Leading From the Middle!

Category: Leadership 15 0


While many prepare for positions, there’s a man in Nigeria, the originator of the change mantra, the demonstrator of positive transformation where least expected (Lagos); he focuses on leadership. I know many see leadership from the perspective of leading from the front or top but there are rare but challenging opportunities of leading from the middle. That is, you have leader(s) ahead of you and followers behind you. It is very challenging because it places more demand on the strength of the character to survive after succeeding in that assignment.

Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola was discovered by his benefactor, predecessor and he didn’t just survive, he made remarkable success as governor and the main reference point for the governorship campaigns of the whole region. As Executive Governor of the seat of commerce, it couldn’t have been easy to subject one’s decision to the approval of another entity; even Tinubu only became more popular by rebelling against the federal might and the rest is history.

I know many people have attributed many of Fashola’s successes to Tinubu but even Tinubu had 3 deputy governors in 8years and he impeached the second one (Mr. Femi Pedro) few weeks to the end of his second term. That is, for Fashola to have co-existed in the same Lagos with Tinubu serving as Overseer for 8 years, he deserves an award. Not that there were no frictions and tackles but they were well managed and he survived and succeeded.This kind of leadership is more challenging than leading from the top/front. You must be careful not to outshine your master, you must be result oriented and ignore who takes the glory, you must have great emotional intelligence (for your followers and leaders), you must avoid pettiness (that is the major assignment of the sycophants, the pigs. Lol) and you must remain humble.

Fashola demonstrated these attributes and when he was commended for the transformation of Lagos state, during the Senate screening, he said he would still attribute his successes to the efforts of his predecessor and he gave instance. When accused of contract inflation, he decided to manage the situation and not raise dust, which many of us wanted. In attempt to defend himself, he could easily cast aspersion on the integrity of the others, like it’s common in our polity but he just kept insisting on his innocence.

Great Leadership is the bigger picture and though many leaders assume wrongly that their followers will remain following forever, like fathers who keep seeing their sons as “my boy”. Fashola looked beyond the governorship, he developed capacity and character and I was so excited when they manifested in his celebrated performance at the Senate ministerial screening. Just a week earlier, pictures of Fashola reading in his car, surrounded by books, went viral on social media and I was not surprised at his performance because readers are leaders.

It is evidence that while many prepare for offices, Fashola prepares for leadership and I make bold to say he’s a 360 degree leader (multidimensional). He’s a typical case of when opportunity meets preparations; success is inevitable. No doubt, you must be persuaded that I am highly motivated by Fashola leadership because his kind is very rare in our politics, no, not even in the church leadership circles. I have TRIED to lead from the middle in the past and I know the challenges, including those of followers who will bypass you to pledge loyalty to the leader and leaders who want you to work but do not want you to succeed, lest you become popular.

Leading from the middle is like apprenticeship and it fortifies leadership capacity more than academic training.

Leadership Quote: Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit. – Dr. John C. Maxwell.

Good morning and blessed weekend to you all.

– Adeniyi Rotimi Johnson

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