It Takes a Team

Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens (Exodus 18:21)

Few things are as difficult for leadership in the 21st century as assembling a competent team and keeping them motivated. This is because one of the most elusive resources in the world today is talent; skilled and competent people with the requisite character to interpret a vision and move it beyond its brief. Talented people today want more than a job or a paycheck. They want to be connected to great causes, to make a difference.

Recent research by Global Tolerance, a communications and culture consultancy, showed that 42% of highly skilled entrants into Britain’s workforce rated “meaningful work that helped others” higher than a salary when choosing a job, a statistic that reflects a key characteristic of today’s global workforce. What this means is that leaders who hope to get the best out of their teams must of necessity be dreamers and doers. They must be leaders who possess a strong vision to rejig the status quo for good, and leaders who unambiguously model the sort of competence and character they want their people to demonstrate. As someone said, “The speed of the leader is the speed of the team.” The optimism, creativity, and commitment of the people are hinged on the trust they have for the leader’s credibility and commitment to the stated vision.

No leader can afford to go it alone in these challenging times. It will take the collective effort of great teams to implement the solutions we need. Chile in the 70s faced a devastating economic crisis, and it took the effort of a dynamic group, which has become known as the Chicago Boys, to turn things around. Apple in the early 90s saw its market share and stock price on a downward spiral. It took Steve Jobs, returning in 1997, and a dedicated team that included Jonathan Ive, to bring it out of the doldrums and into global tech domination.

It does not matter whether you are building a nation or a corporate organization, one of the most urgent tasks of leadership is assembling a formidable team and inspiring them to be and give their best. It was the legendary footballer Pele who said, “No individual can win a game by himself.” How true this statement is today.

Nigeria, as with most other nations, is faced with a socio-economic crisis of its own. The competence of the current leadership team is not in doubt. What we now need to do is encourage them to strive for excellence and exceed their predecessors in tackling the perennial problems of the nation and the current global economic challenges. The truth is, they are standing at the threshold of a new Nigeria. The onus is on us all to support and encourage them to put in their absolute best and cooperate in every way that we can, even as we re-write the history of Nigeria for good.


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