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LIWDOL — Lesson #6: It’s Beyond Position

24 Jul

Top of the Thursday morning to you!

I’m so glad to have you back on “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal” (#LIWDOL), because today we’re considering leadership as it applies to us, young people. And this is how you and I are going to do it: I’ll share a lesson with you, then you’ll read it, note areas that ring out a bell to you and respond to my closing question, and we’ll strike a conversation.

You get the picture?

Smart you!

And here we go:


Over these three years I’ve been consciously into youngsters’ leadership, I’ve found something so startling. I’ve discovered that young people hardly think about leadership. It’s just as if leadership is the last thing on the minds of most young people I’ve talked to—and this has been my greatest challenge.

Many young people want to remain kids. They constantly want someone to dish the food and serve them with it. They just want to sit at the dinning, crack jokes and expect the meal. They demand, demand and keep demanding. If you test-run their minds on a computer screen, I can bet you’ll find the word “entitlement” neatly spelt out over the screen.

And that’s a problem. Life doesn’t work that way, at least for people whose desire is to live their lives at the top.

To prepare for leadership isn’t to prepare for a position. It’s far more than that. It’s not to think like a campus politician:

“This semester I’ll be vying for the position of the SUG President. What would my strategy look like? Hmmm… Aha! I must tell dad I need some cool, fat amount of money to complete an important academic project in school. When I get the money, I’ll get 8 sets of nice clothing. 5 starchables. 2 suits. 1 more native wear specially for Fridays. Then I must show a great deal of kindness too. In fact, for every campus shuttle I board, I’ll pay up for all the fellow students . . .” and so on. Then when they get elected into office, they cease all the dress-and-care drama. Why? Because to them, to attain leadership is to get into a position.

You see, my friend, leadership is beyond the position. Yes, it remains true that the symbol of leadership is its position. But the heart of leadership, reason with me, I think, is far more necessary than a mere symbol.

The heart of leadership is this: To prepare for leadership is to prepare for a life—a life of responsibility, which is absolutely sold out to the service of people. Here’s why:

• Leadership Is A Journey

Like every other kind of journey, you never see the entire part of the road—the smooths and the potholes—until you get moving. The further you go, the clearer you see. But you have a direction. That too is true about leadership when we look at it as a journey.

But there’s a slight difference between travels and the leadership journey. For a travel, you have a destination, which when reached you could text mum and dad and siblings, “Praise God, I’ve arrived!” For leadership, however, sorry to say, that day shall never come. Leadership is an endless series of life journeys in succession; some adventurous, some not so pleasant.

• Leadership Is A Process

You don’t begin today and master a game, but you have to begin anyway. There’s only one way to reach expertise: Begin practicing.

And I must inform you that it’s a slow process. You aim, you miss; you then set your finger on the trigger again and squeeze it, you hit your target. That’s what the process looks like. So I encourage you to be patient with the process, enjoy the journey, and watch what a great individual you shall evolve into if thou faint not.

• Leadership Is A Lifestyle

Let’s face this. Leadership spans beyond a mere interest for the process, it demands for consistent will. I’m talking about commitment—and leadership does have a high demand for devotion.

Commitment to a continual personal development.
Commitment to an unrepentant process for people development.
And that passion will do a lot in you, to you and through you. It will keep you late into the night; it will wake you early in the morning. It will inspire you to give your time to stimulating greatness in others, particularly your team players. It will affect you in many ways and make you a better person.

Do you now see that leadership is much more beyond the position?

Go out and live out leadership today:

Value the evolution process of leadership beyond its empowering position, because it’s the process that really sets you up for success in a leadership position. While the position might add to you charisma, it’s the process that helps you build character—the Sustainer. And excellent leaders are people of an exceptional character. Value the process: build character.

So, let’s get talking:

Do you think leadership is beyond position? How do you picture leadership?

Leave a COMMENT below and let’s discuss. We’ll treasure the privilege.

God bless you.

Today’s lesson features in KiST! Plus under #UnleashingExcellence.

I invite you to join the conversation here:

Looking forward to learning about your thoughts on lesson 6.

Have a terrific Thursday, buddy 


LIWDOL — Lesson #4: Leadership vs. Management

13 Jul

Good to see you again on “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal”. I trust you’ve been having a fantastic week. I encourage you to read this lesson from start to finish. Some good stuff are tucked away within its lines. Good luck.

The very first day we discussed leadership, Boluwatife got so curious. He displayed such an uncommon eagerness to grow. Within minutes, he started an amazing introspection. 14-year-old Bolu, unlike many other teenagers I’ve talked to about youngsters’ leadership, had no doubt that living out leadership as a youngster is, in fact, a worthy reality—an ideal that requires every youngster’s consideration, time and effort. He wanted to be sure if he’s headed the right direction. Bolu desires to be more than a boss; he wants to become a leader.

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation I once had with him on WhatsApp:

Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): Is a Leader a Boss?

David O. Lawal: Okay. I’ll note the question.
David O. Lawal: But let me give you a direct answer to that.
David O. Lawal: It’s obviously NO.
David O. Lawal: A leader encourages. A boss commands.
David O. Lawal: A leader influences others through positive examples. A boss instructs.

Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): Hmmmmmm
Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): I think I now know I am a Leader and same time a Boss
Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): But will try to amend my ways
Wojuola Boluwatife (IIC): But can a military man be a leader and not a boss?

I wouldn’t know why Bolu asked if a military man could be more than a boss and be a leader. But I sense Bolu loves authority. Recently, I saw a gallant picture of his, which he shot with (what I suppose to be) his Boy Scouts uniform on. Well, I have put this lesson together to answer Bolu’s question, because I believe you might also have a similar question to his.

The leadership-management misconception isn’t new. It’s one conflict leadership experts too deal with. Even adults, like youngsters, ask the same question at leadership workshops—both the Whites and people of colour. So think not yourself dumb to find both concepts a bit conflicting.

To show how much concern this misconception offers the leadership world, leadership expert John Maxwell had to write a whole chapter to answer this same question in his book, The 360° Leader; a chapter he titled, “Do More Than Manage—Lead!”

“People sometimes ask me to explain the difference between management and leadership,” Maxwell writes. “Here’s my take on it in a nutshell: Managers work with processes—leaders work with people.” Maxwell understands better. He’s been leading for over 40 years and teaching at leadership conferences for over 35 years. Added to that, John C. Maxwell has authored over 60 books, most of which are on the subject of leadership. Personally, I’ve learned a lot from his books and video and audio resources. He is such a teriffic leadership teacher. But I digress.

Back to our discussion. Today, with this lesson, I hope to help you figure out the difference between leadership and management. And as a result, I hope to have you do more than manage, but lead.

Therefore, let’s face it.

You manage excellently when you…

• Set goals with your team
• Use what you have—the people and resources at your disposal—to get what you want
• Execute a project, and
• Produce results

Do you see that management isn’t really a bad thing to do, after all? Any “boss” can do that.

Nevertheless, a leader—you—should do more than manage. Luckily, leadership is only a step away from management. If you find yourself guilty if being just a manager, and not a leader, the good news is that you’re missing just one thing—though something very, very significant. Let me explain.

To do more than manage, add to your management skills an unflinching interest in people . . . and there you are!

Unflinching means consistent. A leader is therefore an individual who has, added to his management skills, a never-dying interest in people.

And, yes, Boluwatife, a military man can be more than a boss; he can be a leader. All he needs to do to portray true leadership is for him to genuinely value the men under his authority. And that’s what you, too, need to model true leadership.

Go out and live out leadership today:

• Do more than manage—lead.
• Do more than keep old standards—set new standards.
• Do more than expect change—model change.
• Do more than set project goals—set people development goals.
• Do more develop problem-solving skills—also develop people skills.
• Do more improve your product—improve your people.
• Do more than instruct—inspire.

I wish to learn from you:
What’s your thought on today’s lesson? What do YOU think is the difference between management and leadership? Or do you think they’re similar? Tell me why you think a manager is a leader.

Discuss with other amazing young leaders here:

Good day.

LIWDOL — Lesson #3: Beware of the Most Dangerous Leadership Time Bomb—Extremity

13 Jul

Welcome to “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal” once again. I trust you had a glorious weekend.

Last week Pvt. Sina Arogundade, an Electrical Electronics undergraduate of the Federal University, Oye, commented, “The fact that you are very loving and understanding does not make you more of a leader than someone very firm and strict.” His statement got me thinking.

Private Sina was my senior back in the Nigerian Military School. He’s still in the military, while I’m out and have no plans to return. Truly, we now perceive things differently. And he’s right. Leadership is complex. It’s never one-sided. In fact, as a leader, you need to train yourself to use different strokes for different folks. Do you catch that?

However, beware of extremity!

Among your team, you’ll find different kinds of people—the good, the bad and the irritating. I’ve known certain people who are so resistant to love, however you attempt to show them that you care. They seem to demand some serious screwing. Rather than encouragement, they prefer to be instructed. Like robots, they need a strict push for them to get to work and produce results.

Let’s be honest, only a few people are like that. Very few. Love is an irresistible force. And most people will respond to it. If you choose to be a boss, push people around and care only about seeing results. Use the “I don’t care how you’ll do it” stroke with everyone on your team. You’ll never be disappointed. They’ll do just what you want—they’ll never fail to produce result, even if it means going through hell.

I believe that isn’t your goal. The reason you’re reading this is because you want to become a better leader. You’re not only concerned about results; you also care a lot for those you’re leading. During their downtimes, you want to show them that you really understand what they’re going through. You treat them like humans, not like robots. If this is your goal, then you must constantly remind yourself about this fact: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Still, beware of extremity!

Don’t overdo caring. Never be too strict. When you’re too caring, you’ll stifle the growth of your team players. You’ll be too protective. You’ll want to keep them from taking important risks. And if they can’t tackle tough situations, they will never get better. On the flip side, being too strict will keep your people on their feet always. If all they get are instructions without encouragement, they’ll burn out in the long run. They’ll lose enthusiasm. They’ll quit. And the job will crash.

As my dad often tells me, “Don’t be too bitter or too sweet. If you’re too bitter, people will spill you out and if you’re too sweet, they’ll lick you up.” So what should you do? It’s simple. Be firm + understanding.

Go out and live out leadership today: Follow every instruction with encouragement.

Have a splendid week.

What’s your say on this subject? How do you plan to apply today’s lesson? Let’s discuss.

LIWDOL — Lesson #2: Who Is A Leader?

13 Jul

Great day to you.

This is “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal”. Relax and let’s talk leadership once again.

Before we get down to our discussion today, I have news for you. And here’s the news:

You’ll receive this sort of bite-sized Leadership Insights from me weekly. Sometimes twice or thrice or 5 times in a week. But expect to hear from me at least once every week.

Whenever I share the insights with you, I’ll give you time to internalise the principles. Then few hours later, I’ll expect you and me to discuss the subject.

• You’ll tell me what you think about the discuss.
• You’ll share with me how you wish to apply the principles.
• You’ll share your understanding of the subject under consideration with me.
• Your doubts too? Most welcomed. I love questions…so much.

…then, I can learn from you.

That’s what it means to take the “Leadership + Personal Development” journey together. When you share what you know with me and I share, in return, the little I know with you.

The result?

You’ll know more. I’ll know more too.
You’ll get better, and I too will get better.
You and I will grow—we’ll reach our leadership potential together.

And that’s what I mean whenever I refer to you as my Partner in Progress—my PiP.

End of news.

Today’s discuss:

Let’s talk about: Who is a leader?

That’s exactly the question one of our friends—a recipient of this sort of lessons—asked yesterday. She said she wants to know who a leader really is.

Now that it’s to be, then it’s up to us. Let’s face it.

I’ll start by highlighting who a leader isn’t. (Now I’m talking about servant leadership.)

1. A leader isn’t a know-it-all.
2. A leader isn’t a commander. A commander is a boss, not a leader.
3. A leader isn’t a manager.

Who then is a leader?

1. A leader knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. He know the “why” for the “what” his people do—he communicates the “why” to his people REPEATEDLY (note that!).
2. A leader is an encourager. He doesn’t force people to do things against their wish. He rather inspires his team to do what they never thought will be valuable to them until they get it done.
3. A manager works with processes to obtain results. The leader works with people to obtain results. Often, good leaders make good managers.

Think about that today.
Share the lesson with a friend. Discuss it with him/her.
If you don’t agree with any of the points I’ve made, please hesitate not to inform me. I’ll treasure the opportunity…so much.
And if you have further questions, please feel very free to ask. (Remember, I love questions—so much.)

Go out today and live out leadership: Be an encourager.

I expect to hear from you…soon.


31 Dec


Hello! As 2013 finally departs from us today and remains forever memorable in our hearts, I want to leave you with these inspiring thoughts from the brilliant young leaders in Young Leaders’ Equip this year. I hope they challenge and encourage you to grow in 2014.

Here you go…

1. “Not until we are ceremonially crowned leaders do we become leaders, but right from now, we can begin to lead.” — Adedeji Oluwadarasimi Blessing

2. “What spurs me the most is that I realized [that] we as potential leaders can and will use what destroys others to get stronger and we will be doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Let’s keep the legacy!” — Apela Msuur

3. “Many world leaders [or men] we will remember to have made great impact in our world today are men who found a way to improve on their immediate environment, not men who gathered people and could not make any impact on their immediate environment.” — Arogundade Shina Fatai

4. “Leaders don’t escape leadership positions. It’s visible and it’s MTN — everywhere you go.” — Babawale Peter

5. “When I was much younger, I usually thought that when I grew up, I would do a lot of nice things and show great kindness to others. As I grew up, I realised that I could actually begin to do those things even as a young person. Indeed I could, and it paid off well.” — Israel O. Peters

6. “Being young has so much advantage over growing older. We can assimilate more, remember easily, are flexible … Now is the right time to bring a change and make a difference. There’s no time better than now!” — Kyepari P. Buma

7. “Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly, your wholeness when you are broken, your innocence when you feel guilty and your purpose when you are confused.” — Michael Scofield Ekanem

8. “We must understand that leadership, when a well instituted team is involved, is all about completing one another and not competing with one another. We must appreciate one another, so that our efficiency and productivity as a team will not decline.” — Akinropo Damilola Ayodele

9. “Many think getting saved is only an escape route to a blissful paradise, Heaven. That is half true. Even though we are destined to make heaven as believers, God still wants us to be earthly relevant. We are to be His representatives here, and establish His kingdom here.” — Adeyeye Samuel Adedeji

10. “Notice that the first seven letters of competence are c-o-m-p-e-t-e. A group with a competent leader can compete [with any other group] and win.” — Omolola Oparinde


11. “In the real sense, leadership is an intentional commitment great enough to be responsible for others through service and informed enough to be accountable to someone. It is an interesting adventure that one can engage for a lifetime.” — Israel O. Peters

12. “Be a team player . . . No matter how ‘Lionel Messi-like’ a player is, he cannot win a match all by himself — he needs the assistance of his teammates.” — Adeyeye Samuel Adedeji

13. “It might take a man two weeks to clear a plot of land. Doing this takes time and energy. But teamwork helps to divide the task and double the success. When a team gets to work on a farm it might only take just two days to do the task with less energy, stress and strength.” — Babawale Peter
14. “Stand up tall with your shoulders raised and your hands glued to your partner’s, and run towards your goal. You’re unstoppable when you move as a team.” — Israel O. Peters

15. “You need God, yourself and the right people — [though] not everyone — to get to the peak of your success.” — Kyepari P. Buma

16. “It is only the dead who have no problem. Problems are only opportunities in work clothes. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Every problem hides a possibility.” — Blessing Igwemadu

17. “If you don’t see greatness in yourself, you can’t make efforts on actualizing your potential. … It’s in you and me. You’re a genius. You are the change the world needs. You’re the light they look up to. Come on, get up! Face the truth and be in the group of the courageous. For whatever you do, people are bound to talk. It’s an unavoidable fact. It’s up to you to either let it ruin or build you.” — Kyepari P. Buma

18. “It’s rational to desire success in life but irrational to detest challenges.” — Babawale Peter

19. “It’s not just about knowing what’s happening around you but all about changing for good what’s happening around you.” — Israel O. Peters

20. “Leaders are experts in bringing out the best in others — making evident internal excellence.” — Adeyeye Samuel Adedeji

21. “Credibility is the foundation of leadership.” — Ken Solomon Ajiduku

22. “A true leader is one who is always ready to receive people regardless of whom/what they are.” — Soladoye Olusegun John

23. “Let this [phrase] ‘thank you’ not depart from your mouth, but you must utter it day and night, to mean every letter of it; then will you make your way prosperous, and you will have a resounding success.” — Adeyeye Samuel Adedeji

24. “There’s nobody that goes beyond what he sees impossible … The farther you see, the more you read possibilities in impossibilities. Your vision either drives or limits you. Avoid blurred visions and fire on. You can do better than you imagined.” — Kyepari P. Buma

25. “You can find that thing you are looking for but you just need to look in the right place … Never give up no matter what. We all know that a great work is done against gravity while trying to move up. So don’t be lazy. Look around yourself and you will find many opportunities.” — Moses Otunla (Fearless Privilege)

26. “Many think getting saved is only an escape route to a blissful paradise, Heaven. That is half true. Even though we are destined to make heaven as believers, God still wants us to be earthly relevant. We are to be His representatives here, and establish His kingdom here.” — Adeyeye Samuel Adedeji

27. “This is the time we should be alive and bubbling with a vision, knowing that the time is very short. An effective prayer and intercessory life is one of the major ways you can make a solid contribution to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.” — Ayansola Ayomideji Olamilekan

28. “The world suffers a lot not because of the violence of bad people but because of the silence of good people. Don’t keep mute when you have to speak up, come out of the multitude and make a difference.” — Kyepari P. Buma

29. “Great leaders don’t wait for all the resources to gather before taking a leap. Rather, they always take the giant and bold step first, then the resources fall in [place].” — Adeyeye Samuel Adedeji

30. “I charge you today to be a youngster with purpose, whose life is precious to others and who has brought the future closer for good. Be a map to the lost, a light to those in darkness, hope for the hopeless, eyes for the blind, joy to the world and indispensable to God.” — Israel O. Peters

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