard this voice speak it to his heart that he got up from there and walked away.

While in Rome he was further burdened by the licentiousness and greed that was a normal occurrence in the behavior of the priests who supposedly stayed at the “very gates of heaven.” He was completely appalled by what he saw and this first led him to seek personal reformation. Six years after his ordination into the priesthood of the Catholic Church and being a professor at the University in Wittenberg he had a personal conversion experience; he felt the power of God’s Word and His Spirit in such a profound way that he immediately went out to start preaching that salvation was a gift from God and was to be received by faith, it was nothing to be earned.
In 1517, Martin Luther went out to write his famous “ninety nine theses” that addressed issues of repentance, forgiveness of sin, and the greed and worldliness of the church hierarchy. What followed was a storm that took the world apart and caused total transformation as the Monastic Cycle took its course. 

As Luther translated the Bible into common language and spread it in the hands of the masses there was mass education as people learned to read and write. They soon found that as they could read the Bible they could also decipher Arithmetics, read Architecture and write Poetry. It is not coincidental that the Reformation practically coincided with that period in history called the Enlightenment.
The Reformers launched reading programs across Germany and other parts of Europe. People were taught to read the Bible and could thus read other things like political pamphlets, news, and books on everything from Geography to Geometry. All kinds of information was then deployed, and this led to the spread of innovations and the release of creative energies. 

As Loren Cunningham noted about the renaissance in Germany at this time, “This changed all of history. Before this, there was no generally rich country on earth. Kings and tyrants were individually wealthy. A few aristocrats were wealthy. But not the common people. Individual potential exploded after the people were empowered by the concept of the priesthood of all believers. And as people learned to read, unprecedented numbers began to use their minds ever more broadly, coming up with ideas that created wealth and changed the lives of many. A middle class blossomed, and whole nations became wealthy after a significant number of people applied the Word of God in their lives. The gaining of new knowledge began to pick up speed. For centuries Europe had actually lagged behind the Middle East and Far East in creative development. They forgot much of their inheritance from Greece and Rome, while the Islamic world happily absorbed it and built on it. The Arabs invented the numbers we all use and the concept of zero; the Chinese had many inventions before the West, including paper and gunpowder. But these innovations soon paled in comparison to bright, new discoveries coming out of Europe. ”

Mariano Grondona, a professor of government at the Law Faculty of the National University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, made a remarkable statement in an article “A Cultural Typology of Economic Development” in the book “Culture Matters” after many years of painstaking research.
In listing his discoveries he said no country was a developed nation before the 1600s, neither in the East nor in the West: “It was the Protestant Reformation that first produced economic development in northern Europe and North America.” He then added that today the rate of economic growth in Protestant countries had declined in part because of the cooling of religious fervor.

We find that the effects of the Protestant Reformation and the Bible as a whole in society are not limited to the economy or educational sector.
In the United States Common Law there are Bible verses certain things are premised on, according to David Burton, constitutional expert, political historian, and author of “The Jefferson Lies” and “God in the Constitution”, John 8:10 was the basis for which a person became constitutionally empowered to stand before his accusers, while Proverbs 18:17 was the basis for the concept of cross-examination in Common Law. 

We find that the Monastic Cycle played a role through the history of practically all developed nations, and we can also trace the dire straits most of such countries found themselves in to the last few phases of the same Cycle, the point at which they turned their backs on the very factors that paved the foundations of their greatness. 

LEADERSHIP SERIES- THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND THE POWERFUL (Part II)

Leadership

LEADERSHIP SERIES
(THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND THE POWERFUL- PART II)

When we take a look at the disciples of Jesus we notice that He didn’t go in search of those with the most impressive CVs. In fact it would seem that He deliberately went for those who had very obvious defects. There was something that attracted Him to deficient and weak people, He would rather be involved in the making of others than celebrate finished products. 
This is quite different from the kind of “leadership” many chief executives and socio-political leaders are involved in giving. If you have ever been involved in human resource development in any capacity whatsoever, whether as the pastor of a church, as the team leader in a unit at your workplace, or as a teacher who is genuinely interested in the lives of the students you teach you  would have had first hand knowledge of how arduous it is to train or develop people.
The easier things to do would be to avoid “raw material” and go for the “finished products.” 

Jesus did neither.

He knew that the most profound treasures were hidden under huge volumes of dross and dirt. He knew that the treasure in the human resource was no different and as long as there was a longing for change in the heart of man and a predilection to work towards it there would be nothing that could hinder transformation from manifesting.
So He picked His twelve and did not pick men who had no reason or desire to be helped. 

It would seem to the untrained eye that He had a bunch of very unpromising recruits; men who would ordinarily not be considered by most of us for such a sensitive task even though most of us are very much like the same men. 

Consider Matthew (also known as Levi) the tax collector. Matthew essentially had a franchise to collect taxes, some of which he most likely kept for himself, while remitting the remainder to the Roman authorities to help support their pagan system. Tax collectors were so hated by the populace that calling a person a tax collector (or publican) by way of insult was considered one of the most derogatory and demeaning invectives.
By rabbinic custom Matthew could never enter the temple, never give testimony in court, and never be forgiven for his sins. No God-fearing Jews would have anything to do with him. That was how much of a traitor he was considered to be.
Yet Jesus picked this outcast among Jews as one of His twelve disciples, and Matthew had the privilege of writing one of the four gospels. 

We could easily imagine why Jesus could be tagged a renegade and trouble maker by some people when we see how He recruited insurgents like James and John the sons of Zebedee to fit into His core circle of twelve apostles. These were people that were known as “the Boanerges”, and the “sons of thunder.”
A little glimpse into the background to all these would explain the mindset and prevailing orthodoxy under which these men operated. 
The Roman Empire ruled over much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
One of the farthest corners of the Roman Empire, Judaea was a land of ancient traditions and religious fervor and decades of Roman rule were causing ever more resentment among the indigenous people. 
During the first century, Rome had dominion over Israel.  In 63 BC, after the Romans invaded and conquered Jerusalem, in order to keep control over the Galilean and Judean peoples, Julius Caesar and the Senate installed Herod as king. He became one of Caesar Augustus’ favorite military leaders, and was admired by the new emperor because of his immense development program. He undertook several projects successfully and had administrative acumen that endeared him to the Roman authorities.  
Not only did Herod expand the Temple in Jerusalem to be more grandiose and Hellenistic-Roman in style, but he also imposed a sacrifice that the priests would give on behalf of Rome and the emperor.  

Additionally, Herod had whole cities named to give reverence to Caesar as well as imperial temples and fortresses to reinforce Roman control.  The great building campaigns were not possible without taxing the peoples of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea greatly; leaving the majority in poverty.  Not only were they required to pay taxes to the Empire, but they continued to function as a “temple-state” and were also required to pay the customary tithes and sacrifices of the Jewish religion.  There was an intense offense against the Romans that was the product of being forced into idolatry along with the difficult economic reality they imposed on them.
As one writer stated:
“The demand for tribute to Rome and taxes to Herod imposed on them in addition to the willful tithes and offerings to the Temple and priesthood dramatically escalated the economic pressures on peasant producers, whose livelihood was perennially marginal at best.  After decades of multiple demands from multiple layers of rulers many village families fell increasingly into debt and were faced with loss of their family inheritance of land.  The impoverishment of families led to the disintegration of village communities, the fundamental social form of such an agrarian society…”

 The Jews responded in various ways to the rule of Rome and the appointed governors and client-kings.
 The first response saw some Jews, as in the case of the Sadducean priestly order and the Herodian dynasty, live in compromise and subservience to the Empire, implementing the Romans’ wishes and playing the classic Uncle Tom role; this was deliberately designed to secure their place in the scheme of things and maintain the status quo. These people effectively sabotaged all efforts of their kith and kin to attain redemption from the Romans and in return they were rewarded with positions and the perks of office that came with them. 
The second kind of response from another group of Jews was a basic acceptance of Roman rule, with an implied readiness to challenge the Empire when Roman injustice became too much to bear. This “challenge”  was usually carried out as nonviolent subversion and protests.  
The third response was a total and complete rejection, though nonviolent, of Roman rule.  
The fourth way that Jews responded to this circumstance was embodied by the Zealots in violent rejection of Rome, this would lead to the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
 It is in this fourth category you would find James and John “the sons of thunder.”

To think that even after their three years of close proximity to Jesus while He walked on the earth they would still be asking if the aim of His death and resurrection was to lead the final insurrection against Rome that would overthrow it and put Israel in its place was astounding.
He was patient and simply told them it was not in their place to know what times and seasons God had set in His power.

Of course we realize He did not leave them the same way He met them. He was patient to guide them through their misguided notions and obstinacy. He had spent three years teaching them and pointing them towards a superior ideology that was extra-natural, the ideology of the Kingdom of God. Even after all these they were still asking at His resurrection “Will you now restore the Kingdom (authority) to Israel?” (Acts :6)

These were examples of the human raw material He had to work with.

It is completely superfluous to speak about the likes of Judas Iscariot whose penchant for avarice Jesus already knew sufficient about before selecting him to be part of the twelve.
There was Thomas who is the poster boy for incertitude and skepticism. 
There was of course Peter who was noted for his impetuousness, instability, and garrulousness.
These were just some of the other members of the group of twelve whose individual dispositions were equally dismal.

I cannot but imagine the dreary outlook a person who took a cursory glance at this bunch would feel, especially when one considers that it was these same men that would be the custodians of divine secrets. 
It was on these men that all hope for the advancement of the Kingdom of God would lie. 
Jesus did not just take a casual glance at them, He took a long look and saw potential that many of us would not see.
This is the way God sees- He sees the possibility in every “impossibility.” He sees the finished product in the primal matter of the human resource.

It is this same perspective that sets the genuinely strong apart from those that have some indices of power and thus think they are strong.
True strength is measured by how the “strong” treat the weak. 
There are human beings who imbibed this same mindset through history, and it was this mentality that made them strong in the eyes of God.
The one who is genuinely strong is the one that protects the weak. 
The one who is genuinely strong is not the one who is willing to trample on others in order to look like something he is not, he is the one who wants to make men.
He is the one who is committed to making heroes out of zeroes.

This is the kind of leadership we must all aspire to give, and the sort of leader we must all strive to be.