Leadership and Service in the Nigerian Democratic System 

Leadership and Service in the Nigerian Democratic System 

Keynote address by High Chief Obiora Okonkwo, PhD, at the 2019 Retreat of the Southeast Zone of Heads of Federal Establishments and Parastatals Forum held at Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu, Anambra State.


I want to begin by thanking organizers of this retreat for inviting me to share my thoughts on the issue of leadership and service in Nigeria’s democratic system. I find the invitation very interesting as I am neither a civil servant nor a participant in the democratic governance of Nigeria since the return of democracy to the country in 1999, to discuss this topic. I see myself rather as an intellectual and a business leader with occasional forays into the political turf. It is therefore interesting to have this opportunity to dialogue with those who have been active participants in the business of governance as the engine room of the success or failure of political leadership. That essentially is what the civil service is. I have often heard that to achieve leadership progress in any nation, there ought to be a mix of private-sector leadership and public sector leadership. I believe this will enable the public sector to assimilate those traits that make the private sector succeed where the public sector fails. I also believe that going forward, our political leaders must come down to learn some tricks from the business leadership.

However, while I will be making a mix of leadership examples from Nigerian and other jurisdictions, I will also draw from my personal experience to share thoughts that had helped me succeed as a venture capitalist and a business leader who renders service. But first, we must answer the question WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

What is Leadership?

There are as varied opinions on what exactly leadership is as there are people interested in discussing the topic. For everyone, there is a definition of leadership that suits the objective. However, I find the definition of leadership as espoused in dictionary.com interesting. It sees the word leadership as a noun and defines it as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”. It further gives its other names, or synonyms, as “guidance, direction, authority, control, management, superintendence, supervision”.

In expressing usage of the word and its forms, the dictionary sees it also as “the state or position of being a leader” in which case it gives its other manifestations as “headship, directorship, direction, governorship, governance, administration, jurisdiction, captaincy, superintendence, control, ascendancy, rule, command, power, mastery, domination, dominion, premiership, sovereignty”. Dictionary.com seeks to simplify the meaning of leadership such that it appeals to ordinary understanding. Like I said earlier, there are varied definitions of this term as much as there are people willing to discuss it. However, leadership, to my mind, has come under two broad perspectives as political and business leadership.

In understanding leadership, there is a critical element as shown in the definition above. That element is the people. The definition says “a group of people or an organisation”. Without those, there is no leadership. In other words, leadership is about pulling people towards a certain desired action. It is like a bus driver taking people from Onitsha to Lagos. The passenger’s desire is to get to Lagos and so, they trust you, the driver, to take them to Lagos safely. That is why they paid bus fares in the first place.

In leadership, therefore, whether in business organisations or governmental systems, the people look up to have someone whom they have freely submitted their will, to lead them towards the desired destination. That desired destination cannot be anything other than good. Anything outside this corrupts the mandate of leadership. People freely submit and accept that you lead them because they believe that you have the competence and capacity to take them to where they are going.

This was exemplified in the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. They freely and willfully followed him in the belief that where ever he was taking them to, in obedience to his God, must be better than Egypt. It means that they saw in Moses some level of capacity and competence which they must have gleaned from his ability to clearly define the parameters during his engagement with King Pharaoh.

Therefore, when a people or an organisation entrusts one with leadership, it does so on the firm belief that the person is capable of articulating a clear vision, make tough decisions that would enable the group to achieve desired goals, or even create the environment that will enable members of the groups to achieve individual goals. So, within the context of leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization” lies the understanding that leadership comes with influence and guidance. It means that a leader must have the capability to influence members of the organisation and guide them towards desired goals.

Theories of Leadership

I want to focus on two leadership theories that I find interesting. They have been used to define leadership, either in politics or business, for several years. The first theory is the one that says leadership is about the great man. It is otherwise called The Great Man Theory.

The Great Man theory presupposes that one is a leader because he or she was born to lead and that the ability to lead is inborn. It is for this theory that some are referred to as ‘born leader”. Kendra Cherry writing on this topic in www.verywellmind.com said that “the great man theory of leadership, suggests that the capacity for leadership is inborn.” Cherry said it is “either you are a natural-born leader or you are not.”

Tracing the origins of this theory, Cherry said “the great man theory of leadership became popular during the 19th-century” adding that “the myth behind some of the world’s most famous leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Mahatma Gandhi and Alexander the Great helped contribute to the notion that great leaders are born and not made.”

However, if you look critically at the names mentioned above, it would seem justifiable because history did not have a record of any elections where the above names were elected to lead their people. The stories of how they even emerged to lead their people are often not told. Looking back, they seemed like the right men for the job and also justify the theory that leaders are born because they stood in and filled a gap even without formal training in leadership.

The second theory I want to highlight is called The Trait Theory which supposes that every leader is born with a leadership trait which is developed along the line. This theory seeks to look out for some of such traits in people before leadership is cast upon them. Believing that there are certain traits in people that distinguished them to become leaders is specifically, about behavioural manifestations.

Writing on this topic in www.educational-business-articles.com, Cherry said “trait theory of leadership is one of the first academic theories of leadership and attempts to answer why some people are good leaders and others are not. In fact, the theory can be traced back to the nineteenth century, whereby a man called Thomas Carlyle used such understanding to identify the talents, skills and characteristics of men who rose to power. The trait theory of leadership is based on the characteristics of many leaders – both successful and unsuccessful – and is used to predict leadership effectiveness. The resulting lists of traits are then compared to those of potential leaders to assess their likelihood of success or failure. Once found, the theory is that these natural leaders can then be nurtured to become great leaders.”

However, if we look at the history of the world and come to the realization that it has always been about great men and women who distinguished themselves in the different fields, we may settle with the theory that leaders are born so. Beyond the leadership provided by Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed, whose leadership was divine, all other leaders in history have had to rise from their societies to change the course of history. Today, when we read about the greatest Army Generals and The Spectator index (@spectatorindex) lists them as Alexander the Great of the Macedonian Empire, Hannibal of Carthage, Julius Caesar of the Roman empire, Khalid Ibn al-Walid of the Rashidun Caliphate and Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire. When you look at these names, you see people who emerged from nowhere and changed the course of history.

In the contemporary world, we see how leaders are chosen. We have seen some that had failed despite showing signs of great leadership. For instance, we had Lech Walesa in Poland. As a Dock Workers Union leader, he led the first-ever national strike in Poland which led to the eventual collapse of communism in that country. He was thought to be a great leader as a consequence, he was elected in a popular vote to become the country’s first post-communist era President. However, the people rejected him as president even before his first term elapsed. A similar situation played out in Zambia with Frederick Chiluba. He was also a very popular labour leader that rallied the country for multi-party democracy. But he failed as president and could not win another term of office. They succeeded as labour leaders but failed as president.

These go to underscore my believe that leaders are born especially when you equate these views with the leadership of such persons Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Pope Francis, the Catholic Pontiff and Narendra Modi of India who is doing great things to drive change and lead their countries to desirable destinations and are, as a consequence, listed by most journals as the most powerful leaders of the contemporary world.

So, I agree with sociologist, Herbert Spencer, when he said in his book, The Study of Sociology, that “you must admit that the genesis of a great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown… Before he can remake his society, his society must make him.” He simply says that leaders are products of their societies and the environment.

Leadership Models

In my readings, I have come across several political and business thinkers creating and interpreting different types of leadership. In political leadership, the forms of leadership you see go directly with the form of government you have. If you have a dictatorship, the leadership is bound to be dictatorial. If you have an autocratic regime, your leadership is certainly going to be autocratic. However, there are identified some types of government which I consider necessary for our discourse here.

There have been identified what is called Situational Leadership, Transactional Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Autocratic Leadership and Laissez-Faire Leadership. Daniel Goldman, the author of Primal Leadership, in 2002, created six leadership forms which he listed as coercive leadership, authoritative leadership, affiliative leadership, democratic leadership, pacesetting leadership and coaching leadership.

Situational Leadership: According to Wikipedia, this form of leadership was created by the duo of Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in 1969 while working on a book, Management of Organizational Behavior. They argued here that the “characteristics of a successful leader will vary based on the people he or she needs to lead, as well as on the context in which the group is operating.” Mary K. Pratt writing on the topic in an article published on whatis.com explained that “this theory stems from the belief that individuals respond differently to particular leadership styles.” Pratt argues that “that the most effective leaders are those who can understand each follower’s requirements, how those requirements fit into the context of the worker’s environment and then adjust their own leadership styles to meet the follower’s needs.”

If you work as a civil servant, I am sure you have come across such situations that best describe this sort of leadership. You rise to the occasion depending on the situation. So, I expect everyone here to look at himself to see if this is the sort of leadership, he/she offers as a civil servant for the progress of our nation.

Transactional Leadership: This leadership model is defined by Pratt as a “leadership style where the executive relies on rewards and punishments to achieve optimal job performance from his or her subordinates.” According to Pratt, “transactional leadership is based on an exchange, or transaction: The leader rewards workers who perform their tasks to the specified levels and punishes workers who do not perform to those set standards.” She explained that “this relationship between leader and subordinates is based on theories that assume individuals are not self-motivated to do their tasks and need structure, instruction and supervision to accomplish their jobs. The theory also postulates that workers will perform their tasks as the transactional leader wants them to do in exchange for the leader’s offering something that the workers want, such as higher pay.”

Many business leaders espouse this model of leadership. In most cases, it is believed that the more you pay your workers, the better they deliver on tasks. There are business leaders who don’t agree with this. But for me, a worker deserves a decent wage. It could be the motivation he or she needs to perform better.

As civil servants, this will appeal to you because we all see the constant battle between government and civil servants for more wages. Sometimes, civil servants delay or refuse, to discharge their functions until there is some form of inducement. Transactional leadership is the bane of the civil service in Nigeria and until we move away from that, service delivery in the civil service system will still dominate public discourse.

Transformational Leadership: This model supposes that leaders encourage, inspire and motivate employees to innovate and create change that will help grow and shape the future success of the organisation or state. Wikipedia credits James V. Downton with developing this model of leadership and explains it as the “leadership where a leader works with teams to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group.”

It also said that “transformational leadership serves to enhance the motivation, morale, and job performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms; these include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to a project and to the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers in order to inspire them and to raise their interest in the project; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, allowing the leader to align followers with tasks that enhance their performance.”

Expanding the discourse on this form of leadership, Jerry Luftman, a management and Information technology expert wrote that “transformational leaders possess the ability to embrace change and lead their organization through such change by anticipating the impact it will have on the organization and perhaps on the entire industry. They also embody leadership traits such as emotional intelligence, willingness to collaborate and empathy.”

Professor Archie Brown, an emeritus professor of political science at Oxford University, London, recommends this sort of leadership to countries. In his seminal book, The Myth of the Strong Leader”, he argues that the concept of the strong leader is a myth that has helped people who are not elected to wield state power on behalf of the strong man who is often isolated by their vision of themselves as strong men. Professor Brown insists that transformational leaders are more capable of driving change than a strong leader because the feedback loop necessary for effective leadership is often blocked by hanger’s on and state power dispensed on his behalf and without his knowledge.

Transformational leaders “hold positive expectations for followers, believing that they can do their best. As a result, they inspire, empower, and stimulate followers to exceed normal levels of performance. Transformational leaders also focus on and care about followers and their personal needs and development. Transformational leaders fit well in leading and working with complex workgroups and organizations, where beyond seeking an inspirational leader to help guide them through an uncertain environment, followers are also challenged and feel empowered; this nurture them into becoming loyal, high performers”, says Wikipedia.

When you look around, two names readily come to mind as some of the best that had used this sort of leadership model to effect social and political change. They are Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jnr. They motivated their followers by their action and speeches. For instance, Mandela did not fire a single shot but he successfully killed apartheid and re-united South Africa with his post-prison decisions, especially, the decision to drop revenge at the door of the prison as he stepped into freedom. It is doubtful if South Africa would have become what it is today had Mandela pursued retaliation. The same goes with Martin Luther King Jnr. His motivational approach sparked off a movement that culminated in the election of Barack Obama, the first black man to be President of the United States.

In Nigeria, you could point at one or two persons as saying they have been transformational in their leadership. And when you look at the civil service, people remember with nostalgia, the times of the likes of Alison Ayida, Okwadike Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Ahmed Joda etc. We called them ‘super-perm secs’ not because they were powerful but because their approach towards service was really transformational. Situate that to what we have now and find for yourselves where you fit in. the question now is, are you being transformational in the leadership of your department?

Then, there is Laissez-Faire Leadership. Some works describe Warren Buffet, one of America’s richest businessmen as exemplifying this sort of leadership. Specifically, Cherry says this model supposes that the “leaders are hands-off and allow group members to make the decisions.” However, he notes that “researchers have found that this is generally the leadership style that leads to the lowest productivity among group members.” here, power is delegated while the leader sits back and watch. This describes what we in Nigeria call ‘I-don’t-care’ or ‘siddon look’. When a leader creates an ‘I-don’t-care’ attitude to leadership issues, his subordinates dispense leadership on his behalf. Your subordinates are most likely to play truants and fail to deliver on assignments if they figure that their team leader does not care.

Some characteristics of Laissez-Faire leadership include very little guidance from leaders, complete freedom for followers to make decisions, leaders provide the tools and resources needed, group members are expected to solve problems on their own and power is handed over to followers, yet leaders still take responsibility for the group’s decisions and actions.

However, since this sort of leadership thrives on delegated roles, it is contestable that it suits any political situation because where team members lack the capacity to deliver on mandates, it becomes a panacea for chaos. Therefore, its downsides include “lack of role awareness; poor involvement with the group; low accountability; passivity and avoidance as leaders do nothing to motivate followers and also do not recognize the efforts of team members. This means that the task will suffer if the group members lack the knowledge and have no direction.

A leader can comfortably delegate roles if group members demonstrate the capacity and competence to achieve tasks. But ask yourselves as civil servants, do you fall into this category? If you examine yourself properly, you may find that the civil service became the butt of jokes because of this attitude to leadership. In some cases, directors show this attitude and argue that the perm sec will not allow them to do certain things. And as you pass the buck, their juniors learn from you and then, together, they create a spiral attitude that affects service delivery.

We also have Autocratic Leadership, which according to leadership expert, Joseph Chris (www.josephcris.com, is “a form of management where “authority” is in the hands of one person alone. This person can be the leader, manager, or business owner, who typically has complete control over a project, work area, or whole business and makes decisions with little to no input from group members.” He argued that “autocratic leaders tend to make choices based on their judgment and ideas alone, implementing absolute authoritarian control over their group or organization.”

The likes of Adolf Hitler, Attila the Hun, Father Junipero Serra, Genghis Khan, King Henry III, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Queen Elizabeth I, are listed among some of the leaders that had demonstrated this sort of leadership. Sometimes, these leaders believed that their team members needed close monitoring and coercion for them to deliver on tasks. They believe that subordinates who are given the freedom to work would ultimately become unproductive. But with coercion, you don’t achieve much because you will not be able to communicate effectively.

Chris lists characteristics of this model of leadership to include “absolute control” where “leaders tell everyone what to do, dictate all the work methods and processes, and enforce their own ideas and judgment; decisions concerning goals, tasks, projects, processes and so on are created by the leader alone; there is little or no input from others and, team members are rarely asked or trusted with decisions or important tasks, creating no real sense of empowerment.”

In spite of these, Chris listed four occasions when this sort of leadership is best to include “when a quick decision is needed; when close oversight is needed; when work process needs to be streamlined and; when poor performance needs to be corrected”.

It means that sometimes, a little bit of stern attitude to leadership is required to get certain things done and at the right time. Today, we see state governor using the cover of executive orders to fast-track certain necessary actions that constitutionally would be slow. Sometimes too, you may have to push your team beyond the limits using a little bit of force. Some call it the carrot and stick approach.

However, as a civil servant, you run the risk of running against your procedures and rules when you deploy this sort of leadership to get your team to achieve tasks as it may lead to your team resigning from their jobs because of you, or creates communication problem between you and the team which will eventually lead to failure.

Leadership Qualities

Having been through the above, we may now start asking ourselves what exactly constitutes leadership qualities. Often, we see some flashes of brilliance in our subordinates and are led to conclude that they may become effective leaders. Mark my words here. I am deliberate in saying effective leaders and not good leaders. A good or bad leader is a moral judgment which, to my mind, has nothing to do with effective leadership. How good or how bad someone is, is not a quality of leadership. Effective leadership is defined by competence and capacity. It is immaterial that a leader prays every hour. That’s is not leadership. If he does that and still shows how incompetent he/she is, then, he is incompetent and not an effective leader.

Capacity to motivate people; courage and being resolute; perseverance; trustworthiness; decisiveness; self-confidence; assertiveness; adaptability and flexibility; emotional stability and, creativity had been identified by different leadership scholars as some of the criteria that make for effective leadership.

Sarmad Hasan, writing about the 10 top leadership qualities in https://blog.taskque.com/characteristics-good-leaders/ listed honesty and integrity, confidence, inspiration, commitment and passion, good communicator, decision-making capability, accountability, delegation and empowerment, creativity and innovation and empathy as leadership qualities.

Hasan concludes with the argument that to become an effective leader, “you must have all these qualities but if you lack some of these qualities, then you might struggle to make the mark in the world of leadership. You will have to set a good example for others to follow. That is where your commitment, passion, empathy, honesty and integrity come into play. Good communication skills and decision-making capabilities also play a vital role in the success and failure of a leader. Lastly, innovation and creative thinking, as well as the futuristic vision, are a couple of key traits which make a leader stand out.” Here, John F. Kennedy readily comes to mind. Those who have studied the leadership style of JF Kennedy will observe that he epitomized all these qualities. I guess that is why the world still adores him.

Jack Welch, a leadership expert said: “good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” That is about leadership vision. This is exemplified by Steve Jobs who visioned Apple and altered IT world with apple products.

Winston Churchill said, “courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for, upon it, all others depend.” Today, history records Churchill as one of the most courageous leaders of Europe.

Larry Bossidy, a former CEO of Honeywell and author of the book Execution, explained why humility, as a leadership characteristic, would make you a more effective leader. He said: “The more you can contain your ego, the more realistic you are about your problems. You learn how to listen, and admit that you don’t know all the answers. You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn’t get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn’t keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared. Humility allows you to acknowledge your mistakes.”

It means that to become a very effective leader, you must also admit that you don’t know it all. Therefore, you must rely on others to help define certain things for you and you must learn from them too. It does not mean that you are weak. It rather means that you have the self-confidence to admit that you don’t have all the answers.

One other quality that you need to become a very effective leader is strategic planning and focus. Like it is said, if you don’t plan, you are actually planning to fail. Great leaders strategically plan for the future using indices of what is happening today and remain focused on their plans. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida showed strategic planning when as military President in the 1980s, he advocated a policy of four children per family. His reason was that the economy of the future, (as today was seen then) may not be able to sustain large families. Of course, Nigerians shot it down. But today, many are not even having four children.

Another motivational writer, Jack Canfield, said, “successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfilment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”. This is one thing that has seen me through as a business leader.

Always remember that effective leaders are good communicators and they also lead by example. Remember also that they are future-oriented, keep a positive attitude and finally, take responsibility for success and for failures.


Ladies and Gentlemen, embedded in all I have said about leadership here tonight, is the concept of service. I believe that a leader is a service provider. When you lead, you serve. In the Catholic Church, one of the titles give to the Pope, which is used in the opening of all Papal official communications, is Servus Sevorum Dei, meaning, servant of the servants of God. It simply says that a leader is a servant. His task is to serve. He serves the purpose of either leading the people to desirable locations, or rendering service which in essence, helps them to achieve satisfaction from what they desire. A good leader is like a good shepherd. A good shepherd does not go to bed until that last sheep is in.

As a political office holder, civil servant, business leader etc., you are called to a life of service. Though you may be the highest-ranking, you are still called to a life of service and you serve the people. It means that your office exists because people exist. If there are no people making up the space you call state, or business catchment area, your office becomes irrelevant. Your business makes no meaning if it does not render service. Whether you are into civil service or public service, manufacturing, distribution. extractive industry, telecommunications, banking, consumer goods production, entertainment etc, if that does not satisfy the peoples need, it is worthless.

However, what is service? Some dictionaries define it as “the action of helping or doing work for someone”. For this, they created such words as an act of assistance, good turn, favour, kindness, helping hand as synonyms. Some others define it as “a period of employment with a company or organization”, or “a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity and water”. For the purpose of this discourse, I will go with the last definition because, somehow, it captures the essence of the topic in relation to leadership.

That understanding also tallies with this from businessdictiionary.com which defines it as “a commercial enterprise that provides work performed in an expert manner by an individual or team for the benefit of its customers. The typical service business provides intangible products, such as accounting, banking, consulting, cleaning, landscaping, education, insurance, treatment, and transportation services.”

For me, the key phrase here is “benefit of its customers”. Therefore, whatever activity you are engaged in which does not work to the benefit of your customers, becomes a burden on society. So, as a civil servant, the question is, what service do I render and who is my customer? To my mind, the service you render is the effective discharge of the responsibilities of your office, without external inducement, and your customer is the general public. It is members of the public that expect effective service from the hospitals. It is they that expect effective service from public utility companies. It is they that look forwards to effective service from telecommunication companies etc.; it is the members of the public that look up to the civil service to be a functional engine room for the effective delivery of housing, water, roads, electricity, security, education, transportation, etc.

These desires are in line with the mandate given by the constitution at Chapter 2 where it said that “security and welfare of the people shall be the primary function of government”. In other words, every service rendered by the civil and public service, which constitute part of the government, must be geared towards ensuring “security and welfare of the people”. Outside this, what you get is service failure. And service failure here is a manifestation of leadership failure.

Experts in service delivery have argued that to ensure that service is delivered in such a way that it leads to market leadership, there must be something called service culture, service quality, employee engagement and customer experience. These four add to up to create what is better known as the service delivery system. In Nigeria, to achieve this service delivery system, the government created SERVICOM, which assignment was to simply ensure that consumers of services offered by government through civil and public servants, get their money’s worth. This became necessary because consumer feedback on service delivery was negative. Let us look at ourselves again. From what we have in this paragraph, let us take an introspective look at ourselves and situate ourselves and our roles in the growth of service culture in Nigeria.

Peter Ankerstjerne explained these four concepts that constitute service delivery system in his work on Service Management thus: “Service Culture is built on elements of leadership principles, norms, work habits and vision, mission and values. Employee Engagement includes employee attitude activities, purpose-driven leadership and HR processes. Service Quality includes strategies, processes and performance management systems while, Customer Experience includes elements of customer intelligence, account management and continuous improvements”.

He further explains that “culture is the set of overriding principles according to which management controls, maintains and develops the social process that manifests itself as the delivery of service and gives value to customers” while noting that “even the best-designed processes and systems will only be effective if carried out by people with higher engagement”, and that “helping the client fulfil their mission and supporting them in the pursuit of their organizational purpose, must be the foundation of any service provider partnership”. Finally, Ankerstjerne reminds that “successful service delivery works on the basis that the customer is a part of the creation and delivery of the service”. Therefore, to bring the customer to this realization, you need leadership tact.

To help us achieve excellent service culture, John Spacey (www.simplicable.com), a service delivery expert, designed for us 24 key elements to focus on. These include  respect for the customer’s intelligence, respect for the customer’s time, respect the customer’s wallet, common courtesies, professionalism, (living up to the standards of your profession including your competence, ethics, professional demeanor and appearance), teamwork,  values, relationships over efficiency, diligence over roles, tone at the top (when leadership put the customer first in their behavior, strategy, plans, policies, operations, products and services this sets a positive example for service at every level of the organization), accepting responsibility, authenticity (never fake anything. For example, respecting the customer both on your lunch break and when they are sitting in front of you in a meeting), personal service, charisma, complaints are opportunities, customer is always right (avoid directly telling the customer they are wrong. If you need to correct the customer, do it in a positive and helpful way), customers for life, frontline decision making, frontline information (customer facing employees should be provided will all the information that they feel they need to do their job without needless secrecy), mystery (your internal processes should be invisible to a customer especially where they  are not useful to them), customer advocacy, learning from failure (failures are an important source of information to drive improvement), storytelling (build a collection of true stories that illustrate service success and failure) and, unique, memorable and epic (build a service culture that delivers unique, memorable or epic customer experiences.)


Ladies and gentlemen, when you think through the 24 elements listed here, you would begin to open your mind to service delivery in the government of our country. You will see the missing link between leadership and service delivery in government. If you position yourself rightly in the mix, you will see the role you, as a civil servant or a public officer, had played in designing, developing, and delivering the sort of service our country offers her citizens. This is where you come in. I am not here to indict you. I will rather invite you to locate yourself in the mix and introspectively review your role.

From whatever you come up with, you should be the one to tell us if we have fared well. You should now be in a position to say if we need improvements or not both collectively or individually. You should now be the one to lead that change, that is if you figure out there is a need for change. The leadership level necessary for this change is not the President or the Governor or Local Government Chairman, neither is it the minister or permanent secretary. It is you. It is how you deliver the service for which you are a civil servant, or public officer, that will add to bring about the sort of society and country that we desire.

Thank You


June 28, 2019

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