BEING A SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AMUWO ODOFIN LG, COMRADE AYODELE ADEWALE AT A READ TO LEAD AFRICA REALITY TV SHOW SEASON 2, ON READERS ARE LEADERS;THE ADVANTAGE LEADERS WHO READ HAVE OVER NON-READERS, AND LEADERSHIP QUALITIES OF ‘LEADERS OF TOMORROW’, HELD AT KUNIKE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, OSOGBO, OSUN STATE, ON MONDAY, AUGUST 5TH, 2013.
Permit me to start this speech with a quote from Horace Man, “A house without books is like a room without window. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them”.
It brings me great joy to be part of your re-building and re-moulding exercise. Suffice to say that, it is a right step at the right direction.
I will want to use this opportunity to thank the wife of the former governor of Oyo state, Mrs. Bukola Ladoja for investing in education and more importantly for organizing a talk show to task the intelligence of these young ones as well as exposing them to reading habit and engaging them in public speaking, quiz, debates and research talks, amongst others.
Distinguished, reading may not always be easy, but it is a highly rewarding exercise. From a very tender age, children must be made to familiarize themselves with the zeal to read elementary materials, as the child grows he must be taught to start reading general interest periodicals, newspapers and educational magazines.
Even though global literacy rates are high (84%), people are reading less and less deeply. This trend is especially detrimental to us in the leadership position. Deep broad reading habits are often defining characteristics of great leaders, and can catalyze insight, innovation and personal effectiveness.
When I was at your age and up till now, I have made it a habit to re-read specific books every year because I need constant reminders of how to organize and develop myself to meet the reality on ground.
Whether you re-read a book or article to remind you of concepts, or read content; reading is valuable because it keeps important memories top on your mind.
There are numerous advantages derived by leaders from reading. The following reasons will suffice for our purpose.
Leaders derive enlightenment and exposures from books. Books are amazing source of knowledge, insight and ideas. Leaders read very wide to become masters at a wide range of subjects and issues.
A reader-leader who is a medical doctor by occupation, for instance, would freely discuss other issues because he had come in contact with and understand a vast and wide array of issues bordering on economy, business, politics, family and administration, amongst others.
He would not be a novice whenever issues that border on the above subject matters are discussed. For instance, there is a popular saying in journalism that “Know something about everything and everything about something”.
Leaders derive enjoyment from books. Reading stimulates the mind and engages one’s imagination. It causes you to think, imagine, break-down and apply. Leaders read materials such as biographies and auto-biographies of great people they are educational and very enjoyable.
Leaders derive enrichment from reading. Reader-leaders are usually privileged to sit down one on one with the world’s brightest minds and have the latter mentor them. Over the years, readers grow in immeasurable bounds as they continue to absorb more educational materials.
Reading helps leaders to learn new skills, gain new understanding, and change their mindset. Jim Rohn once said “Formal education will make you a living but self-education will make you a fortune.”
Developing the habit of reading outside the confines of your classrooms will allow you to continue to grow and develop making you relevant and empowering you to succeed in life.
You can also lead others when you read. Reading increases your verbal intelligence, making a leader more adapt and articulate communicator.
The aforementioned are the advantages readers have over non- readers. You will therefore agree with me, that reading is not ordinarily a necessity, but a MUST!
Students, I encourage you to create time for reading. Time never “appears for anything”, you have to create it. If anything else, learn how to multi-task yourselves.
In Amuwo Odofin local government, for example, we have placed education as a topnotch priority. We organize annual youth essay competitions, aimed at improving reading and studying culture.
This event has helped to build the reading consciousness amongst the students of senior secondary schools; both in the public and private schools. We have also promoted the Lagos State organized Spelling Bee competition.
For the past five years since the inception of the present administration in Amuwo Odofin local government, we have been organizing JAMB and GCE free tutorials for indigent students of the local government.
We also gave out 420,000 note books and 250 JAMB forms recently. This is aimed at re-positioning the educational sector in our local government, and indeed in Lagos State with the sole aim of making them responsible to the society.
If you are a reader, you should be striving to develop more knowledge to improve yourselves. To do anything else is to short change your ability to lead.
Even at this, you still have to display some leadership qualities for you to be the leader of today and not tomorrow.
Firstly, you have to be able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking.
Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of.
Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and also keeps the team well equipped with new ideas that can further his or her vision.
Secondly, you have to be creative. You should have the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that constrains solutions.
Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions.
Thirdly, you have to be fair in dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment.
He or she must avoid conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel that they are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication.
Fourthly, you have to be assertive and not aggressive. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leaders.
Lastly, a sense of humor is vital to relieve tension and boredom, as well as to defuse hostility. Effective leaders know how to use humor to energize followers.
Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment. And simply put, humor fosters good camaraderie.
On a final note, in your pursuit to become a stronger leader dont forget this basic habit Leaders are Readers.
Thank you for listening.
Comrade Ayodele Adewale
Amuwo Odofin LG