Inner circle and the making of an effective leader


By Eze Amaeshi

Nicolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesman once noted that “the first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” This says a lot. A ruler or a leader must not think he is a compendium of knowledge and so goes about the task of his leadership alone or imposing himself on his subordinates. If he does that, he is certainly headed for a free fall.
The inner-circle are those individuals that are closest to the leader. In a family setting, a man’s (leader’s) inner circle could be his wife or son or even children. There are people he usually seeks their advice or opinion before taking major decisions. The quality of the man’s wife or children he seeks advice from matters a lot. In quality, I mean the character, intelligence, understanding and education of such members of a family matters a lot when it comes to the man of the house partnering with them in decision making. when the head of family thinks the people, who should have been is inner circle are deficient in the above-named qualities, he often seeks such opinion or advice from outside his family. A wife also would love her husband to be her closest friend or inner circle. But if for one reason for another the member falls short of her expectation or is not available, the tendency is that she often seeks such advice or opinion from outside her immediate family. A growing child also needs her parents as members of her inner circle to direct, guide and advise her as she grows up in preparation to face the larger world. It is when a child fails to get that quality leadership from her parents or guardians that she resorts to friends outside and the consequence is that she gets moulded by friends and others in the outside world. In other words, she falls under the influence of associates. We often say, “show me the friends you have and I will tell you who you are”. Even when an individual is single-not married-he often also has an inner circle or close friend(s) that he discusses things with and often seeks their advice and opinion before taking major decisions. Everybody needs an inner circle to function effectively in our challenging world. No one knows it all as none is imbued with all the capabilities to excel in life. However, who make up members of our inner circle matters a great deal.
In statecraft, this cannot be over emphasized. A leader’s effectiveness is mostly defined by the character and competence of his inner circle. If he is an intelligent leader, the person at the helm of affairs must not allow selfish and other mundane considerations to influence his choice of his inner circle. Because the leader is ultimately expected to deliver results, he should seek out credible men and women to work with him so as to achieve needed results. This is why Machiavelli insisted that a look at the men and women around a leader gives us a clue into the level of intelligence of a leader. Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motors Corporation, was not a formerly educated man in the sense we have it today. But it is said that he surrounded himself with highly capable men who performed all tasks assigned to them very creditably.
Henry Ford was reputed to have answer to virtually all questions of life, not that he had them personally, but he equipped himself with high quality men and women who could give him all answers he was in need of.
It is not enough to surround yourself with very qualitative people as assistants when you are an arrogant, prideful leader with feelings of insecurity. Arrogance, pride, feelings of insecurity often cause a leader not to seek other people’s advice or opinion on issues. These debilitating emotions are also behind a leader rejecting advice when they are innocently given. And these have their root in the “super root” of fear. The intelligent leader gives out his power freely! He is not afraid of giving credit to any of his subordinate who deserves it. The insecure leader hordes credit to others. He feels he might lose his position or that attention of admirers might shift to another person. He wants to be the centre of all admirations, even if it costs poor results. It is when poor results are obtained that the insecure leader rises up to apportion blames on others. However, every leader should learn to use the word, “we”, in his activities. Everything rises and falls on leadership.
When you apply this principle to the situation we have in Nigeria, you will understand why successive administrations have failed to deliver the results expected of them at the federal, state and LGA levels. We have, over the years, had leaders of low intelligence who have always put selfish, political and other mundane considerations ahead of results delivery for the larger society. These Nigerian leaders have unabatedly regarded political and leadership positions as conquests and not a trust! This informs their behaviours while in office. For example, former Governor Rochas Okorocha, while he hailed sway, had regarded his position as his conquest of Imo State. That is why he gave no qualms in using his state governorship as a private property to enrich his family members, position family members in various institutions in the state and operated like a feudal lord, doing whatever he wanted with the state’s funds.
Even today, the activities of president Buhari in ensuring Fulani supremacy in Nigeria and surrounding himself with his tribesmen tells the world how intelligent he is. His fear of Ndigbo that has led to his exclusion of the tribe-irrespective of the doctrine of federal character shows how unsecured he is.
In Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma should prove to the world that he is an intelligent leader by surrounding himself with credible people instead of political cronies and professional politicians who have virtually nothing to show. whatever your level in the society, wherever you are, prove yourself an intelligent leader by surrounding yourself with credible people.


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