Youth and Leadership: Necessary Ingredients for effective leadership -By Dr. Ahmad Adamu

Speech delivered by Dr. Ahmed Adamu during the Inaugural meeting of the National Youth Centre for Change and Positive Re-Orientation of Nigeria (YCC-PRO), at Stonehedge Hotel, Abuja on Sunday 20th March 2016.

For us to discuss leadership, we have to know what leadership is and what it is not. Leadership is not about government positions or authority, it is not about labels. Leadership is about action, creating way for others to live to the potentials, doing something to make better the lives of the people, and it is about serving others. So you do not need to be in government for you to be a leader.

It is disheartening that some youth nowadays confuses leadership with government positions, and that is why they spend so much on sycophant activities to acquire government positions. And that is a waste of resource and energy, if they really want to be leaders, with their resources, they can be effective leaders by taking actions to change the lives of people, and to even influence decision makings and institutions through democratic processes. Some may be motivated by the luxury of the government positions, and they become distracted of the real leadership roles when they eventually get there. So, first we have to believe that our leadership roles are not subjected to positions of authorities.

For us to be leaders, we have to go for actions, not positions; we have to go for results, not credit. We should not worry about whose name is mentioned or who took the credit, our aim is to see the objectives implemented. We have to channel our ego toward achieving the general ambition of our country/organisation. So, our country comes first, and once it progressed, our ego is satisfied. The youth should always be wanting to qualify, even if they think they have done so much. Never think you know it all or you are better than the rest, keep learning and then we can be effective leaders. We should forget about personal benefits, even if we have the chance, but we should be concerned about the benefits of our organisation or country.

There are some basic ingredients for youth to be effective leaders, these are categorised in 5 Cs:
The first C is Character: for us to be effective leaders, we have to have good character, we have to be modest, humble, honest, trustworthy, and keep to our promise. Some people think keeping time is exclusive to PMB, which is very wrong, we all have to keep to promise. President Buhari could not have earned the respect and followership if he does not instil the good character in himself. And so, if we have to enjoy the respect, we have to have the good character. Good character is developed, it is not inborn or exclusive to some. So we can start thinking how to develop the good character. We should not stand for personality and politicians, we should stand for the good visions and characters they stand for. We have to avoid being political sycophants, our actions and talks should be issues-based.

The second C is Charisma; Charisma is not about the size of your body or the beauty of your face, it is about how you were able draw or attract people toward you by focusing and working for them. It is natural that people will like those that care for them. So, the charisma is earned, it is developed, and it is not inborn.

The third C is Commitment: Your commitment attract people toward you and believe in you. The measure of your commitment is action. If you engage in positive activity, you are by extension telling people that you are committed, and they will buy into you. With this new national youth movement, we should attract people by our commitment.

The fourth C is Communication: Effective leaders are good communicators, people can only follow you if they understand your message. Therefore, our message has to be effective, simple and targeted to the relevant audience. We cannot talk about reorienting the society and engage in high level publicity to earn political credits, we have to engage in direct communication to our audience, no matter how small is the audience. The impact is what matters, not the coverage. The best way to effectively communicate your message is through action. Action speaks louder than voice.
The fifth C is Courage: Courage is about doing what you think you cannot do and believing in yourself. The limit to what you can achieve is limited to what you think is your limit, and if the decision is by your own thought, which you have control over it, then you have control over the limit you can achieve.

Finally, I want to advice the young people to work as a team, we don’t need thousand youth organisations to address single issue. There should be synergy and merger between youth groups, and this movement (YCC-PRO) has provided space for different youth groups to work together to achieve common purpose. It is important that youth groups are thematic-specific, we should not have so many objectives that we cannot achieve, we have to select a single issue to address. Youth should not form NGO or Civil Society just because they want to hold titles or get money, but to bring change they want to see, and they should not worry about taking the credit.

Thank you.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu is from Katsina,
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert
Pioneer Global Chairperson, Commonwealth Youth Council
University Lecturer (Economics), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina

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