• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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On leadership and leading with respect


Recent developments across the world and in Nigeria caused me to recall an important lesson I learnt early on life’s journey. I recall when as a new graduate just joining the then NAL Merchant Bank in 1984 an elderly mail room clerk being extremely rude to me. I asked him politely what I did to justify such disrespect as I had never disrespected him. He was surprised that I dared to question him since he was older and had been in the bank much longer than I; but he changed his attitude towards me thereafter and was never rude again.

The belief that one has a right to speak in a disrespectful manner to a child, a woman, a man or a subordinate or act in a disrespectful way should be challenged by any reasonable observer or onlooker.

My experience is that those who intimidate have a need to display their power and want to browbeat or stifle debate or freedom of speech invariably have deep insecurities and many times use such attitudes to cover up inappropriate actions.

We must all therefore individually and collectively have the courage to challenge and condemn inappropriate behaviour irrespective of who, how or where that behaviour is coming from.

If we stay silent we are accomplices in promoting wrong standards and behaviour which invariably will encourage more inappropriate behaviour. Those who refused to speak in the face of Apartheid, in the face of Nazism and other forms of oppression also ultimately bore the cost of those negative policies. The society is much safer when we collectively stand up against intimidation. The courage of the Turkish civilians who faced up to the soldiers in the recent attempted coup d’état is rewarded by the right to continue to enjoy the benefits of democracy.

In a World where three of the five largest economies may soon be led by women (Merkel, May and Clinton) any intolerance or disrespect to women is clearly outdated and backward looking.

Senator Remi Tinubu’s recent traumatic experience at the Senate is an example of an attempt to intimidate women. We commend her for her refusal to be intimidated and for the courage to speak, disagree, and express her opinion. As a minority group in the National Assembly (women occupy only  7% of the seats in The Senate and 4% of the seats in the House of Representatives) our women should be welcomed and encouraged to participate actively in politics not stifled and shut down. A diversity of views can only help to improve discourse and debate which will result in better quality decision making and legislation.

Leadership, in particular, must set the right tone and be examples of respectful engagement, good governance and temperance.

They say the best generals never fought a war. They were able to arrive at a peaceful resolution of issues and prevent war with its attendant casualties. It is therefore critical as we continue to build on our maturing democracy for all stakeholders to respect each other’s right to question, challenge, disagree, and be willing to respond, answer and engage.

The way of wisdom is pleasantness and peace.  Therefore, an ability to respect each other, to be gracious and tolerant to others’ views are the building blocks of good citizenship which will help move our nation forward.

Sola David-Borha

Sola is a Leadership Enthusiast and Group CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc Nigeria