The Registrar, Institute of Supervision and Leadership, Dr. Funso Akinya, explains how to discover and groom leaders within an organisation in this interview with AGBOOLA AFEEZ

What are the attributes that most managers in organisations lack that often lead to their poor performance?

In some organisations, managers or some growing leaders normally have problems. Many don’t know how to lead. Many don’t know how to motivate people. In most organisations, when a junior member of staff has a good idea that can move the organisation forward, they will be ignored. In fact, in some cases when a junior worker brings an idea to a manager, he or she does not listen. Some of these managers don’t listen to issues raised by their followers. And in such organisations, once they become discouraged once or twice, they won’t be encouraged to come up with such ideas again. Many people are just there for the fact that they were promoted to a managerial position.

Many don’t have the vision of how to make success in that office. Some believe they just need to come to the office to do what they are supposed to do perfunctorily. And in such a situation, the problems will remain. Generally, all these things when they are rounded up, they are regarded as problem of complacency.

The boss will feel that because he is the boss, he will be complacent about what is going on, whereas you need to be focused and devise how the organisation will get to where it is supposed to be in the nearest future.

How can organisations identify people who fit managerial roles?

There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration. It is not just enough to employ somebody and then put him in an office. You need to actually do enough human resources assessment. One of it is to conduct appropriate interview to be able to select the best. In selecting the best person, it is not just a one-day affair. You may need to research and discover the right people.

In some cases, you may discover that some people within the organisation are supposed to aspire to  that position and again you may need to assist them. Find out if they have what is required to achieve the organisation’s goals. It doesn’t matter the number of years they have been working there. You need to know if they are part of the complacent people who are working, who don’t have a vision of where the organisation should be.

Again, you need to look at the creativity in them. You need to see if they are the kind of people who have focus. Because some people may come into an organisation newly, but as a result of their years of experience and what they have gone through in life in terms of education, self-development and empowerment, they may be able to do better than someone who may have been in the organisation for long. People within the organisation and outside the organisation need to be considered to be able to pick the best.

Considering the fact that we have people with different personalities, can everyone be a good leader?

No not all can be good managers or good leaders. What differentiates us is the leadership potential in each person. Future leaders must be able to discover themselves. I had an opportunity to present a paper to senior teachers in Lagos and the first thing I did was to give them a form to fill. These people are principals and senior teachers in selected secondary schools in Lagos State. I gave them about 50 questions to assess themselves.  At the end of the day, many of them scored themselves low. They thought they were actually leading and doing what they were supposed to do but the questions were able to bring out the kind of leadership they had in them. Few of them just managed to score the average mark.

As an individual, you really need to assess yourself, what are my areas of successes?  Develop yourself and discover the leadership that you have in you. Most importantly, begin to attend leadership training programmes.

What is the impact of poor leadership on an organisation?

Poor leadership can destroy an organisation unless something is quickly done. For example, when you have a situation of poor leadership in an organisation, it is calling for a re-engineering of the leadership process because once there is weak leadership, there will be weak motivation and everything will go very bad.

How can junior workers who are aspiring for leadership positions in their organisation work towards it?

The junior members of staff must first be good followers. They need to begin to look at people ahead of them and examine how they have been doing it well. When we see people who have achieved a lot for this country like Late Obafemi Awolowo, and Nnamdi Azikwe, we will want to shape ourselves in the way they have done in the past. In an organisation, if you have a very good managing director, you must begin to monitor them. There should be a process of mentoring, where leaders are understudied. That is not to say they should be emulated because in some cases, they may have done some things wrong.

Aspiring leaders must be able to present new ideas. The bosses should be able to monitor their followers. There must be good followership and good mentoring to produce good leaders.

Apart from mentoring, what other training can they engage in?

We always encourage organisations to try as much as possible to train their workers. It is not enough to recruit people and put them in an office, they should be trained regularly. I am very happy that the government is making it compulsory to train workers. The workers must be trainable; they must make themselves available for training.


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