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A leader that cannot solve problems is a liability

By Gbenga Adebambo
16 May 2020   |   4:14 am
Leadership is tested and defined in times of crisis. Titles don’t make leaders; it is their ability to solve problems that matters. Problem-solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do.

Ooni of Ife

Leadership is tested and defined in times of crisis. Titles don’t make leaders; it is their ability to solve problems that matters. Problem-solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do. When everybody is criticising and finding faults, real leaders create. A true leader is a path-finder, not a fault-finder. When we are always on the lookout for faults, we would seldom find paths.

The true evidence of royalty is not the blood-line, but character. Royalty is useless when character is lacking. Leadership is useless when it cannot solve problems. The Ooni has shown us all that leaders must learn to come down from their lofty height to dwell among the people, a virtue that is most lacking among the present crop of leaders.

When the pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is over, some leaders deserve accolades, awards and commendation, and the only one that has been coming to my mind is no other than the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, who has over the years, exemplified what true leadership is.

He has over the years rallied together, vibrant youths to solve the country’s nagging problems. From creating a platform to celebrate youths that are making impacts in their communities to rallying them together to proffer solutions, he is redefining the true meaning of a king. A king doesn’t just wield power and sit down somewhere expecting his people to chant his praise; a real king is one that is in the forefront of problem-solving.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, he rallied some youths to locally design a modular fumigator, under the aegis of Ooni of Ife Global Initiative. The Ooni of Ife has concluded plan to donate 72 locally-made modular fumigators, estimated at a cost of N144 million, to all the 36 states of the federation to support state governments in containing the spread of Coronavirus.

He is presently rallying some traditional medicine practitioners in the country to ensure a herbal remedy for Coronavirus and has also urged the federal government to emulate Madagascar in its quest to use local herbs in combating the virus.

I have often contended that the best leaders don’t necessarily carry titles, but impact their communities by solving problems. Oba Ogunwusi had on several occasions preached some life-changing messages through his conducts and carriages.

There are 10 leadership traits I have observed from the leadership style of this monarch that are seriously lacking in most of our leaders in high places. They are:

1. Great Leaders Surround Themselves With Competent People
One of the marks of great leaders is the ability to surround themselves with very competent people. We must be willing to surround ourselves with people that are smarter and more intelligent than us. An authentic companion and associate must be willing to ‘hurt’ you with the truth, but never comfort you with a lie.

One of the major undoings of previous and present leadership in Nigeria is that most of our leaders surround themselves with serial liars and incompetent people that are not in tandem with their visions and core values.

2. Great Leaders Value Feedbacks And Criticism
Andy Stanley said: “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” Great leaders value feedbacks and criticism. Leaders who surround themselves with people that say only what they want to hear are headed for a journey into oblivion.

A leader that is beyond confrontation would self-destruct. Great leaders surround themselves, not only with people that say what they want to hear, but also with people that say what they ought to hear. Ken Blanchard said: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Criticisms and feedbacks are the lifelines of leadership. Great leaders see confrontation as checks and not as effrontery.

3. Great Leaders Give Others The Platforms To Be Themselves
Steve Jobs said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Bad leaders can be stifling and over bearing, but great leaders give others the platforms to be themselves and nurture their individualities.

Creativity and innovation flourish when we allow people to express their unique abilities and harness their gifts and talents to solve problems. When we refuse to give people this special ‘privilege,’ it stifles personal growth and experience.

4. Great Leaders Brainstorm, They Don’t ‘Blamestorm’
Real leaders brainstorm, they don’t ‘blamestorm.’ Blaming others is using our creative abilities to come up with reasons why something is not our fault. While brainstorming put a demand on our creative and innovative abilities, the result of blaming others has always been destructive and depletive. Brainstorming attacks the problem by evolving viable solution, while ‘blamestorming’ evades the problem and attacks the person. It kills initiative and reduces people’s morale.

I have come to realise that when we truly brainstorm, we would have less time to ‘blamestorm.’ As a leader, be an encourager; stop finding faults. A leader that throws blame doesn’t usually get the best out of the people.

5. Great Leaders Have A Healthy Self-Esteem
The greatest threat to any community is an insecure leader, as an insecure leader would always short-circuit the growth and advancement of his subordinates. When a man is insecure, everyone around him is always a ‘suspect.’

A healthy self-esteem is the greatest asset of any leader and ensures that he/she sees everybody as a collaborator and not a competitor. An insecure leader would always ruin other people’s happiness, just because he cannot find his own.

6. Great Leaders Build And Mentor People
If you take a very close look at great people, you would realise that their greatest investment is always in people. Some of the most influential people in history were encouraged to succeed by some of the most well known people of their time.

Socrates mentored Plato; Plato mentored Aristotle and Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great. Alexander the great actually broke the loop, because when he was supposed to be mentoring youths and building people, he was busy building empires. He died without investing into others and his legacies also died with him.

You don’t build empires; you build people and then people build empires. Real leaders build and mentor others. I have often said that if you are not a mentor, then you are a tormentor.

7. Great Leaders Are Not Rigid; They Believe That There Is Always A Better Way
There is nothing that kills dynamism, exterminates a ‘new generation’ and poisons change than a leader with an already fixed mindset and approach to life issues. Old ways won’t open new doors. We can play ‘old school’ with our culture, but it must never be with our methodologies and ideologies. Thomas Edison said: “There is always a better way; find it.”

8. Real Leaders Are Humble And Accessible
A fool is simply someone that is full of himself. It is savage madness to think you can increase your stature by making others feel smaller. In one of his best-selling books, The Prophet, Khalil Gibra said: “To belittle, you have to be little.”

The Ooni of Ife has shown several times that the privilege of being a king must never be abused. Leadership is a call to service and not to hold followers down in servitude. The legendary Spartan King, Agesilaus II, said: “Royalty consists not in vain pomp, but in great virtues.”Humility helps leaders to be more connected with the people they are leading. And one virtue that is always clearly written on the Ooni of Ife is his depth of humility.

9. Great Leaders Create And Seldom Criticise
Anybody can criticise, what distinguishes you from others is what you are creating. Marcus Cicero said: “I criticise by creation, not by finding fault.” If you have to criticise, let it be through creating something new. So many people would have been criticising the government for not responding promptly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but his royal majesty chose to create something to solve the problem.

10. Real Leaders Value And Appreciate Contribution Of Others
It is only a great fool that would not be grateful. Great leaders always look out for platforms to appreciate people that have contributed immensely to their success. Great leaders have a culture of celebrating others.

A person who feels appreciated would always do more than what is expected. Toxic leaders are never grateful; they seldom say the words, ‘thank you’ to their subordinates. When leaders take things for granted, the things they are granted often get taken.
Steven Covey said: “Be part of the solution, not the problem.” When the only thing one can see is problem, then one cannot see the solution. Leaders that cannot create something new to solve problems are liabilities.

To all the leaders out there, you are not in that position to find faults; you are there to solve problems. I dedicate this piece to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi. We are so proud of you in character and carriage. You have shown us that true riches are not ‘material;’ it is all about the way we treat people.