DON’T DESPISE YOUR GATEMAN
On 11th January this year, being Monday, I took to Government Secondary School Area 10 Abuja to have my usual study and engage in deep thinking. After spending hours and was leaving, coincidentally I met a friend, a woman teacher who facilitated our leadership programme at the school 2 years ago and currently the vice principal of the school. We enjoyed some warmed greetings and cheers as we considered having leadership training for their school prefects as schools reopen.
As I approached the school gate, in my usual manner, I greeted the gateman (private security personnel), he responded and added “excuse Sir”. I pulsed. “I don’t know your name”, he said. “I am *Chukwu Michael Chukwu, but conveniently call me CMC’’,* I responded. And he said, “I Observed you are a researcher?” I said yes, “I am a leadership coach”. “That’s good”, he replied. Please I want to ask you a question. “Go ahead”, I said. He began this way, “we have new principal in this school, posted from another school and I personally want him to succeed more than the one that just left. If he succeeds, it will be for the good of everyone and the school. As a leadership coach, what does he need to do to perform excellent, especially coming from another school and does not understand the new environment?”
“He needs to make them friends and be their friend”, I replied. “Is it possible to be a friend to everyone” he asked me. “That’s why he’s a leader” I answered him. “So, how can he do that?” He asked. I replied him
“He needs to do 4 things.
He should observe the people he’s about to lead, observe their attitudes, their actions & reactions, their response to duties, style of work and execution of assignments and their relationship with each other. In doing so, he gets to know them more and understand them individually.
Secondly, as a new leader, he should ask questions. Asking questions will enable him understand the workings in the new environment; unlock and open doors otherwise would have remained closed. It’s also the most effective means of connecting with people he’s about to lead, and also present him a humble person before the people. Asking questions will help him engage his people in conversation, build better ideas and expose him to different perspectives.
Thirdly, He should have a good listening attitude, paying attention without interruption. When you listen to people, it demonstrates that you value them, gives you a high influence value on them and leads to learning.
Lastly, He should see himself as a learner. He should have this attitude that;
Everyone can teach me something.
Every day I must learn something new.
Every time I learn something, I benefit.
At this stage, the Gateman took a deep breath and said, “I learn something great today. I wish my principal is here now to learn this”.
He went further to ask, “After doing these 4 things you have explained, what he should do next?”
You know what I have explained to you is just a foundation of leadership. And you know good foundation is very critical if you must build a solid house. Once a foundation is properly laid, raising the building becomes easy. I hope you know you don’t destroy the foundation of a house you are building because once there’s a problem with the foundation, the whole building will have problem. The same is applicable to leadership. You don’t destroy its foundation after you have laid it. If you destroy the foundation of leadership you’ve laid, your leadership will be in trouble. That means you should continue building up on what I have earlier explained to you.
Now, to build on this foundation, which is another level of leadership, He needs to adopt *4 SKILLS & STRATEGIES.* The Skills are:
“No, I can’t miss part of this teaching, let me get exercise book so I can share with the principal and others” said the man.
“Sir, how should one apply these skills?” asked the man.
I answered, “This is a time you cast vision and set goals. You don’t give people vision, you cast vision. It’s through CONSULTATION you share your vision as a leader and the people share their ideas with you and see the vision as their own because you have given them sense of belonging by consulting them.
Secondly, when the people are consulted, that makes them accept you into their hearts and minds and you gain their CONSENSUS, that’s unity of minds and acceptance. As you gain their CONSENSUS, they come to trust you, believe in you and by such, you gain their COOPERATION.
After you have applied these 3 skills, you can now successfully issue them COMMAND to take action.
Summarily, consult the people, seek their consensus and cooperation, and finally issue them command for execution of the plans and the goals you have set. By doing so, you will begin to see results, and your leadership will start shaping. This is the process that leadership takes especially in a place you are newly appointed a leader”.
“Oga, how old are you?” asked the Gateman. “Imaging what you have taught me today and I know I am many years older than you. These leaders in the country need your teaching. I am not sure they know all these things. May God give you more wisdom.”
“Amen!” I answered.
“I should find a way to share some of these things with the new principal. I want him succeed and make this school great”.
The gate man ended his statement with, “God will lift you and you will go places”.
“Thank you Sir”, I responded.
A man who drove in while our conversation was going on was astonished at the teaching and was greatly inspired.
Let me conclude with this;
The man in this scenario is a mere gateman, yet very passionate to see the new principal succeeds and does great. He is not selfish. He has a broad minded person, and feels concern about other’s success. Another thing that drew my attention was a gift giving to him by a woman as he saw me off to gate. Within me, I realized truly he’s a good man.
DON’T DESPISE YOUR GATEMAN OR ANYONE YOU THINK HAS LESSER RESPONSIBILITY OR AT A LOW LEVEL. HE MAY BE THE ONE PRAYING OR WISHING YOU A GREATER SUCCESS. HE MAY BE THE ONE WHO CAN GIVE YOU IDEAS, INFORMATION, OR HAS A SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS.
Still Your Friend,
CHUKWU MICHAEL CHUKWU,
Leadership Developer and Capacity Builder.