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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.

Welcome to “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal” — Lesson #1

13 Jul

Two weeks ago, I started “Leadership Insights With David O. Lawal” — a series of bite-sized leadership lessons I share with my WhatsApp contacts, which I’d love to continue here. This is the lesson #1:

That you’re reading this message means that you said, “Yes… let’s do it!” to my invitation to take the leadership + personal development journey with you. And I want to appreciate you for the positive response.

Saying yes means you desire to…

• Improve your personal skills
• Improve your people’s skills
• Hone your communication skills — that is, your writing and speaking skills
• Live the rest of your life as a leader

Welcome once again.

Today, let’s discuss something really important. Let’s talk about the most basic thing in leadership: Becoming a leader.

Isn’t that what everyone wants? Everyone wants to be superior and have influence.

But why should you, a youngster, consider becoming a leader — even while you are yet to fill in the most seemingly insignificant leadership position?

I understand that’s one of the questions on your mind; and today, I’ll show you want I think is the answer to that critical question.

My answer to this is simple. I believe you should start considering becoming a leader from this moment onwards, wherever you are, in whatever condition you find yourself in.


Because you have what it takes to be a leader. Everybody does. And you’re no exception.

And there’s one other reason…

You’ll get out of school soon. I’m talking about the university. Probably in the next 2 or 3 or 5 or 7 or 10 or 13 years. It’s still soon. And you’ll get on a job. And you’ll find an opportunity to lead a team, because you’re going to become a graduate. But being a graduate isn’t enough qualification for being a leader.

You need to understand people and how to coordinate them to produce results. You have to know how leadership works.

At that point, you’ll be entitled to receive a monthly paycheck.

Do you think you don’t dress in the best attires at the moment and that makes you feel less qualified for leadership? Although you should care about your dressing, but if you can’t afford to buy nice clothes now, worry not.

Paychecks can get you nice clothes — and that’s what sales personnel call ‘packaging’.

But there’s something paychecks can’t instantly get you when you start working at a job. That’s leadership.

But personal development will. Personal development will help you improve your leadership skills.

Honestly, it takes time.

And that’s why you should begin today. I mean NOW.

Good day.

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