“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords: that is where laws end, tyranny begins”.

…William Pit


Leadership has been defined in so many ways that it is hard to come up with a single working definition. However, Leadership may be defined as a body of people who lead and direct the activities of a group towards a shared goal. It also denotes the ability to lead, direct, organize a group or for the purpose of this piece, rule a country.

Now let’s take a look at the essential traits that characterize visionary leadership. Does it take power, money, and charisma, or is more about compassion, love, and focused attention?  A truly great leader is the hero of his own story – operating from the soul level and inspired by vision and inner wisdom as opposed to greed.  These characteristics transcend everything, including time.  Great leaders embody honesty, integrity, transparency, and abhor manipulation

Great leaders are really, really smart—that doesn’t mean really, really educated, but really, really smart; there is a huge difference.  Both can coexist in the same person, but the former in no way guarantees the latter.

Visionary leaders are savvy about interpersonal dynamics. They are keen listeners and observers of others; they understand that success is always the result of the interplay of multiple people working together, formally or informally; they know composition of groups matters; and they know how to facilitate, from afar and in-your-face, and achieve the best dynamic.  This is way beyond being a people person. Great leaders are collaborative and understand when it is time to be the leader and when it is time to work with other leaders. A great leader is both visionary and tactical.

To be a great leader, you must be both leader and manager.  You cannot, however, teach a person to be a leader, though you can hone and sharpen leadership abilities.

And lastly, a great leader has humility and the smallest ego in the room.

Don’t get me wrong:  there have been famous leaders who have lacked one or some or even perhaps many of these characteristics.  But I would not call them good, let alone great, leaders—just famous.  Or, perhaps it would be more appropriate to call them infamous leaders.


Which brings to mind, recent happenings in our polity which called the leadership credentials of some of our elected leaders into question. We’ve been inundated with video streams of the worst examples of leadership by those we elected to govern us in different scenarios across the country. Starting from the Governors’ forum imbroglio to the show of shame in Rivers State. Instead of settling down to minister to people’s needs, the politicians were busy performing series of seven day wonders, at times, very deadly ones, as if the act of government is some circus show… still we groped along as citizens and watched these politicians scorn the base by which they did ascend.


Consequently, the state of Nigeria’s pitiable socio-economic development has been a direct consequence of the actions and inactions of the leadership class that has managed the affairs and wealth of the country since independence.

Before the word GREAT can be attached to your leadership, there is, of course, one other key characteristic which you must have: PASSION.  Passion for the mission or position to which you were elected to serve. This, in so many ways, is the easy part of being a leader.  These qualities should be non-negotiable.  A person either has them or doesn’t; we can perfect and polish them but we cannot hire, promote, invite or elect them into office today and change their ways tomorrow. It simply doesn’t work that way.


All kidding aside, the challenges of being a leader are huge.  To be successful, it isn’t just a question of ‘do you have the skills, talents, personality, and so on and so forth’. To be a leader—a very high achievement that few truly can claim; it is also a question of ‘do you really want to do this job, despite all of the challenges, or do you just want the title, the money, the power, the “prestige’?  Seriously!  There are some who just want the latter and have no interest in the former.




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