Lessons from General Joseph Franklin’s ‘BUILDING LEADERS THE WEST POINT WAY’

Gen Franklin’s book provides an expose on how one of America’s leading military institutes raises leaders. Leadership to me is the ability to influence and inspire  others to achieve a worthwhile goal.  Going  through this book,l discovered a number of lessons applicable not just to the military,but also to family life,to career, to business and to national development.A few of the lessons are as follows:

1.You do not need to be beautiful or handsome to be a good leader,but you do need dedication to your mission and a strong belief in what you are doing. Consider the contradiction in many african and third world countries (Nigeria inclusive)where people find themselves in position of leadership,especially political leadership and at the end of the day their stay in office is nothing but a waste of  both time and national resources all because they are either ignorant of their mission and the requirements of their office or because they just refuse to be dedicated.This is the sad story of  political leadership in Africa.

2.Things are managed ;people are led. The effective leader knows the people he/she leads have feelings,they come from families and they would really like it if they are part of the decision-making process.The good leader does not go about treating people as if they are inventory in a factory warehouse or items in a super market shelf. Making the transition from manager to leader involves a significant amount of  adaptability.According to General Franklin,adaptability is a principle any aspiring leader should eagerly embrace because leadership by its very nature involves guiding people across an ever-changing landscape.

3.Because everything is subject to change, the good leader requires vision.”Vision is the most important and challenging principle of leadership,for it  demands that a leader continue to create an environment in which subordinates can function at a high level ,performing all of the tasks required of an organization while simultaneously preparing for the changes that will inevitably occur.” For a leader to close his mind to the problems of the future because his energy is directed at the burden of surviving today is tantamount to dicing with extinction and failure.

4.Good leaders and leadership remove uncertainty;this is why people follow them.You cannot successfully remove uncertainty as a leader if you lack confidence.Three types of confidence are essential to leadership.One,the confidence required to give advice and issue instructions when faced with unknowns and the unknowable.Second, being confident  and comfortable enough with yourself  that you can ask for advice from others.The third confidence is being able to depend on subordinates, to delegate authority and stand back to let them do the job.

5.“Choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong” is the cadets prayer that defines honour.Honourable conduct is the hallmark of a good and effective leader.Lives and families have being shattered,businesses destroyed, and nations have been held hostage all because of the dishonourable conduct of those individuals that were in leadership at the various times these events occurred.For example, the fuel subsidy scam,police pensions scam, and power project scam in Nigeria were all as a result of individuals choosing the easier wrong above the harder right.

No group or society can rise above its leadership;to make progress, societies must rise up against mediocre occupiers of offices and insist on good leadership,and not just good governance.

The first perso…

The first person  l heard the word leader/leadership from was my father.I was just 6 years old at the time,and I remember he would sit me by his side to chat me up on leadership.My father consistently reminded me “…not to spoil his name”.At the time he kept using phrases like “self disciple”,”selfless service” and “a good name”.This was 37 years ago.Now,considering the state of our societies,at what age would teachings and a knowledge of leadership have benefited political office holders?

l would like to have your views.