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The Imperatives Of Leadership (Part 2), By Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, Ph.D


THE inaugural edition of this series was necessarily foundational as it set the stage for what is to follow. We started by defining ‘leadership’. We, then, focus on two particular types of leadership: transformational leadership and transactional leadership. We commenced a discussion of the former, including it’s weaknesses. This will be concluded in today’s edition, after which we shall move onto transactional leadership. Thereafter, we shall examine the qualities of a good leader and conclude by posing the question: ‘Whither leadership in Nigeria?’ Enjoy.



 Fourthly, Yukl identified omission of several transformational behaviour from the original transformational leadership theory which empirical evidence has shown to be relevant. Some of them include inspiring (infusing the work with meaning), developing (enhancing follower skills and self confidence), and empowering (providing significant voice and discretion to followers).

Fifth is the insufficient specification of situational variables in Transformational leadership. A fundamental assumption of transformational leadership theory is that the underlying leadership processes and outcomes are essentially the same in all situations. Bass (1998) had suggested that transformational leadership is beneficial to both followers and organisations regardless of the situation. Studies have shown that situational factors can influence the effects of transformational leadership on followers and work outcomes. Yukl suggested the following situational variables as moderators between transformational leadership and followership: stability of environment, organic structure (rather than a mechanistic bureaucracy), an entrepreneurial culture, and dominance of boundary-spanning units over the technical core.

Sixthly, the theory does not explicitly identify any situation where transformational leadership is detrimental. Several studies have shown that transformational leadership can have detrimental effects on both followers and the organisation. Stevens et al (1995) believes that transformational leadership is biased in favour of top managements, owners and managers. Followers can be transformed to such a high level of emotional involvement in the work over time that they become stressed and burned out. Individual leaders can exploit followers (even without realising it) by creating a high level of emotional involvement when it is not necessary.  If members of an organisation are influenced by different leaders with competing visions, the result will be increased role ambiguity and role conflict. Leaders who build strong identification with their subunit and its objectives can improve member motivation, but excessive competition may arise among different subunits of the organisation. When inter unit cooperation is necessary to achieve organisational objectives, the result can be a decline in organisational effectiveness. The possibility that transformational leadership has negative outcomes needs to be investigated with research methods designed to detect such effects.

Lastly, like most leadership theories, transformational leadership theory assumes the heroic leadership stereotype. Effective performance by an individual, group, or organization is assumed to depend on leadership by an individual with the skills to find the right path and motivate others to take it. In most versions of transformational leadership theory, it is a basic postulate that an effective leader will influence followers to make self-sacrifices and exert exceptional effort. Influence is unidirectional, and it flows from the leader to the follower. When a correlation is found between transformational leadership and subordinate commitment or performance, the results are interpreted as showing that the leader influenced subordinates to perform better. There is little interest in describing reciprocal influence processes or shared leadership.

Researchers study how leaders motivate followers or overcome their resistance, not how leaders encourage followers to challenge the leader’s vision or develop a better one. In spite of the numerous criticisms of transformational leadership, its popularity has grown in recent time. For instance, studies have shown that managers in different settings, including the military and business found that transformational leaders were evaluated as more effective, higher performers, more promotable than their transactional counterparts, and more interpersonally sensitive. Empirical evidence also shows that transformational leadership is strongly correlated with employee work outcomes such as: lower turnover rates, higher level of productivity, employee satisfaction, creativity, goal attainment and follower well-being.


 Transactional Leadership, also known as managerial leadership, focuses on the role of supervision, organisation, and group performance; transactional leadership is a style of leadership in which the leader promotes compliance of his followers through both rewards and punishments. Unlike Transformational leadership, leaders using the transactional approach are not looking to change the future, they are looking to merely keep things the same. These leaders pay attention to followers’ work in order to find faults and deviations. This type of leadership is effective in crisis and emergency situations, as well as when projects need to be carried out in a specific fashion.

Within the context of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, transactional leadership works at the basic levels of need satisfaction, where transactional leaders focus on the lower levels of the hierarchy. Transactional leaders use an exchange model, with rewards being given for good work or positive outcomes. Conversely, people with this leadership style also can punish poor work or negative outcomes, until the problem is corrected. One way that transactional leadership focuses on lower level needs is by stressing specific task performance. Transactional leaders are effective in getting specific tasks completed by managing each portion individually.

Transactional leaders are concerned with processes rather than forward-thinking ideas. These types of leaders focus on contingent reward (also known as contingent positive reinforcement) or contingent penalization (also known as contingent negative reinforcement). Contingent rewards (such as praise) are given when the set goals are accomplished on-time, ahead of time, or to keep subordinates working at a good pace at different times throughout completion. Contingent punishments (such as suspensions) are given when performance quality or quantity falls below production standards or goals and tasks are not met at all. Often, contingent punishments are handed down on a management-by-exception basis, in which the exception is something going wrong. Within management-by-exception, there are active and passive routes. Active management-by-exception means that the leader continually looks at each subordinate’s performance and makes changes to the subordinate’s work to make corrections throughout the process. Passive management-by-exception leaders wait for issues to come up before fixing the problems. With transactional leadership being applied to the lower-level needs and being more managerial in style, it is a foundation for transformational leadership which applies to higher-level needs.


Leadership, whether transformational or transactional, is the most important ingredient to building a strong prosperous society. We have witnessed countries that have all the cards stacked against them find ways to buck the odds and overcome the challenges of their situation to become great, thriving and prosperous places because they had great leaders. Veritable examples of countries with excellent leadership are Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and the other Asian Tigers. We have also witnessed countries with endless opportunity squander their assets and potential because they lacked effective leadership. A perfect example is Nigeria and Haiti. Nigeria was in the same position with Countries like Taiwan, Singapore and even the UAE in the sixties. While those counties were able to navigate their ways into prosperity as a result of good leadership, Nigeria has regressed as a result of the egocentric and narcissist   nature of those who had called themselves our leaders.

The excellent thing with good leadership is that the places with great leaders tend to create more of them, because leadership is contagious and vice-versa. Great leaders raise the bar of their societies. They bring others into the fold and create a culture of leadership. This is a good thing, because leadership is to societies as chocolate chips are to cookies: the more the better. Places with strong and widely shared leadership know how to work together and get things done, while places with only a few dedicated leaders see slower progress, and people often burn out.

Leadership itself goes beyond the rulership of a country. Leadership permeates the precinct of even micro-societies, communities and organisations. For instance, in an organisation, The importance of leadership in management of an organisation, cannot be over­emphasized. To get things done by people, management must supply leadership in the organisation. Managers must influence the team for work accomplishment through leadership. The ability of the leadership to set a clear vision means influencing employees to understand and accept the future state of the organization. A unit of young soldiers may not believe in a particular mission ordered by their commanding officer. A good leader will influence the soldiers to perform their duties by explaining the vision and the importance of their role in the outcome. The soldiers will be more apt to follow.

Motivating subordinates means to find out enough about the needs and wants of subordinates, giving them what they need and providing praise for a job well done. Being far from home is lonely for a young soldier. A good leader knows this and will communicate with his unit to learn more about their needs and wants. It may be as simple as giving the soldiers a sweet treat for their efforts. When guiding employees, a good organisational leadership define their role in the work process and provide them with tools needed to perform, participate in and reward their efforts (beyond the contractual wages) along the way. A leader does not only supervise but also play a guiding role for the subordinates. Guidance here means instructing the subordinates the way they have to perform their work effectively and efficiently. Leadership creates confidence through expressing the work efforts to the subordinates, explaining to them clearly, their role(s) and giving them guidelines to achieve the goals effectively. It is also important for a good leader to hear the employees with regards to their complaints and problems.

Good leadership knows that it cannot know everything that needs to be known and will thus, find ways of expanding knowledge as needed; seeking diverse opinions to inform decision-making. Good leadership always displays good communication and listening skills; puts the society’s interest over personal agenda; makes difficult decisions and make long-term plans for the benefit of the generality of the society as a whole. Poor leadership on the other hand focuses on individual agendas; is single-minded in decision-making; do not consider different ideas or perspectives; cannot take criticism; is not well informed; and do not plan beyond their tenure.


 The nature of governance in any given political system is determined by the quality of leadership in power. Nigeria, a nation endowed with natural and human resources still battles with crisis of leadership and governance after fifty-one years of independence The socio-economic and political development of any country depends largely on the ability of its leadership to facilitate, entrench and sustain good governance. Importantly, good governance is a manifestation of committed, patriotic and discipline leadership. Significantly, Nigeria is among the countries of the world endowed with natural and valuable resources that are capable of improving socio-economic status and living standards of the citizenry. But the reverse has always been the case. The crop of leaders that have attained leadership position since independence had in one way or the other lacked vision, most of them have been engrossed with corruption and political bickering leading to the enthronement of maladministration and mismanagement of public resources, and consequently economic setback and abject poverty as nation heritage.

As a matter of fact, going by all the development parameters and performance indices, Nigerians leaders have failed, economically, macroeconomic stability, fiscal discipline, economic reforms, due process and relatively low inflation rates that the state could claim to have achieved sit alongside weak business confidence, low growth, massive unemployment, and rising inequality between the rich and the poor.  Nigeria may have the highest GDP in Africa, but ranks low on Human Development indices (HDI), while corruption, which every government has always promised to eradicate at its inauguration continued unabated. (To be continued).


 “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant”. (Max DePree).


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