Friends in the inner circle…. And the next president!

It was Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and politician who addressed the question of what makes a good ruler. In his view, “a good ruler is in essence a highly ethical individual whose example and loving concern for his or her people will ensure that the state functions well.”

Confucius, we learnt, affirmed that if each member of the cabinet assiduously performs his duties such that a minister is a minister, a state governor is a state governor, a central banker is a central banker, a civil servant is a civil servant, and not perpetrators of fraud in any given society, there will be peace, progress and harmony.

These utopian ideas, we dare say, are not in consonance with realities in many countries of the world today.

Talent is necessary but not sufficient to be a successful leader. One may be talented but find himself or herself in the wrong place at the wrong time

It is only in nations with very strong societal values that one can find abundance of good rulers and good followers. One is particularly concerned about the type of nation that we are constructing today. Why?

We have a nation whose economy is characterized by poor inter-sectoral linkages, import dependency, underutilization of resources, dishonesty and inefficiency, among other factors.

When we build a strong and economically vibrant nation for all of us to enjoy, it affords citizens the opportunity to benefit from policies and interventions of governments that will cater to the needs of marginalized and disadvantaged population while focusing more on unemployed youths. Why worry about the state of the nation?

Most Nigerians are concerned because it is from the followers that leaders will ultimately emerge.

There is no globally acceptable formula for leading well. I may be wrong but it is known overtime that when one comes in contact with incredibly gifted and motivated person, it is usually tempting to think that talent alone made him or her successful. Talent is necessary but not sufficient to be a successful leader. One may be talented but find himself or herself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There are times when someone with remarkable talent is in a right place at the wrong time. Talent has to be at the right place at the right time before he or she can make a positive impact on society. No one does anything considered great alone. In other words, no leader succeeds alone. A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him or her. What makes the difference is the leader’s inner circle.

Leaders have to deliver. There is no substitute for performance. But without a good team, they don’t get the opportunity to perform. Having “friends” closest to the leader determines his or her potential.

One may google to find out world-acclaimed leaders who successfully led their people, names of many great personalities will prop up including Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther King Jr. Others include MK Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, etcetera. The list is endless.

It is worthy to state that the world has been influenced by some great personalities. Be it Nelson Mandela or Shri MK Gandhi, a plethora of such magnificent minds have showered humanity with their wisdom as well as have achieved some extraordinary goals which are revered today. In fact, when I googled why Nelson Mandela was successful in government as the President of South Africa, there are several accounts of why he was a successful president.

In an article titled “External Incentives Versus Internal Motivation Nelson Mandela lived,” written on July 28, 2016, the author stated that the late South African President led humanity through empathy, compassion, and understanding, not authority. Nelson Mandela, arguably “was the greatest leader of our time,” according to the article.

And in the concluding remarks, the author was of the view that: “We can’t all become the next President, but we can all be more sensitive to our team mates’ emotions and lead with empathy, compassion, and understanding more effectively than with external incentives or authority.” Who will be the next president of Nigeria in 2023? The answer remains in the realm of conjecture!

In recent years, people in the business world have discovered the significance of teams. In the 1980s, the buzzword in business circles was management. Then in the 1990s, the emphasis was on leadership. Today, the emphasis is on team leadership. Why do leaders need an inner circle – a team of people? Mother Teresa succinctly provided an answer: “You can do what I cannot do. Together we can do great things.”

The political season is here with us again in Nigeria. Political party primaries will commence in a couple of days from now. Some of the politicians aspiring to occupy the Villa and state houses might have decided those who will be in their team. While others have not given it any thought who will work with them.

As 2023 draws near, who then are political aspirants drawing into their inner circle if suddenly they find themselves in leadership positions? This is for political aspirants to answer. But why is it imperative for us to ask this question?

We observed that some leaders create an inner circle of people, however, they are not usually strategic in doing so. We observed in 2015 that it took almost nine months for a cabinet to be formed in our country. Shortly after the cabinet at the highest level of government was formed, the country was shaking hands with economic recession. It was a regrettable case.

Read also: Lack of visionary leadership worsens Nigeria’s woes – Obi

When questions were asked as to why it took almost 6 months for a cabinet to be formed? Many reasons were adduced for late selection of cabinet members. Mr President took his time to select a team to “repay political allies, while navigating the shifting alliances of internal party politics and eliminating accumulated deadwood.”

And of course, the need to maintain an ethnic and religious balance. After the delay, we can see the consequences of our choices today. Since 2015, policy decision makers have been trying very hard to stabilize the country economically, politically and socially.

We have seen the extent to which our cabinet members have acted in a world characterized by uncertainties, COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. We have seen how best they have tried in solving current problems of poor infrastructure, insecurity, weak economy, and corruption with policies and implementation strategies that created those challenges.

We can appraise efforts made to overhaul the health, manufacturing and power sectors respectively but these sectors are below acceptable threshold at the moment. We can see that some members of the cabinet are politicians who either lift or lean.

As politicians dance to orchestrated political beats currently resonating at high amplitude, we advocate that those presidential and gubernatorial aspirants scheming to take over the Villa and 36 state houses in 2023 should search for lifters who will work with them in the inner circle. Thank you.

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