BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND FOLLOWERSHIP
There's an adage that a leader gets the kind of followership it deserves. Thus leadership and followership, nay associateship, have always been the challenge of good governance in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
In 93 stimulating pages, Pastor Steve Akoni, in his book, Lean On Me, provides readers with new perspectives on associate leadership, particularly from the Christian viewpoint. Lean On Me is a dedication to every leader who assists great visionaries in achieving their God given dreams.
In 16 chapters, the author gives insight on associate leadership with chapter one dwelling on In The Beginning. The author maintains that 'man is designed in such a way that there is no single person that possesses all that he needs, hence the basis for connection with other people. Dr. Mike Murdock says, 'We are created for connection not for isolation'.
Without attempting to define who is a Lean On, the authors asserts that names, titles and designations add flavour to life, and that they present the same things or persons in different perspectives even while they perform the same basic functions. In the same vein, remarkable and outstanding deputies in different establishments perform the same empirical functions of assisting visionaries in achieving their goals, which have been structured into corporate organizational objectives. And they carry out different designations such as advisers, servant leaders, deputy ministers, associate pastors, vice presidents, assistants, strategists, pointmen etc.
The book further amplified by saying that Lean On Me is useful to great leaders, adding that 'they are people whom leaders can always count on. ' Lean On's are the vanguard of service to top leadership,' explains the author .
Why The Need for Learning? is the poser in Chapter Two. 'A visionary or leader irrespective of his great foresight and potentials needs to lean on someone or a group of people for some or all of these reasons namely: To lighten workload, For support, Lighten blind spots, supplementary skills, counsel, respite and posterity'. The author affirms that the fact that God gives a man a vision that will be fulfilled beyond his life-time presupposes that a legacy must be passed on to the next generation.
Your Shoulders, Please, is the injunction in Chapter Three. Here, the author stresses that languages differ, hence the manner of verbal communication for a child is different from that of an adult. Even adults have different manners of communication… So also is communication by leaders, especially when the need for a dependable associate arises.
In Chapter Four, the author discusses Mutual Need. He states that associates need great leaders that would lean on them before they attain fulfillment in life, adding that the first woman Lean On that God created would have been frustrated without a man because she would have been incomplete.
The readers encounter the Benefits of Being A Lean On in Chapter Five. According to Pastor Steve Akoni, seven benefits are available to whoever allows himself to be leaned upon. These include: Opportunities, increased authority, Access to important information, confidence, succession, increased productivity and exposure, golden bridges etc. The author warns that Lean On's need to be careful about what they speak into their leaders' ears, adding that it is a privileged position that gives opportunities to decide the fate of other men.
In Chapter Six, the reader learns about how to become a Lean On. These according to the author can be accessed by developing certain qualities, such as Excellence, Leadership, Consistency, Skills, Superior performance, personal conduct, character, the Holy Spirit, Diligence among others.
The book also explains that great achievers essentially avoid associates who cause them grief, adding that no one pursues pain. In Chapter Nine entitled Do Not Rock the Boat the author captures ill-feeling and pain instincts which all living creatures move away from, pointing out that once a leader selects an associate, he expects him or her not cause him grief, especially when he is not within reach, no matter the assignments.
The next chapter exposes Lean On Me as Choice Leaders, and why Kings not only need people who are reliable around them, but also select leaders who are closest to them, because the quality of one's leadership has direct relationship with the quality of people around one. Here, the author reels out the names of some Biblical Lean On generals, including Joseph, Aaron, Ahithophel, Daniel and Elisha.
In Chapter 11, the author urges readers to keep your head above the water. Speaking proverbially, the author tells his readers, 'You need to stick your neck out of the water to see ahead and maintain your focus. In other words, one may lose direction while in motion. Since not all activities result in performance and movement does not always result in progress.'
Chapter 12 discusses A Test of Strength with exposes on the vagaries and vicissitudes of life. The author highlights the necessity of configuration of the environment in which people thrive or find our selves. According to the author, 'it is wise that we programme themselves beyond our immediate environment by learning the principles that govern life and not just seek promotion within an organization. Such principles strengthen us to withstand adversity'.
The next chapter emphasizes the need to Maintain the Chain! Here the author states that every leader must have something to pass on to the people he leads, noting out that a leader's lasting value is measured by succession.
According to the book. 'Every Lean On who has been privileged to move up in leadership has the responsibility to grow other Lean On's. Growth should not end with you, it states.
Chapter 14 is about the author's approach on the best way to withdraw one's shoulder gently. We are told that the leader you are serving today also served someone before his current work hence, as you serve too, there is need to disengage from him and withdraw your service. The book acknowledges that 'for some reasons, some Lean On's don't find their disengagement process easy, due to some emotional ties, which sometimes result in pains when it is time to sever them.
Another factor that makes the book a compelling read is Chapter 15, which discusses parable of the tree. Here, the author states that it is part of natural design for trees to need branches hence it is the branches that carry the flowers and the fruits. Apparently, flowers and the fruits give expression to the beauty of the tree.
The lesson here is that leaders nurse the fear of raising others to succeed them should learn that they cannot go the entire length alone, if your dream must taste posterity'.
Chapter 16 rounds off the story of Pastor Steve Akoni on Lean On Me. Meanwhile, the author succeeds in educating the reader that being a Lean On is both exciting and challenging. It is an awesome responsibility that can open up doors of tremendous opportunities and relationships. Also, Lean On Me is a little or no typographical errors that characterize most literary works today. The book is a blueprint for every deputy, assistant, associate, point man and arrow head who helps great visionaries in achieving corporate goals and God-given dreams of good governance.