• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Like play, like play!

Leadership is about serving humanity

My dad lived to the age of 91 and continued doing his several miles a day brisk walks, fully decked out in his joggers and sweatshirt, right up to about two months before he passed. Everybody on his large estate knew him. And why wouldn’t they? With a genuine smile on his face, he would playfully greet everyone. And I literally mean everyone, from the security men to their big bosses. For him, life was simple and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

His favourite line? “Bi Oloun se fe niyen” (That’s how God wants it.) Once he utters those words, that’s it. He turns his face away from that issue and carries on with his life. Did he ever get stressed out and worried? He was only human, so of course he was. He, however, learned to quickly let go and not beat himself up about things he knew he couldn’t change by himself. He understood his emotions and had mastered how to manage them—the crux of emotional intelligence.

There’s a saying in the UK that you know you’re getting older when you find yourself older than all those you saw as authority figures while growing up, i.e., school teachers, referees, policemen, and some others. To this day, my inner man refuses to believe he’s older than football referees. In addition to the old English saying, though, I would like to add this:.

You know you’re getting along when your children start to accuse you of the same things you accused your parents of. Is it when I excitedly tell them or my wife a story and I notice my excitement is just not being reciprocated? Only for them to stop me mid-sentence and mid-gesticulation with, “Dad, we’ve heard this more than ten times.” Or is it when I’m chatting with a teacher or any such third party, and as is typical of us Akandes, I inject a bit of humour into the conversation, and I catch that look of “here we go again” on my children’s faces because they’ve heard that same joke over a hundred times?

Rational arguments are more useful when employed to further back up the emotional one rather than using the rational argument to lead.

My siblings and I did that all the time and just couldn’t understand why our daddy still laughed at a joke he had told over a million times! Just like dad, who was by no means a tall man, would always jokingly ask any tall man he met if he could give him a couple of inches to add to his height, I too, being bald, have often found myself asking anyone with anything remotely resembling an afro if they could spare me a little of their hair too.

Na wa o… I guess things have come full circle now. What my children don’t know yet is that in a few years, they will very likely be telling similar tired jokes. Our God has a great sense of humour, as the apple rarely falls far from the tree.

Outstanding leaders are those who are able to nurture an emotional bond with those they lead and are able to use this to bring out the best in them. They are able to inspire people around them to do more than they thought they were capable of. They’ve learned how to galvanise their people to work as a team, which in turn produces phenomenal results. They know how to make their staff feel good about themselves, motivating them to soar.

The truth is that human beings are more easily swayed by emotional arguments than rational ones. Rational arguments are more useful when employed to further back up the emotional one rather than using the rational argument to lead. Outstanding leaders are resonant, and by cultivating resonant relationships, they and their subordinates find themselves in tune and in sync in terms of shared vision and hope, both primary predictors of success in any endeavour, whether this be a family, a corporate organisation, a religious organisation, or a nation.

Leadership is not a person; it’s a relationship, and effective leaders are those wise enough to spend time cultivating it. They know that’s what often sets an outstanding leader apart from a good one. Emotional bonds are said to be characterised by hope, compassion, mindfulness, and playfulness. I only need to reflect on the kind of life my father lived and his general philosophy to instantly agree with this.

My father was very playful, and this didn’t just help him to be an outstanding leader to whom people always found themselves gravitating; it did wonders for his health too. Like compassion, hope, and mindfulness, playfulness is an experience very useful for invoking the renewal process—triggering the neurological networks and endocrine systems that enable the body and mind to renew themselves.

There’s no way my father could have guessed how many lives he touched because of his genial and humble nature or how many people looked forward to having their regular banter as he went on his walks. An appropriate venue within the estate he lived in was agreed upon for his Wake Keep, and the massive outpouring of love by people we had never met before soon revealed this to us, his children. Make people feel relevant, and you’ll be surprised to see how far they’ll go for you. If they need to move mountains, they will. Even in death, he continues to inspire many of us.

Changing the nation, one mind at a time.