Thoughts, Engagements, and Updates

28 Apr 2014

The Glory & Loneliness of Leadership


I agree with Ron Wagley that Leadership has unique pressures and challenges. For many, sitting in the CEO’s chair is viewed with admiration and envy, fueled by a screwed and incomplete perception narrowly focused on prestige, perks, and power. Needless to say, there is another side unknown to most: the loneliness of leadership. Indeed the penalty of leadership is loneliness. Ask Robinson, H. Wheeler and he will tell you that “the penalty of leadership is loneliness”.

At no time is this deadly side more evident than today as business leaders struggle to function in an economy crippled by recession. Unfortunately, difficult and unpopular decisions must be made in leadership to assure survival.

Earlier this year, there has been much debate between Gun Rights Advocates and Gun Control Advocates. We saw President Barack Obama and his gun control drive to reduce firearms violence. But their quest to enacting gun curbs this year seems blocked by the National Rifle Association and supporters of restrictions. It has been an unending battle of words between the gun control allies and the Senate. In fact, a whopping 71% of law enforcement officers say Obama’s gun ban will do nothing to stop violent crime. An even larger 80% say that more background checks will have zero effect. Contrary to what many gun rights advocates point out, the slogan “Guns don’t kill, people do”, is a jingle that I struggle to buy into. A gun is designed to kill people. It is a weapon of war, and a whole bulk of life is either abruptly ended or forever altered by the clutch of the trigger and the split of a pistol. For some reason, some people have decided to gun down President Obama for advocating against something that wiped out an entire crop of school kids, just of recent.

Last year January, the first day in year 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria decided to place an order on the removal of fuel subsidy with purported claims that it was crippling the Nigerian economy and promising subsequent plans to unveil a platform of economic development for the country that must be predicated on removal of fuel subsidy. In his words “We cannot continue to waste resources meant for a greater number of Nigerians to subsidize the affluent middle class, who are the main beneficiaries.” For the average Nigerian, “fuel subsidy” is just a constructive terminology used by the elites to amass public fund. Minutes after the New Year announcement, people took to the streets and began what initially seems to be a peaceful protest, but later polluted to deaths and arrests of quite a handful of Nigerians. This gave birth to the Occupy Nigeria Movement, which continued its demonstrations even outside the borders of Nigeria.

Later that same year, the governor of the world’s most populous black city, Lagos, placed a ban on commercial motorcycle (Okada) riders, with claim that it has caused multiple accident and incessant robbery cases. In response, hundreds ofOkada riders took to the streets in protest of the ban placed on them from plying some major roads, destroying government properties in the process.

Obviously, there were good compelling reasons attached to each of these intentions by these leaders. They may be doing it for the right reasons. Yet we fight them. Such actions, in spite of being justified and necessary, are made even more difficult by their need to act and respond in accordance to the yearning of the followers. Be it as it may, having tough times is not an excuse for the absence of effective leadership.

Leaders please lead!

At such times of anarchy, there is an unparallel deliberations and conspiracy among members of the cabinet, most of which will support the “enemy” and clamor for the resignation of the leader. At this point of confusion, no more than few followers may want to boldly support their leader and adhere to his ideas. At such stage of overwhelming conspiracy, there is a tendency for the leader to easily give up and resign because of the heat of loneliness that will so easily entrap him.

To the contrary, firm leadership is greatly needed during such tough times. Below are my three reasons why you must never quit that seat of leadership in difficult times:

  • You Are Being Watched

Followers watch (despite their hypocritical ranting) the actions and reactions of their leaders to oppositions and want to know “Can your gut make a difference”. If you can prove to them just like Daniel did in the Bible, that your gut can make a difference by doing what ought to be done, in due time, they will be rewarded by your courage and sing of your might and glory.

  • God Uses People to Accomplish His Purpose

Every leader is from God. The mystery about leadership reminds us that God through His sovereign insight selects and installs certain leaders who will fulfill His purpose for His people. However that does not mean that they are the people’s choice. At some point, God may bring in a visionary leader to lead his people to the next level, and at another time he may decide to bring in a manager(ial leader) to effectively handle and implement ideas that has been brought to the table by previous leaderships. Both plays different role when it comes to leadership. The former focuses on future innovations for the people, while the later focuses on modifying the structural rudiments of the organization and may not necessarily bring anything new on the table, but mostly manages what had already being acquired by previous leaders. Every leader must have a unique assignment to accomplish. For the followers that may not be ideal but for God, it may be the exact thing we need as such a time as this. That you are afflicted with hate by those you lead because of your policy does not necessarily mean that that is not God’s will for the people. God always uses people to accomplish His purpose for His people.

  • You Are Still In-charge

Followers follow the leader’s lead and cadence. What this means is that you must be able to “march even when the band is not playing”. The test of true leadership is to continue to march when things are tough and frankly unfriendly. And since you are still in-charge, why not fulfill God’s purpose by doing things that ought to be done no matter how unpopular and unfriendly it may look. That may be the only reason why history wants you on that seat at the first place.

But mostly, at your lonely times as a leader, seek out for God, because only God can give you the grace and fortitude to move amiss stormy oppositions. In the words of Ron Wagley, “God’s band never stops playing and we can continue to march to a different beat – God’s beat – and confidently lead while relying upon, being guided by, trusting in our Lord.”

Be strong. This could be your finest moment as a leader. Lead courageously! March on! Be counted among the best! 

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