By Dr. Aderonke Kujore Adelekan
In 2018, I had written an article about how unfortunate it is that Nigerians have the wrong focus during elections. I talked about how candidates made deliberate efforts to connect with voters and aggressively campaign for their votes even with vote buying. And on the other side, how citizens kept their ears to the news through written press, television, radio, and social media looking to understand the perspectives of the difference candidates as they cradle their privilege and the opportunity to vote.
In this election season as Nigerians prepare to cast their votes in a few hours, it hasn’t been much different but there is a ray of hope as many young people for the first time consider voting for talent and expertise over popularity and vote buying.
This should not be taken lightly because the choice to vote for talent and expertise over popularity and vote buying is critical. It represents the difference between a fall to anarchy or an improved state. It represents the chance that citizens get to choose the leadership that will improve their country or further destroy what’s present. It represents a sacred privilege that we should not take lightly considering the significance leadership plays in the the future of our lives and those of generations to come. It represents a new voting class engaging for the first time and hoping to make a long sought difference.
What voters needs to know is that beyond what any candidate says, an assessment of his or her history of over time is the most reliable way to select the best leaders. It is not what they say now, but what they have done repeatedly and consistently over the last 10-20 years that matters.
Academics and business leaders all over the world have come to a consensus on what makes the best leaders; they suggest that the best are servant leaders. These leaders over time consistently embody good listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. And it is the evaluation of whether the leader has been a servant leader (effective, caring and ethical) in their prior lives that citizens should be focused on.
As Nigerians with the privilege to decide our collective direction, it is time to leave our customary focus on rhetoric and affiliation for selecting proven effective, caring and ethical leaders. It is time to judge candidates for their past experience showing an ability to empower others, remain accountable to citizens, stand back at the right times and let citizens also get involved, stay humble and authentic, exercise courage against the things we all know are wrong, accept people regardless of ethnic background and ultimately steward the country with the heart of serving.
A servant leader is what Nigeria needs; one who is focused on serving his/her people first and foremost above any personal gain. This person must be:
1. Be freed from egotistic concerns, such as insecurity and self-advancement
2. Maintain a positive view of workers as individuals who are capable of developing their full potentials and becoming leaders, if they are given a supportive and caring work environment
3. Be concerned with individual needs and sensitive to individual differences in personality
4. Tailor themselves to various situations while being focused on serving the greater good
5. Serve as an antidote to corruption and abuse in power positions
6. Reduce burnout and build an emotionally healthy organizations
7. Cultivate the intrinsic motivation through inspiring followers to believe in their own growth and embrace the vision and purpose of the organization
8. Be well received by the next generation of workers, who are very cynical of authority and demand authenticity from their leaders
9. And allow independence, creativity and shared leadership
The moment has come, and there is a ray of hope in the air. Our prayer is that Nigerians will choose well.
Dr. Aderonke Kujore Adelekan is a leadership development expert, author, and philanthropist. A lot of her work is focused on raising a new generation of leaders who are ethical competent and have have a spirit for serving their nation. Email: email@example.com