Management experts have developed a set of introspective questions that can help in assessing an individual’s standing vis-à-vis acceptable team work, leadership and work place effectiveness qualities. I believe that all of you will be well-served by considering them. I therefore invite you all to think about these. Assessing yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, please attempt to answer the following questions:
Are you able to maximise efficiency in your use of time and resources?
Are you able and willing to initiate action? Do you instill motivation? Do you provide guidance? Do you instill confidence? Do your words and actions build morale? Do you seek to create and maintain an efficient work environment?
It is my hope that the questions above helped in nudging you in a direction that would take your career in the Lagos State Civil Service to the highest levels. This is because, if you make a decision to follow the suggestions embedded in them, it will stoke a desire to either aspire to leadership or to improve your leadership skills.
As is well known, the government of Lagos State led by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode fully recognizes the enormous value that knowledge and soft skills training bring to bear on the attainment of the strategic objectives of the government and the public service of Lagos State. Also, the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions has always been in the vanguard of advocating for the institutionalisation of essential training programmes that benefit the most strategically-placed officers in the public service. Thus, I am delighted that we are witnessing yet another occasion to demonstrate this noble commitment of the Lagos State government.
The need for ensuring and assuring the efficiency and effectiveness of public institutions has never been greater than now. In a dynamic age of constant changes, it is widely agreed that institutions must have clearly-defined missions that are relevant to the needs and aspirations of its stakeholders. Following this, the human capital at the helm of leadership in these institutions must have the courage to envision a future that realizes the attainment of the defined mission of the institutions. In order to actualize the vision, however, leaders must be trained to possess both the hard and soft skills that are fundamental for success.
The Anglia Ruskin University clearly articulates the benefits of strong leadership skills as follows: “In order to make the most of your proficiency in the workplace, it is important to develop your leadership skills. Whilst talent and a good work ethic will take you to a certain level, learning how to lead will get you to the top of the tree. If you can demonstrate that you know how to lead, you will often be rewarded with a position that carries more responsibility, the ability to delegate and, of course, a good salary. Those who can lead know how to make important decisions that affect both themselves and people across the business, without deferring to anyone else. This is an absolute necessity for getting ahead within business – as long as you can prove the decisions you made were the right ones…”
That observation is profoundly true as it relates to the benefits of leadership skills for the leader. I also wish to briefly comment on how the possession of the right skills will positively impact on the effectiveness of institutions. One of the foremost business strategy thinkers in modern times, is credited as profoundly observing that “leadership is the most influential and critical element of all businesses. Effective leaders have the necessary tools and skills to inspire and impact their teams allowing firms to run competently and smoothly. As a good leader, you should understand the mission statements, objectives, action plans and goals of the organisation to be able to lead your workforce into realizing them.”
I fully agree. Only strong and trained leaders can envision the right and appropriate future for organisations. Where leaders do not possess the attitude, aptitude and skills that are relevant for the times, they become fundamentally flawed in any attempt to craft a beneficial and compelling vision for their organizations. And, as we all know, in the absence of vision, the people perish as the institutions become rudderless and their journey becomes one without a map.
Trained, visionary and, therefore, strong leaders will also beneficially impact their organisations by being able to inspire the people in the organization to enthusiastically buy into the vision crafted by the leadership. There is no effective leadership without a mobilised and enthused followership. A strong leader who resolutely believes in the vision of the organisation will magnetically attract followers who will join the movement to fulfill the mission and realise the vision. This calls for the presence of excellent communications and relational skills in the leaders of organisations.
In today’s world, it is indisputable that a strategic leader must be able to act as a communication champion and a sense giver rather than just as an information processor; he/she must be able to use key elements of effective listening and understand why listening is important to communication; he/she must be able to utilize candor to appropriately improve communication effectiveness, and recognize and apply the difference between dialogue and discussion; he/she must be equipped to incorporate metaphor and storytelling into leadership communications, select an appropriate communication channel for the message and effectively use social media and non-verbal communication. Furthermore, and perhaps, most essentially, he/she must be able to effectively communicate during times of stress or crisis.
Trained leaders also know how to manage their own and other people’s time effectively. Being able to do so is critical when it comes to making the most of the leader’s time in the office and not becoming overwhelmed. Furthermore, it also ensures that the trained leader’s team completes everything it is supposed to do.
Furthermore, benefits that leadership skills can bring include the ability to resolve conflict, the ability to negotiate effectively for the benefit of the organisation, the aptitude to innovate and the skill to communicate quickly and effectively.
The Lagos State Civil Service has always been in the forefront of innovation and dynamic effectiveness in the nation and I can assure you that Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, is dedicated to the maintenance of this noble position in the country.
Dr. Oke writes from Lagos