• Monday, April 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Uplifting leadership: Organisation or institution

Leadership is about serving humanity

The African Nations Cup finals match between Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria is an excellent example illustrating the difference between an institution and an organisation. Nigeria’s objective was to get to the semi-final as a target for the team coach. Being the host, Ivory Coast had an underlying objective: to host and win.

Displaying at the final game were the underlying objectives of the teams. The Super Eagles of Nigeria had met and surpassed their target. Coach Peseiro need not worry about the renewal of his contract. His staff and the players played like an organisation, winning each match as much as possible to get to the set line, the semi-final. An organisation is a team formed to accomplish specific goals, objectives, or missions without considering what happens afterwards.

“Leaders who have excelled in transforming organisations into institutions have leveraged aligning their self-interests with broader interests that serve a greater number of people beyond their associates.”

On the contrary, the host, Côte d’Ivoire, after having overcome many misfortunes in the tournament, displayed an institutional mindset and attributes in the final. We are not there until the trophy is lifted. To Emerse Faé, life has placed on his lapse what he lost as a player who was forced to quit his playing career at 27. His appointment to be in charge came after a narrow escape in the first round, and the results thereafter showed there was an atmosphere for resilience and recovery in place. An institution has broader objectives than an organisation.

The Ivory Coast players planned the final match with an institutional mindset. They leveraged the goals set, the existing atmosphere, and the experience they had through overcoming adversities during the group and the knockout stages. They deserved to lift the trophy as the most trusted and resilient team in tournament history. It is only a team that can overcome adversity and win games while trailing their opponents that is genuinely a trusting and resilient team.

Let’s take one example before I emphasise the importance of trust and resilience as differentiating factors between an organisation and an institution. Liverpool lifted the English Carabao Cup last Sunday against Chelsea. Liverpool played like an institution, scoring the differentiating goal at 118 minutes. Who scored the goal? The team’s captain, Virgil van Dijk, made an attestation to the need for leadership influence in organisations and institutions. Liverpool was resilient, coming behind Fulham to win the first leg of the semi-final match. If you cannot be resilient, you cannot win and be an institution.

Many business organisations and nations think they are institutions, but they aren’t. One of the failings of Nigeria as a great country is the absence of governance institutions that hold people accountable and avert the creation of a culture of no consequences for wrongdoings. Most of Nigeria’s corporate organisations are replicas of public Nigerian organisations. It is a game of what is in it for me or my self-interest, which is above the interests of the generality of the people. Leaders who have excelled in transforming organisations into institutions have leveraged aligning their self-interests with broader interests that serve a greater number of people beyond their associates.

In the process, they had earned marks in the sands of history. They have created a legacy by living something in people and starting something that outlived them. It is that simple! To be a transformational leader, relegate your self-interests below the collective interests of others. If it is suitable for the majority and your organisation’s future, it will be good for you in a compensatory way.

So, organisations are run by rules, policies, and regulations; institutions develop customs and values translated into culture. When a goal or objective is aligned with the culture, the formulated strategy becomes a potent weapon for the organisation to meet its goals. Meeting the goals consistently on the platform of culture, strategy, environment, and people are the critical drivers that make an institution.

The Ivory Coast team became trusting before showing resilience during the tournament. Adversities are unexpected, but our responses to them build our adversity quotient, also known as the resilience factor. Trust is the foundation, and resilience is the output. To be a trusting team, the leader must develop shared values, share vulnerability, and set broader objectives that impact people in multifaceted ways.

Emerse Faé, the Ivory Coast coach, was not lucky to have written his name in gold. He leveraged the existing pillars of institutions in the team to bring out the best in the players during adversity. He didn’t lose focus until the trophy was lifted. Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, has lost seven cup finals in his career, winning eight before the last Carabao Cup. How I wish he was the coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria during the last African Cup of Nations tournament.

In the final match against Chelsea, Liverpool kept pushing until the 118th minute. Jurgen Klopp is trying to avoid repeated feelings of losing a cup final. One notable thing it did in the tournament, especially in the final game, was give opportunities to inexperienced youngsters like Jayden Danns, James McConnell, Bobby Clark, and Jarell Quansah. No one does that except a leader who builds institutions by living something in the organisation and placing their personal goals above the collective goals of a larger number of people, whether in corporate or public governance.