March 05, 2011

Where are Leaders Made?

The theories that are represented in the literature focus on the traits of a leader and what leadership is as it is naturally obtained traits to be explained. there is a debate about whether leadership can be obtained by leadership courses in the universities. 

Jimon Ibrahim a businessman and the chair of Nicon group in Barrister claims in a speach to Saturday Tribune  that there is a lack of leaders in Nigeria business environment because there are no leadership courses in the Nigerian universities. all the existing leaders have become leaders in their companies after they have gained experience.

The previous creates some confusion. why could not any of Nicon's experienced individuals become an effective leader in the eyes of the CEO? is this really about education? or about the company's culture? or both of them?


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  1. Great blog and arises a really good question…...................

    In my view when you bevelop a sklill only through experience it is not enough. The problem is that experience comes from a system that it is not operate well. So what is the point to learn something from a destroyed system? You just make the things worse or become part of it. When theory is missing the cycle of theory (Theory of Knowledge SoPK) is incopmlete. . . . . . So while it is important to have practical experience always you should be guided by theory. . . .. . . No matter well you do something in the system if you do not have the ability to see the alternative there is little hope to change and improve anything. . . . .

    improvement and change comes from ideas applied to practce. . . This is the problem that we will face out there. How we can persuade the leaders that learnt from a idiot system that there can be an other way…....... It is really a challenge but i think at the end of the day we will be capable of facing it. . . . . . . . . .

    06 Mar 2011, 15:48

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    you have made some assumption that are interesting. the first is that the system does not operate well or even “destroyed”. apart from being a generalisation, the definition of “well” is relevant. the second is if somebody without a theoretical background worked in a lets call it ‘not developed system ’ they will make it worse or they become part of it. there are many examples for people who never went to leadership courses or even some are not educated in universities and were the reason for the creation of many leadership theories; you can see those in politics, social domains and business.
    the third assumption is you have to be guided by a theory. in this sense, while I agree on the importance of the theoretical knowledge, I think it is dangerous to rigidly stick to it . do you believe that the existed theories are the solution for all the challenges?

    lastly, I am interested in knowing your perspective of an “idiot” system. and why do people become part of it?

    06 Mar 2011, 22:32

  3. Interesting enough your answer…................................ Thank you for that dialogue.

    Yes i strongly believe that is something really wrong witht the system. Really do you believe that fairness and democracy prevail? Or that everyone has the same oportunities? Or that we respect the environment and the people. . . . I know that there are people that try to do all that but geenerally i do see the system caring about it.
    Also i strongly believe if you do not think out of the box or else see the system from outside you cannot understand it. So yes i strongly believe that when someone do his best without being guided by theory he-she just making things worse. . . . . I may quote in that stage Deming’s answer to a seminar:
    Question : Please elaborate on your statement that profound knowledge comes from outside the system. Aren’t the people in the system the only ones that know what is happening, and why?
    Answer: The people that work in any organizaiton know what they are doing but they will not by themselves learn a better way. Their best efforts and hard work only dig deeper the pit that they are working in. Their best efforts and hard work do not provide an outside view on the organization.

    So if you do not think outside the system and ask why this happen or why this should be like this you cannot have improvement. .. . . . .
    Regarding leaders that have never being to universities i may say that i do not believe that the most of the universities provide knowledge. . . . .Really i do not think so. There are a few of them that really offer something important.. . . .

    The system is idiot. Just think the perspective of CSR. Some people that have learned under that system that extrinsic awards are the most important have destroyed the forest in order to make money. But the system didn’t tell them that you may make money now but in 50-100 years you will out of breath. Short term thinking and the need of making money is something that this idiot system teach us.. . .. . . . . . .
    So if we accept all that we become part of the system. We may tomorrow destroy the forests for making money. This is what i mean. . . . .

    A strongly believe that theory without practice do not affect anyone. It is just an utopia. On the contrary, practice without theory can be devastating. . . . . Also i remind you i do not consider theory what schools and even universities provide. . . For example i have never taught philosophy. . . Why not? In my opinion philosophy has to be part of education even from high schools. Definitely in universities. But i haven’t taught it. Have you? I personally search about it.

    I really would like to hear you opinion regarding how you consider the system!

    Again thank you for that challenging dialogue.

    06 Mar 2011, 22:55

  4. Clarification:

    Regarding the universities of course i do not know every one but i was looking to find one for my postgraduate that will include philosophy like MBE does. . . . . I really haven’t found. . . . . . . . If you know anyone i am very happy to know….........

    06 Mar 2011, 22:57

  5. thanks,

    first, Looking from outside, as I understand it, means looking strategically and watching the activities and processes without being involved in them. this, in my opinion does not mean that the person who is looking strategically has to have theories or is not part of the process. any person from inside the process who has criticality and strategic analytical skills can step back and watch.

    with my respect to what Deming said, I think it has to do with the organisational culture. I am not sure when was his statement made but I would argue that some internal people would step back and look from the outside. whether the culture supports this kind of behaviour/activity or not is what makes a difference.

    regarding the stupid system and your example about the forests, I do not think that the system is stupid. and I think that the system has told people that forests will be destroyed in 50-100 years. I believe that systems tells but does not teach. people teach what a system tells. and recipients are responsible for liking the idea or refusing it.

    a good system, according to you, is that which tells people to save trees rather than making money. I think that we have such systems now. and people find it difficult to follow.

    there is a phrase from psychology says that self interest is the highest interest. people will follow a ‘good system’ only when they are convinced that this system serves their interest more or at least does not damage their current interest. which would contradict your definition of a ‘good system’.

    10 Mar 2011, 00:28

  6. My friend this a real good discussion and we may continue it face to face….................................................. Today we will meet so it is a great oportunity

    10 Mar 2011, 09:12

  7. My pleasure to continue it any time.

    11 Mar 2011, 03:06


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