One of the commonest discussions around leadership is whether a leader is born or made. We have also heard, on several instances, leadership discussions based on the following questions:
- Who is a leader?
- When should I lead?
- Are some born great leaders whilst others are not?
- What makes a great leader?
- How can one know that he/she is a leader?
The Analogy of the Orange Tree
The orange tree has many uses to humanity. Whilst most people may initially think of an orange tree as a source of oranges and orange juice, a closer look may reveal that an orange tree has many uses. Some of these may include:
- Food and drink – oranges and juice.
- Health – vitamins, body nutrients and herbal use.
- Wood – firewood, charcoal, wooden items such as a seat, table, bed, spatula, etc.
- Soil conservation – manure and mulching.
- Fodder for animals like goats.
- Income – business, employment, money.
- Abode for birds to build their nests
The orange tree then has the ability to benefit humanity in very diverse ways through the ‘gifts’, ‘talents’ or ‘abilities’ it is naturally endowed with. These gifts were given freely and indiscriminately to every orange tree.
The big question: What is the orange tree supposed to do with these gits?
Primarily the orange tree was favoured and privileged with these gifts for only one purpose – to serve humanity. Every orange tree has these gifts which ought to be spread, shared, distributed and scattered to the world. No orange tree eats its own fruits, no matter the circumstances. Indeed the shade of any tree doesn’t primarily benefit that tree; rather it benefits other trees under it. The more the oranges an orange tree gives, the more valuable it becomes. In the lifetime of an orange tree and under the best care, an orange tree would never tire or get depleted of its oranges.
Imagine a mammoth orange tree with hundreds and hundreds of succulent oranges which nobody picks to use. What would happen to the fruits? They would certainly overripe, drop to the ground and rot. Eventually the seeds would germinate into a cluster of seedlings fighting for limited resources. They would eventually choke each other to death because they were never spread.
Every human being was born with the requisite talent, gift, ability and potential for leadership. Our leadership ability at conception is equal. That is why a baby doesn’t have to be given a manual to breastfeed or cry (communicate) to have its needs addressed.
What are some of the leadership gifts that each human being is endowed with? They are numerous and indiscriminate in all people. These include the ability to communicate, respect, appreciate, dignify, relate, believe in, give hope, support, encourage, empathise, understand, care for and love humanity. This is what the orange tree precisely does.
Essentially leadership is all about identifying the divine gifts within us and understanding that our primary purpose, truly the only purpose, is to serve them to humanity. The truth is that the more we share them and the more indiscriminately we do this, the more they grow within us and the more value we add to our leadership.
Take an example of a leader who is ever keen on serving respect to his subjects. The same level of (dis)respect is served to him. If a leader is dictatorial, insensitive and abrasive to his subjects, he ends up motivating them through threats and intimidation. This approach limits people’s ingenuity and motivation leading to lack of productive contribution to team and organizational growth.
When we don’t understand our leadership gifting and the purpose, we are likely to abuse leadership. We end up hoarding these gifts based on the scarcity mentality that if we share we lose. Yet the truth is that if we hold them back and hesitate in sharing them to the world they end up rotting in us. For these gifts to grow, remain fresh and sassy they must be continuously broadcasted and scattered.
No seed grows in preservation. No vehicle can move unless it distributes the power within it.
No tree, no matter how mammoth it may be, can make a forest by itself. But if it distributed its seeds and allowed them to grow separately, it would eventually develop the very forest that is critical to its own survival. If leaders appreciated the benefits of growing others through 360 degree communication, empowering team members for personal growth and acknowledging their input, they would end up creating forests of organizational progress. It must be appreciated that great teams sustain great leadership.
Leadership then is everyone. This is because we are all privileged with the gift and talent of leadership. Leadership is not about having a position, title, team, family, department or organization. Indeed the first principle of leadership is; lead thyself first. Leading thyself is really about discovering your unique calling to be a leader and appreciating that you have the commensurate gift. Once you do this, then surrender yourself in eternal passion to serve the gift.
And just as John Quincy Adams said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”.Share this inspiring article