Leaders should have integrity, insight, and be able to carry others along, writes LINUS OKORIE

The great Indian leadership expert, Sadhguru, said there are three essential qualities of leadership. The first is integrity, the second is insight, and the third is inclusiveness. Leaders must learn how to play the game of inclusiveness.

Every authority on earth—living or dead—recognizes the importance of integrity. Integrity is wholeness in one’s ability to be sincere and true at all times and against all odds. It is the ability to speak truth, to stand out, to keep your words, to be trustworthy. Every leader must understand the concept of integrity, honesty, and distinction in the things they stand for. People should be able to know you for something. Even brands recognize integrity as a major instrument of quality branding. They acknowledge that integrity can attract varied resources to an organization. When quality people want to identify with a particular brand, the first thing they ask for are members of the board and management of the organization. If they find trustworthy people there, they bring in their investments. If not, they move on. Integrity is that important! Therefore, as an individual and as an organization that seeks to excel and thrive, you must imbibe integrity as an uncompromising culture and value. Hold on to it and never let go. Let your word be your bond.

The second element Sadhguru stated as an essential quality of leadership is insight. By this he emphatically asserted that leaders must have insight if they will make good their role and responsibilities.

Insight is a deep understanding about a particular matter. This is fundamentally a mental concern. In other words, as a leader, your thought processes should not be shallow. You must be able to consider issues critically and analytically, and proffer solutions to them, by the application of the thorough understanding you are able to decode about the particular situations. Insight makes you stand out as a leader. Insight enables you to look into the future and capture its essence, then retrace into the present to begin charting a path to the future you’ve seen. Insight empowers you to solve problems and create solutions. Insight is critical for leadership development as well as for team dynamics. Having insight into the core strengths of the members of your team can equip you to manage them effectively and ensure that they perform excellently.

The truth of the matter is that every person who wants to lead must exercise the capacity for sound and proactive thinking, and this stems from being a person of deep insight and understanding. You are able to process and digest hard thoughts until you produce answers. That is true leadership.

Inclusiveness, being the third essential quality of leadership, is the simple idea of carrying other people along who might not look like you, think like you, or even act like you. As you may have observed, inclusiveness is steadily growing in focus around the world because of the one fact that we now live in a truly global village. People of diverse cultures, beliefs, nationalities, and sexual orientations are compelled to work together, do business together, travel together, etc. And to show respect for one another, we must be inclusive in our thinking and disposition. You see, you cannot live in isolation; you need other people to come into your circle and exert varying influences to forge you forward and ensure you make constant progress. Every organization that seeks continuous growth must therefore value inclusiveness, starting with its top leaders and cascading down to the lowest rung of the ladder. Inclusiveness gives people a sense of belonging within a system, and with that comes an unleashing of their creativity, which leads to generating ideas that move the organization forward. So, leaders who adopt inclusiveness in their leadership approach breed win-win situations for their organizations.

The major components of the manifestos of the political parties at the moment should be inclusiveness. How they need to promote their ideas on how to close the gabs of marginalization and carry every one along and create wealth for all irrespective of tribes, religion, or gender.

As leaders continue to grow in these essential qualities of leadership their influence level begins to grow. In fact, the reality is that leadership is not about positions, titles, or even long hours of work. Leadership is simply about relationships. And the interesting thing is that there are three levels of relationship that if you understand will give you influence across board.

The first is influence with superiors. This is the ability to influence people who are in higher positions of authority than you. Your ability to be respectable at that level is one of the critical tests of your leadership development. If you work in an organization, for example, what is the quality and extent of the influence that you have among your superiors? If your superiors have respect for you and can vouch for you, it means you have influence with them. And you achieve this through the quality of your work, your value, your attitude, your self-comportment and so on. This means you are sustainable within that system, and almost indispensable.

The second is influence with your peers. By the way, this is one of the most difficult set to gain respect and influence with. They are your peers, after all. Also, you may experience envy from some of them who may perceive you as trying to lead ahead of them. Well, there are two ways to build influence with your peers. The first to do great work and distinguish yourself by it. The second, which is perhaps more important, is to constantly wear the cap of humility. When you wear the cap of humility and patience in dealing with your peers and being forward to encourage them and show up for them when they need you, you will invariably build influence with your colleagues. They will naturally respect you, and defer to you where necessary.

The third element is gaining influence with your subordinates. I mean being able to win over those who look up to you in a given setting. You achieve this by throwing up impact as an instrument of influence. Life is all about impact, and those who make impact are those who can create sustainable influence in people’s lives and in society at large. Are you one? We need leaders in this country who have the essential qualities of leadership with high level capacities to work and interact with all kinds of people and will still impact their lives and society in ways that are extraordinary. Elbert Hubbard said “He who influences the thought of his times influences the times that follow.” It is time for you to invest in yourself in a great way so as join leaders who will influence the next generation of leaders for our country.

You must remember, if a man does not have a purpose for waking up, sleeping becomes interesting.

 Okorie is a leadership development expert spanning 27 years in the research, teaching and coaching of leadership in Africa and across the world.He is the CEO of the GOTNI LEADERSHIP

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