What Do You Want? The Question Every Leader Must Answer
Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it
IT is impossible for leadership without a clear sense of what it wants, and the attending will to do it, to be anything but mediocre. Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott put it quite well when he said, “Leadership is knowing what you want to achieve and then purposefully and sensibly taking steps to achieve it.”
Twenty-two years after his incarceration, Nelson Mandela refused a conditional offer of release from prison. He knew precisely what he wanted, and the conditions compromised it. He had a clear goal, and did not back down until it was achieved. Abraham Lincoln came into leadership with a clear mission – to free millions of black slaves predominantly in the American south, and he remained undeterred, even through a civil war, until it was accomplished.
Knowing exactly what you want and deploying the tenacity needed to accomplish it is half the job and therein is your legacy defined. Towards the end of his life, Steve Jobs was visited by Larry Page, co-founder of Google, who was then about to resume control of the company. Jobs’ advice to Page was summarised in these words: “Figure out what Google wants to be… (Emphasis mine)” What do you want?
The answer to this question is fundamental to any achievement on earth. It is what fuels your enthusiasm, spurs your determination, and enables incredible sacrifices for a cause. It will apply to your marriage, parenting, career, and leadership, whether it’s in a group of two or two hundred million.
In a time when leaders everywhere are confronted with a jumble of problems, it has become pretty easy for leaders to lose sight of their central objective, their overriding goal, what it is they want. This is all the more true for leaders in Africa, where many come into leadership devoid of any purpose other than enriching themselves. This is why mediocrity has become typical of our leadership.
Some forty years ago, General Gowon said: “Nigeria’s problem is not money but what to do with it.” Decades after, this statement has been a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is obvious we do not know what we want. We have blown away trillions of dollars with nothing significant to show for it. The truth is, Nigeria has been a nation adrift.
Today, we have a government in place that has expressed determination to steady the ship. But to do this effectively, its mission must be clear and uncompromised. It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Nigeria is either at the verge of history or otherwise. Knowing exactly what we want and wanting it badly enough will be the determining factor. Our present leadership – public and private, federal, state, local, executive, legislature, and judiciary — has a unique opportunity it cannot afford to waste. We must be clear and resolute about what we want.
Nigeria Has A Great Future.
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