Archive | Growth RSS feed for this section

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.



5 Oct

Firing at the target

Everyone desires success, everyone prays for success, everybody gets excited about success, but only few people really achieve success. Even if some people eventually succeed at least before their time is up, they will tell you that they’d have loved to achieve it earlier than they did. What’s the secret? Success never comes until your best shot hits the right target.

I remember when I was a Boy in the Nigerian Military School, Zaria. One of our dream exercises in the Military School is the Firing Range. Back then, all other tactical military training exercises—less the Firing Range and Inter-company Small Arms Competition—were performed using the blank ammo: a bullet without a warhead that only makes noise. Blank ammo doesn’t kill but can inflict injury at a close range.

What’s exciting about the Firing Range is that it’s always an opportunity to fire a ‘life round’ at a ‘Figure 11.’ A ‘life round’ has a warhead and can kill. While a ‘Figure 11’ is a wooden target with a picture of the top half of a soldier on it. It’s a kind of target specially designed for training shooters.

The Depot Nigerian Army owns the Range field. It’s a wide, grassy field of over 1 kilometre in length. Range fields are often far from human habitations. This is to prevent incidents from happening to somebody in a nearby town if a shooter misses a target. Oh, I remember, there’s a hill behind the target trenches, where ‘wash out’ bullets bury themselves.

There, on the Range field, we practice all sorts of shooting methods and adopt several shooting positions. One of the methods that’s so interesting for me is the ‘snap shooting,’ because it teaches the important role that preparation plays before we can achieve any success.

How snap shooting is done? Let me explain. The Figure 11—or target—appears when you least expect it. It stays up for about 4 seconds then disappears. Your goal is to release two shots on the target when it’s still visible.

The principle is simple. If you hit the target, you score your point. If you miss the target, you lose your point—and will be considered a poor marksman. You’ll repeat this process for about 4 other rounds.

One important lesson from snap shooting is, to hit the target (and score a point), it matters less when the target appears and more on how prepared you are to release the shots on the target when it finally shows up.

Success is a lot like that. You have to prepare for significant opportunities and be always willing to release your best shots anytime they show up. Success is a prepared reward for prepared people. No matter what age you are, you can start achieving something meaningful if you take these 6 steps I want to share with you.

1. Define what achievement means to you.

Last week I had a conversation with a youngster. In few minutes we started discussing about success, and one thing I mentioned that he found difficult to swallow was that age is neither a barrier nor qualification for achievement. If you know me well, that seems to be one of my strongest beliefs.

After a few considerations, I could figure out something was missing. He thought the only definition of achievement is to attain stardom. Even at that, age is still not a barrier. Then I asked him what achievement means to him. He couldn’t give a clear response. So he shot the question back at me.

I replied: Achievement means different things to different people. But in simple terms, it’s about setting a goal, going after the goal and getting the goal. It’s that simple!

I’m glad that changed his perception about achievement. He even started believing in his potential to achieve early success. In fact, he’s always been a very intelligent guy.

For some years of encouraging young people to start doing something amazingly significant, I’ve discovered that too many youngsters are placing their lives on hold. They are waiting for the huge target and the exotic opportunities before they pull the trigger. They’re holding back, stalling and waiting on graduation before they make any plan, start to learn about leadership, develop their communication skills and even grow the potential they possess.

Think about it: Wouldn’t you love to land your first job in an administrative position? I bet that’s your dream! Of course, nobody will hate himself for succeeding earlier than usual. (In fact, if care is not taken, early success will enlarge an individual’s ego). However, only few people are willing to pay the price to make that happen. And for you to know what price to pay, you must know exactly what you’re paying for.

2. Look inwards to see if you have what it takes.

I will keep this short. When I was in the Military School, I remember what my Economics instructors say. It goes something like this: Once you know what you want, check in your purse to see if you have the purchasing power.

You see, it’s one thing to know what you want to achieve and it’s another to have what it takes to achieve it. Fine, it’s good to know what way leads to Lagos from Abuja, but if you don’t have any means of transportation, I bet you can’t make the journey—except you choose to spend over 4 months on foot!

So what do you have to check inwards for?

  • Talent—The natural ability to excel
  • Passion—The drive for excellence
  • Skill—The knack for excellence

If you don’t have the first two—talent and passion—for what you figured out in step one, take this simple, hurting but helpful advice: quit it! Find something else you have a strong passion for and a natural ability to do.

But if you only lack the skills to accomplish what you consider to achieve, you can always learn and improve in the process. Just make sure you get up to speed with your personal development plan. (If you have no idea what a personal development plan is, and you like to have one, here is a helpful article by Bangol University, UK.)

3. Identify what keeps you where you are.

After you know exactly what you want to achieve and have realized that you have what it takes to achieve it, wake up and answer reality’s call! (We’ve been dreaming since you started reading this post. And that’s okay.) Look around you and ask yourself: What could have been holding me back from achieving success? Alternatively, what are the factors that can work against my success or stop me from achieving anything significant?

After this gentle introspection, wait for the answers to start rushing in: financial constraint, physical disability, poor environment, narrow-minded associates, etc. (Remember that age is not one of these factors. So if it comes, dispose it!)

You may decide to write a list of all the factors you feel can be a barrier to your success. You may even choose to paste them somewhere you can easily see them always. Whichever way, that’s left to you. Then anytime you see that list or remember those factors, say this to yourself repeatedly: These factors aren’t excuses for not succeeding; they’re simply conditions under which I must succeed!

Before we move on to the next step, I want to quickly point out something to you. In my country, Nigeria, some of the factors are beyond human control—they’re spiritual—take it or leave it. In that case, you have to offer prayers of help to God. In fact, the entire process demands prayer—either the factors are within human control or not.

4. Check around for people who are presently successful at what you want to achieve.

Now that you’ve made up your mind to never give up on your dream, it’s time to do some research about people who are already succeeding at the same thing you want to do. That means you have to look for models and learn from them. Read their books and listen to their tapes.

It’s also advisable to read your hero’s story—biography or autobiography. You may even find out that he has experienced a similar situation like the one you’re going through, perhaps a tougher one. Learn the actions he took to break through those barriers and see if you can do the same. Meanwhile, you have to be careful about the kind of influence you permit in your life. Make sure your model is someone…

  • You can trust
  • Who has values that are aligned with yours
  • Who’s open enough to inspire other people to achieve success

If the terms agree, then you’re save to learn more about your model.

Yes, I didn’t forget. It’s important you get a mentor—someone who can be a personal guide, who you can confide in and who can advice you.

Few months ago I fielded an interesting question after speaking at a Young Leaders’ Conference. The young lady asked that she has been told several times that it’s necessary to have a mentor if one intends to become a public speaker. “What if I can’t find someone to mentor me, what should I do?” she inquired.

My opinion? I told her that if she finds one, fine. But if she doesn’t find anybody who’s willing to become her mentor, she simply can turn to books and get some nice advice.

These days, things are even getting better. You can join communities like this blog and some fine Facebook groups and you’ll get all the direction you want. All you need to do is just drop a comment or make a post and you’ll get some valuable suggestions you need. What I mean in essence is you don’t have to bother much about finding a mentor; just find some successful people in your field and learn from them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a chance to meet them personally. If you do, good luck.

5. Think about the small steps you can start with—and take them!

Don’t wait for something big to happen before you prepare yourself for success. Yes, it may be a good idea to wait for the big opportunity to come. Why? Because you’ll learn firsthand how important the experience you get from seizing small opportunities are in preparing you for the larger opportunities. The bad news is that you’ll get the experience and lose that opportunity. The good news is if you learn the lesson, it won’t happen to you next time.

Successful sportsmen can tell you how significantly mere participating in school sporting competitions have contributed to building their career. Bestselling authors would explain to you how they have developed their craft from a 30-minute daily commitment to scribble down something. Preachers would emphasize the importance of a daily Bible study and evangelism if you ask them one of the important factors that have contributed to their success in the ministry.

The point is that success is not what you see on the game pitch or on the bestsellers’ list or on the platform. Success is really a sum of the daily little steps—especially the ones you take behind the scenes where nobody sees you.

Start something significant today—no matter how little. Write a bit today. Sing today. Make a sketch today. Paint a picture today. Write a poem today. Write an article today. Write the plot of a short story today. Talk to someone today. Preach to someone today. Do it tomorrow, and next…and you’ll be amazed how closer you’ll be pushing towards success every single day.

6. Constantly stretch yourself to get better every day.

If there is one rule of thumb for personal development, then, it’s daily improvement. It doesn’t get better than that.

I have seen this rule at work both in my writing and my speaking. That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. In fact, I do, because my aim is not to become perfect. My goal is to add value to myself and improve my skills every day—so that I can be of better value to others. I just want to get better every day. Yes, I want to get better than I am today. I want my writing to get better. I want to be able to connect with people better than I can right now. And I believe that’s true of you, too.

If you take all the steps in this article, make excellence your minimum standard in what you do and give any significant opportunity your best shots, let me tell you a good news: The earlier you discover yourself and daily improve yourself, the earlier you’ll experience success.


Thanks for the time you’ve invested into reading this article. I’ll be glad to hear from you in the comments section. Just leave a reply and I’ll respond.


25 May

When you hear the word ‘growth,’ what thoughts cross your mind? Can you picture a natural change in some physical, perhaps bodily, features in plants and animals. Or on the other hand, you think about improvement in economies: the nation’s GDP and other factors.

If you’ve thought about any of these points I had just mentioned, you have a good insight on what growth is. And here is the good news: you are about to learn something new about what you’ve always known.

Nothing excites me than growth. I’m so passionate about improving myself in all areas — spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, mentally, my writing and speaking skills. I don’t know about you, but I dislike being the way I was last week, or even being the way I am today next week. I love and enjoy change.

Few years ago when I become passionate about personal development, I thought everyone in my community was well aware of this inevitable process in the human life. Unfortunately, what I found left me wondering how much people are unprepared for the future, with the realities and opportunities tied around it. However, it’s never too late to start growing today.

1. Know Yourself to Grow Yourself

The first question everyone who desires to improve on some areas of life — be it physically, emotionally, academically, mentally, spiritually — is that of purpose. It’s so sad that many people are yet to discover why they exist. God has created everyone with a unique role to play on this planet.

No man on earth can tell you who you are. It is predestined by God, and only Him knows. You definitely need a connection with your Manufacturer to know why He’s made you. If you find it, you’re on your way to success.

2. Make Growth a Project

You can’t improve what you’ve not found. When you discover your purpose, make it your vision. Then put up a plan to pursue reaching the goal(s) you’ve set for yourself. Remember to set great goals, even if they look bigger than your physical self. Don’t judge who you want to become by what you are at present.

Think of growth as a process. It’s a lifetime journey. When you are done putting things in order and willing to start growing, get on track immediately and work yourself into it. If you stay committed to your specific, achievable and realistic goals, you will find that it becomes a project you need to work on everyday.

3. Feed Your Dream

The greatest dream killer is a negative environment. It has nothing to offer your dreams. If you’re not careful, people with low minds will be successful in talking you out of what you desire to achieve. They will give you a thousand and one reasons why you can’t achieve it. If your surrounding conditions doesn’t favour growth, apply Christ’s formula: withdraw from the crowd and find a place that can allow you go about your business. (Luke 2:42 – 52)

If you can’t change your location (school, office, home, church), feed your mind with great books that will help you grow. Meet some positive people, even if it means going to the next city to look for them, and get some encouraging piece of advice. Your environment impacts your dream and influences who you can become. You have to remember this: they really need to see the your dream become a reality. The next step will help you achieve this.

4. Start Now!

One reason most people don’t grow is because they wait for the best time to start. But really, growth doesn’t come to those who wait. I’ve found that it is attracted by only people who become intentional about improving. To make any remarkable achievement in any area of life, act out your decisions.

If you really desire to grow, you will have to start where you are with what you have. You may start with being unsatisfied with your present state — without hating it. Find your strength zone, get outside your comfort zone and start the journey towards excellence. But understand, you’ll be traveling an endless road.

5. Do it Everyday.

Making decisions isn’t hard. Managing them is a bit more difficult. But growth is gained on a difficult ground. You need to pay your dues. The key to improvement is repetition.

During service last week, a boy played the violin almost perfectly. I was intrigued. I wanted to know if my friend, who sat next to me, appreciates the 12-year-old too. “I know him,” he replied. “He plays different instruments and he finds all fun. He is really good at it.”

The true goal of growth isn’t to become the best; it’s about getting better every day. Be committed to growth. Make it fun. At the end of each day, ask yourself: What have I learned today? Am I better than I was this morning? What can I learn tomorrow when I go out?

Seize every opportunity to develop yourself into who you really want to become. Follow your dream. Make improving a daily project. Learn, grow, live, and lead.


I’ll be glad to hear from you: What other tip would you like to add? Please share.


Comment, like, share!


%d bloggers like this: