• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Jay Jay – The quintessential leader

Jay Jay – The quintessential leader

Examples of good leadership can be found in every sphere of life. This story I came across is of a well-known Nigerian footballer whose leadership is a standard for what leadership should be. I must confess I’m no football fan and I have never met this footballer!

In August 2016 English soccer player Wayne Rooney was retained as England Captain by Sam Allardyce (then England team manager). A report in the UK’s Independent newspaper quoted Sam Allardyce as advising Rooney in his continuing role as captain to follow the leadership blueprint of Jay Jay Okocha. Allardyce had been Jay Jay’s manager when they worked together at Bolton Wanderers Football Club, and he never forgot it.

The report quoted things Allardyce said about Jay Jay and his leadership at Bolton such as:
•“On and off the field, Jay Jay was the captain you looked for”
•“He sorted the odd scuffle out in the dressing room, talked to the players about how we had to go out and win.”
•“He’d take the manager’s instructions and apply them in the right way.”
•“Then there was outstanding ability on the field”
•“Leading by example and showing everybody he wasn’t a mercenary which was suggested in the beginning, that he’d only come for the money.”
Calling Jay Jay’s leadership a blueprint to follow spoke of his outstanding leadership. There is no greater validation of your leadership than when someone is advised to follow your ‘leadership blueprint’. From these things his former manager said about him, we can see why Jay Jay was such an effective leader:

1. “On and off the field, Jay Jay was the captain you looked for”
A leader does not put on a garb that he takes off when he is off duty. Sam Allardyce attested to the fact that Jay Jay Okocha was a leader whether he was playing or not. It is a responsibility he was committed to on and off the job. A leader does not send a mixed message about who he is, but rather a consistent message in which there is no contradiction between his public and private personas. A leader’s conduct must be consistent on and off the job.

2. “He sorted the odd scuffle out in the dressing room, talked to the players about how we had to go out and win”
He had credibility and respect as a leader, and motivated teammates to deliver results. A leader who is not respected by his peers cannot be seen as a fair arbiter by his teammates in the event of disputes and misunderstandings. It would be difficult for everyone to look up to him as a leader, which would affect the harmony of the team.
Sorting out scuffles and then talking to teammates about how they had to go out and win implied that in addition to resolving conflicts, he also redirected the focus of his colleagues to the goal they had to achieve. A leader ensures his team keeps their eyes firmly on the goal, and continually inspires them to achieve it.

3. “He’d take the manager’s instructions and apply them in the right way.”
Applying his manager’s instructions “in the right way” meant he executed the instructions in the way the manager intended. In using this delegated authority, he did not waver from his manager’s intentions by stamping it with his own personal agenda, which was a sign of his integrity.
No matter your ability, leadership is primarily about leading from the right motives and intentions. People who use the authority and power they have been given with integrity can be trusted.

Read also: Inside Nigeria’s football betting market where luck reigns

4. “Then there was outstanding ability on the field”:
Ability is very important for a leader, as he must be able to demonstrate his competence to those he leads. When a leader shows competence, he gains the respect of colleagues and subordinates.
Jay Jay’s former club attested to his outstanding ability when in September 2017, of five players nominated for the best ever Bolton Wanderers Football Club (BWFC) player to have played at the club’s Reebok/Macron Stadium in the last 20 years, BWFC fans voted Jay Jay No.1. There is no better validation of a player’s ability than when fans themselves collectively acknowledge it.

5. “Leading by example and showing everybody he wasn’t a mercenary”:
Jay Jay led by doing himself what he wanted his teammates to do. As a result, his conduct was worthy to be used as a standard for others to follow. A leader who invests in setting an example for others to follow must be driven and motivated by something beyond the material rewards. On the other hand, someone who is in it only for the rewards will not be able to give the commitment required to the leadership role and will never have true influence. His former manager saying that ‘he wasn’t a mercenary’ showed that he was genuinely committed to the team and wasn’t only interested in material rewards.
Jay Jay’s leadership shows how much character matters to effective leadership. He proved his character to his former manager by:
a. Being consistent in his conduct.
b. Working to earn respect from teammates even though he was the captain
c. Applying his manager’s instructions with integrity; and
d. Leading by example.
These are the marks of a true leader. If he had the ability but not these character attributes, he would not have been the successful captain he was. Of the five things his manager said, four are character based while only one is ability oriented.
What lessons will you take away today from Jay Jay’s leadership example? Thank you and until next week, let me challenge you to Begin to Lead from where you are.