It is startling to discover that today, some view leadership as one of those phenomena so far removed from them. Indeed, nothing could be more further from the truth. Leadership is so wrapped around us that the earlier we realize it, the better for us all. The truth is, everyone is a leader of some sort – from leadership in the home, to that in the classroom, agencies, social groups, family circles, dormitory rooms, small units, departments, religious gatherings, supermarkets, stores, offices and so on; we are all involved! Unfortunately, though we all get thrust into leadership every now and then, not many have come to understand what it really entails. Leadership is not necessarily a matter of having a title, holding a position or cunningly manipulating or coercing others to follow one; it is integrally an issue of influence. That is, influencing in the right direction.
In this light, we can identify two broad forms of leadership. The lowest but most essential level of leadership is leading one’s self. That is, influencing (in this case, being in charge of) one’s life - living in a focused, organized, coordinated and well-directed manner. Beyond that however, one may lead one, two or more persons. Instructively, true success in this second form of leadership hugely depends on success in the first. Consider these two everyday examples of one leading another: a young person accommodated by an older relative; and an older sibling and his or her younger ones in a family. Naturally, the responsibility of leadership falls on the older relative; however, the actualization of this will depend on his or her preparedness for such (via his or her own personal leadership). If it is the younger one who has ingrained leadership qualities in himself, he will tacitly show the way. Moreover, if he also is ignorant, then the situation is better left imagined.
All we have said shows clearly that, opportunities to lead will always come. The concern will always be how prepared we are to handle such at any given time. It is unfortunate that some do not allow themselves to be moulded along leadership lines. Desperately however, we all (particularly youths) must deliberately drill into ourselves those virtues that make the difference. Excellence must be our watchword. Discipline, decorum, probity, integrity and resourcefulness must be cultivated.
Similarly, we must become more responsible in our followership. Good followership enhances good leadership. We must understand this because in reality, every leader in one setting is a follower in the same or another. For instance, the elder child who ought to give direction to his sibling is expected to also follow parental guidance; the president may be the overall leader of a country but he may also have a leader in religious or family contexts.
In all, we need to do some evaluation and check how positively we are directing ourselves individually. After that is done, we must also ask how profitably we are influencing others. Whatever level we find ourselves on the evaluation scale, one thing is sure: there will always be room for improvement. As such, we must seek to advance in the school of leadership. The world today is in dire need of leaders in every sphere of human endeavour. We must brace up to the challenge and prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead.