The sixth letter of the word leadership is “R” and for our purpose, it stands for responsibility. If leadership is anything fundamentally, it is about responsibility. To lead is an opportunity but every opportunity carries with a commensurate responsibility. So anyone who wants to be a leader should watch it; being a leadership is not ice-cream, being a leader is being responsible!
It is unfortunate that many people look for leadership opportunities or positions without thinking seriously about the accompanying responsibilities. That Nigeria has a vast array of irresponsible leaders is an open sore that assails our collective conscience. We have many leaders who are only interested in the paraphernalia of office, the artificiality of title and the vagaries of fleeting power.
Irresponsibility is especially worrisome in a situation where people offer themselves for leadership. Leadership is not by force and whoever puts himself forward should prepare himself for the responsibility. Rather than contest an election and get into the office and be irresponsible, it is better to enjoy one’s privacy and keep out of public office.
Out of sheer irresponsibility, some people assumed that leadership is all about wielding power and perpetrating impunity. They forget easily that nothing in life is permanent and abdicate from the very responsibility for which they were elected. At the end of the day, they squander resources, pollute the system and drag the name of their organisation in the mud.
The youth, as leaders of today and tomorrow, should therefore appreciate the need to have a sense of duty and show responsibility right from now. This is because if leadership fails, everything else fails. The hope of any nation rests squarely on the youth and it is essential for them to be wired rightly lest they lose their focus.
According to the National Youth Development Policy (2001), “youth are the foundation of a society. Their energies, inventiveness, character and orientation define the pace of development and security of a nation. Through their creative talent and labour power, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political development. In their dreams and hopes, a nation finds her motivation; on their energies, she builds her vitality and purpose. And because of their dreams and aspirations, the future of a nation is assured.”
To assure the future of Nigeria and all organisations that people may belong to, the youth should be ready to take up responsibility and discharge their duty to the best of their ability. To be a responsible and effective leader, you must create a vision of the future that takes into account the legitimate long-term interest of the group or organisation you lead; you must develop a rational strategy for moving towards that vision; you must enlist the support of the key power centres whose cooperation, compliance and teamwork are necessary to produce the movement and you must motivate the core group of people whose actions are central to implementing the strategy.
A student or youth that aspires to be a leader should train himself or herself to have the qualities of thoughtfulness, impartiality, justice, trust-worthiness, truthfulness, fairness, honesty, proficiency, knowledge, good communication skills, directness, tenacity, decisiveness, dignity, humility, public interest, self-motivation and hard work. You don’t build something on nothing.
A responsible leader does his best but an irresponsible wants to please everybody, ending up disappointing everyone. Bill Cosby was mentioned to have said, “I do not know the secret of success but the secret of failure is trying to please everybody.”
The story is told of a man who had a quarrel with his wife and his friend came to mediate. He asked the man what the problem was and told him, “You are right!” The wife narrated her own case and the man replied, “You are also right!” Someone who was listening to the conversation shook his head and challenged the man, “These husband and wife complained about each other and you told both of them that they were right, how could that be?” The man looked at his direction with a smirk, saying “You know what? You are right too.”
It is sheer irresponsibility that makes leaders lament and complain all the time. A responsible leader is able to cope with situations since he has resources at his disposal to do the needful in the interest of the community. If the resources are not available, he creates them.
So, lead, if you are responsible. If you are not, just follow or simply get out of the way!