About twenty years ago or slightly less than that, I was on my way back to Abuja, Nigeria from the United Kingdom, I branched into a bustling books’ Store right inside the duty free complex inside the imposing terminal five of Heathrow Airport in London.
I looked through their colourfully packed book shelves with diverse titles and genres.
Immediately, I saw series of books on leadership, kindness and compassion.
My eyes also caught some books that talked about how workforce motivation sparks off high productivity in companies and institutions.
These book, twelve in number, were so captivating and appealing.
Luck smiled on me that I had some money left with me that saw me amass this rich collection of books. I have read these books over and over and I can say that they have inspired me a whole lot.
As someone looked upon by some persons as a leader in the civil society community in Nigeria, I have had the honour of adapting some of the motivational methodologies theorized in those copies I bought off the shelve in the London Airport I spoke about, and I can attest to the fact that I found satisfaction in putting those skills into practice and to report that in my organization, even when we were going through cash famines, most of these motivational guides have had to come in handy to enable us navigate through the minefield of operational challenges to the admiration of friends and foes alike.
I say the above, making use of the numerous calls we get all the times from abroad and locally, from persons who are happy about our outputs.
To my shock, only last week, one of the governors of the South East, who we have had a lot to say about some of his governance failures, called us to thank us for criticizing some of his failings which he said helped to reshape his outlook to leadership.
Two Iconic persons motivated the theme of this reflection and these persons are the immediate past Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd)and the Director General of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim (PH.D).
Both are some of the finest and motivational public officers that the current President, Muhammadu Buhari graciously discovered and positively unleashed on the Nigerian public service space and from empirical evidence, their levels of productivity are some of the best and most precious especially in the area of making use of motivation of the work force to draw out excellent productivity from their staff.
The man heading the NYSC is a young officer who has spent barely a year on seat. However, his outputs, assisted by a star studded management team, has been phenomenal to put it mildly.
He is on a steady clean up exercise in the NYSC to sanitize the entry procedure hitherto in use but which were found to harbour certain loose ends.
Before dwelling extensively on some of the exemplary conducts of the aforementioned thoroughly trained professional soldiers who were found very worthy and meritorious to serve Nigeria in their different capacities, I will say more facts about kindness, compassion and motivation as leadership skills extensively dwelt on by of those British born authors I had spoken about.
The British press reported that like mindfulness before it, kindness has become the buzz word of 2018 as people are realising, that for a harmonious world, all we really need to do is be kind to one another, so wrote Laura Hampson in the London Standard of June 28th 2018.
The columnist wrote that in 2017, The Guardian wrote an article on the cult of kindness and how, amid all the dark and heavy news we are presented with each day, there is a ‘yearning’ for good news. News about kind things people have done for others.
Thus, the kindness ‘trend’ was born. The article also states that the difference between happiness and kindness is the former is passive while the latter is active. Being kind to someone is something you choose to do every day. Happiness is an emotion you voluntarily (or involuntarily) feel.
Kindness and mindfulness are intrinsically linked, to be truly mindful you also need to practice being kind. So it’s no wonder the idea of mindfulness has evolved to encompass actively practising kindness also.
Like many ideas of their time, this trend has infiltrated literature. Below are seven of the best books about kindness also. 1. Kindness: The Little Thing that Matters Most by Jamie Thurston. This book touches on 52 simple things you can do to spread kindnes, from being a seat vigilante to being kind to unkind people. 2. Dare to Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion Can Transform Our World by Lizzie Velasquez
In this book, we read that Lizzie Velasquez was born with a rare genetic condition and her book is about the path to self-acceptance, tolerance, love and forging a compassionate world. It’s even been endorsed by Michelle Obama so you know it’s good. 3. Kindness: Change your life and make the world a kinder place by Gill Hasson.
The author, Gill Hasson delivers a more practical guide for how to be kind, including how to recognise kindness all around you and identifying opportunities to be kind to others.4. The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp which is described as this feel-good novel which logically follows protagonist Ceri Price as she arrives in Dwynwen in West Wales. Intending to stay just two nights, she ends up staying a year to help the town rebrand itself; The Little Book of Kindness by Bernadette Russell.
Author Bernadette Russel pledged to be kind to a stranger every day for a year, in this book she documents what she learnt and offers suggestions to help readers practice being kind; Kindfulness by Padraig O’Morain.
Written by psychotherapist Padraig O’Morain, who has also penned a non-fiction book on mindfulness, this guide will help you dispel negativity in your life and show you how everyone can benefit from ‘kindfulness’.
Specifically, Brian Tracy writing on June 29th 2019 in a piece published in www.amanet.org told us that there are four factors of motivation that exist in every organization or business. These factors determine the levels of motivation of the staff, whether positive or negative. Fortunately, each of these ingredients can be changed in a positive way—usually when a manager or supervisor replaces a leader whose management style has not been conducive to bringing out the very best in each person.
The writer affirmed that the Basics and asked thus: Which Factors Affect Motivation?
The author then responded by stating we will begin with the four factors that are the basics of motivating anyone, in any organization. These four factors are; 1. leadership style,; 2. the reward system; 3. the organizational climate and 4. the structure of the work.
On the Impact of Leadership on Motivation the author says that this is a key factor in determining how people feel about the company and how motivated they are. When a company undergoes leadership changes the psychological climate of the company is altered and in turn, the whole employee performance improves.
The appropriate leadership style depends on the goals and objectives of the organization, the people within the company, and the external environment, the author argues. Your leadership style should be one that focuses on the long-term success of your company, as described by Dr. William Schulz III in his article “Leadership for Long-Term Success”
In a SWAT team or a fire department, the appropriate style would be more directed and dictatorial, with the person in charge telling people what to do quickly with little concern for personal sensitivities. This style can also be found among entrepreneurial organizations, many of which are struggling for their very survival. In most cases, however, traditional to-down leadership style is no longer acceptable in today’s breed of employees, who expect to be able to speak out, be heard, and have a clear influence on how they do the work.
Different strokes for different folks. A second leadership style is collegial, where one person may be in charge of a department but functions at the same level and with the same knowledge and skill as his co-workers. In this type of organization, people are respected for their knowledge, skill, and ability to do the job.
By way of dissecting the core thematic issue in this reflection, I will say that the man at the helm of affairs at the NYSC has deployed the leadership skill of work force motivation to stimulate productivity amongst the participants of the NYSC Scheme who are very young minds and the management team of that institution that was put together by General Yakubu Gowon soon after the fratricidal Civil war to thoroughly bring about reintegration of young people from the divergent communities and ethnicities.
With more efforts and institutional support, I can see the NYSC succeeding in churning out a bunch of forward looking youngsters rich in life surviving skills that are trained in a very highly motivated environment made conducive by the current hierarchy of the NYSC.
The Director General of NYSC is known to have celebrated and mourned with his youngsters doing their mandatory one year National Service and he has on many occasions provided emotional and psychological succour to NYSC participants who are in hospital beds.
This is called leadership by example.
The Director General of the National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim is in the news today for commiserating with the Corps member Saidu Mohammed Adamu (EK/20B/1251) who sustained injuries from gunshot during the last bye-election held last Saturday in Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti state.
Speaking when he visited the Corps member at Federal Teaching Hospital Ido-Ekiti on Tuesday, 23rd March, 2021, the NYSC Chief Executive Officer prayed God to grant him and other patients at the health facility quick recovery.
He commended the Corps member and his colleagues who took part in the conduct of the election as adhoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission for their patriotism in the service of the country. He particularly encouraged the injured Corp member to keep the patriotic zeal in him, and never be deterred by the activities of criminal elements who disrupted the election at his polling unit.
He also appreciated the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Professor Kunle Ajayi and his medical team for ensuring that the Corps member received good treatment in good time.
Brigadier General Ibrahim equally used the occasion to immersely thank the governor of Ekiti state for footing the bill of the Corps member’s treatment, and called on all Nigerians to see Corps members deployed to serve in their communities as their own children. Corps members are apolitical and neutral and must be protected by all and sundry.
The Chief Medical Director who led the NYSC boss the the Corps member’s bedside assured that the Corps member is in a stable condition, adding that his team will continue to give him the best attention possible to ensure his complete recovery.
The Director General was accompanied to the hospital by the Director NYSC South-West Area Office, Mr. Emmanuel Danjuma Attah and the NYSC Ekiti State Coordinator, Mrs. Mary Chikezie.
Perhaps, one public office holder that had utilized his tenure of office to touch lives of his men and officers is the immediate past Chief of Army Staff.
During his very fulfilling and eventful tenure spanning over five years, he spent Christmas, Easter and Sallah festivities right in the theatres of war with combatants.
On one of those occasions, he very nearly paid the Supreme price as he came face to face with the armed TERROR GANGSTERS of Boko haram terrorists.
He led his troops to overcome the surprise attack of the non state actors.
The former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, on Tuesday, January 11th 2021 visited the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, where he checked on soldiers wounded in Operations LAFIYA DOLE and SAHEL SANITY.
He also inspected some on-going projects and commissioned completed projects at the barracks.
The then Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sagir Musa said the visit was primarily to see troops of Operations LAFIYA DOLE and SAHEL SANITY wounded in action who are currently receiving treatment at the hospital.
“It is also a working visit to see comprehensive upgrade of facilities at 44 Reference Hospital Kaduna.
“The COAS specifically came to see patients of Operation Lafiya Dole and Operation Sahel Sanity recuperating at the hospital,” he added.
The media reports that about 416 wounded soldiers injured in the on-going fight against insurgency in Borno State are currently being treated at the 44 Nigerian Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna.
The then Army Chief of staff lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai made it a point of duty to visit wounded soldiers on the hospital beds in Yobe, Kaduna, Plateau and several other States where military’s medical facilities are located.
He spent quality times celebrating Christmas, Easter and Sallah festivities.
At those times he was seen in the media personally serving his troops and actually participating in the feasting as was been done by the combatants and the field commanders.
One of those solemn occasions reminded us of the Washing of the feet of the disciples as was done in the Biblical era which demonstrated humility and selfless service.
These things may appear so simple but one clear fact is that humility is a scarce commodity amongst top echelons of government and institutions in Nigeria.
These things go a long way to motivate the workforce and to stimulate renewed passion and zeal on the part of the subordinates to be at their best all of the time.
No doubt, the new Chief of Army Staff who took over from Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has started on a good note by also visiting his troops in the front lines of battles and has been seen motivating the soldiers through powerful speeches which seems to have started working and yielding tremendous outcomes.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and [email protected] theingerianinsidernews.com, www.huriwanigeria.com.