The Burden of Leadership -11
Yardstick by Default.
By Idede Oseyande.
#Yardstick by Default.
“Every leader is a yardstick to a potential protege by default.”
Just like life’s lessons, leadership lessons are inexhaustible. But the last ten articles on this series, have highlighted the most common leadership strengths to be emulated and flaws to be avoided from the experiences of distinguished leaders who have gone ahead of us.
As we round off the series with this, I want to bring to your notice that every leader, no matter how little the office, is a yardstick, a point of reference to a potential protege, or a historical record.
The upcoming leader can either use the good part of your leadership records to strengthen himself or use your mistakes to defend his weakness and flaws, willingly or by default as the case may be.
Permit me to drive home a personal experience.
In 2012, while I underwent the compulsory national youth service to my nation, there was a little leadership tussle back in the students’ union government of my Alma Mater.
The Secretary-General reached out to me, being a former Secretary myself, and I told him to apologise and put the case to rest.
For the sake of space, I won’t go into the details.
With events that later played out, it seem he did not follow my counsel.
But in 2013, when I returned fully to campus for my second degree, I was summoned to the school disciplinary committee for my involvement in the students union fracas.
At the panel, I told them that I had counselled the young man to apologise and move on because the political stunt he tried to pull at the time was wrong.
I had barely finished talking when the then Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the school, cuts in, *“you, tell someone to beg? Do you think we don’t know what you can do?…”*
It was obvious they did not believe that I told him to apologise. Good enough, it was not a verbal conversation, so we have proofs. They had to make me sign my Facebook account on their system right there for the panel to gain access to my chat with the young man.
Again, in 2015 or so, I can’t recall the exact date, I was informed of the actions of some of the then students’ union leaders still in my Alma Mater, FUTA.
It was a wrong move and I told them they have played into the hands of the management and the only option was to plead for mercy from the then Vice-Chancellor, who had threatened to take up disciplinary actions against them.
They were not comfortable with my decision.
*“If it were Osesky in your time, would you beg?”.*
When I heard that, I recalled what the CSO had said in the panel a year or two ago. Good enough, the Alumni’s annual national convention was going on, so I had access to the VC.
I reached out to Professor Jonathan Onyekwelu, who is also a member of the Alumni, and for the first time in my life, they saw me prostrate to appeal on students union issues.
The VC, Prof. Daramola of blessed memory, accepted our appeals, and the charges were dropped.
What is the lesson here?
Why on campus, I don’t beg. What they did not pay attention to is the fact that I always try to be on the right side. I am very cautious of my actions and lastly, circumstances are different. Some of the things they heard I did during my time in school might be out of ignorance, given a second opportunity with what I know today, I might have acted differently.
But here, you see both staff and students have the same opinion about me. And anyone who claimed to pattern his life after mine would likely emulate it as the standard.
Even when they were wrong, like the two instances I gave, they still felt it was belittling to apologise, because of the preconceived yardstick of past union leaders that they have in mind.
In summary, there are three things to note:
One, every action you take as a leader is a precedence for future leaders. They will refer to it as a yardstick for themselves or the leaders that will come after you.
So you don’t have the luxury of living your life as you wish.
Two, you don’t want to be found guilty at the public court of posterity when your works will be scrutinised by those coming behind you.
Three, so you don’t join those who get angry with history when reports of the past are narrated, because of their involvement in negative circumstances.
Now that history is being played out, this is the time to live well and do the right thing, so you don’t start paying people to twist the truth later in the future for your sake.
The end of the admonition!
I hope it was helpful?