REV. DR ADELOKOJI OKEJINMI IJAOLA
Change is inevitable. It is the only constant thing known to humans. When Paul was leaving the stage, he had those who took over from him: Timothy and Titus. He challenged them to keep up the good work and keep the banner of Christ flying.
No human leader is meant to last forever. Organisational leadership changes from time to time. This year in the Nigerian Baptist Convention, the current President, Rev. Dr Samson Olasupo Adeniyi Ayokunle will be rotating out of office after ten years of meritorious leadership and a new President is expected to take over. As organisations like ours evolve over time, stability and change coexist. The freshness of a river is in its ability to receive and give out water.
It is a year of transition for us. In the year of transition, many things happen; change, acceptance or non-acceptance of the new leader, comparism of the new and the old leader, shift in allegiances, new allegiances, reshuffling of staff in the office, new appointments etc. All these will impact the Convention in one way or the other. This being the case, it is crucial for us to prepare ourselves for the transition that will take place soon.
Where we are as a Convention
Organisations normally go through four main changes throughout their growth (Klepper, 1997):
- Formative Period- This is when an organisation is just getting started. Although there is a founding vision (the purpose of the organization), there are no formal definitions. This is just as well because there should be a lot of experimentation and innovation taking place. These changes of creativity and discovery are needed to overcome obstacles and accomplish breakthroughs.
- Rapid Growth Period- Direction and coordination are added to the organization to sustain growth and solidify gains. Change is focused on defining the purpose of the organization and on the mainstream business.
- Mature Period- The strong growth curve levels off to the overall pace of the organisation. Changes are needed to maintain established gains and ensure maximum gains are achieved.
- Declining Period- This is the rough ride. For some organizations, it means downsizing and reorganization. To survive, changes must include tough objectives and compassionate implementation. The goal is to get out of the old and into something new. Success in this period means that the four periods start over again. Failure means the end of the organisation is imminent.
For some organizations, the four periods of growth come and go very rapidly, for others, it may take decades. Failure to follow-through with the needed changes in any of the four growth periods means the death of the organisation.
The Nigerian Baptist Convention is at mature period hence the need for change or transition in leadership from time to time.
What happens when there is a Transition?
Here are three things that happen during transition:
- Structure Change- A structure is a visual diagram of an organisation that describes what staff do, whom they report to, and how decisions are made. It is an arrangement and organisation of interrelated elements in a material object or system. The structure may not change adversely, but it will change slightly. We must be ready to accommodate any change in our structure.
- Strategy Change-Strategy is the method worked out in advance for achieving some objectives. The present methods of doing things may change. We must be ready to accommodate any change in this direction.
- System Change- A system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; it is an organised scheme or method. A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network, a complex whole.
With the knowledge of the above, we must do three principal things:
- We must be flexible: We must not be fixed in our ways.
- We must be accountable: When situations change, we must take charge.
- We must look to the future: Our attitude towards change will determine how it influences us.
Why people resist Transition
There are different responses to transition by different people. Some people accept change easily while some people do not. Why do some people resist transition?
- Dislike of a disruption in their lives.
- Not being able to adapt and learn.
- Assignments or jobs might become harder.
- Loss of control.
- Dislike for the incoming leader.
- Threatening of means of livelihood.
- Not having a say in the new administration.
Types and Styles of Leadership
- Coaching Leader/Style
Coaching leaders are people who can quickly recognize their team members’ strengths, weaknesses and motivations to help each individual improve. This type of leader often assists team members in setting smart goals and then provides regular feedback with challenging projects to promote growth.
A coaching leader: is supportive, offer guidance instead of giving commands, value learning as a way of growing, ask guided questions, balance relaying knowledge and helping others find it themselves, is self-aware.
- Visionary Leader/Style
Visionary leaders have a powerful ability to drive progress and usher in periods of change by inspiring employees and earning trust for new ideas. Visionary leaders are also able to establish a strong organizational bond. They strive to foster confidence among direct reports and colleagues alike.
A visionary leader is: persistent and bold, strategic, a risk-taker, inspirational, optimistic, innovative, magnetic.
- Servant Leader/Style
Servant leaders live by a people-first mindset and believe that when team members feel personally and professionally fulfilled, they’re more effective and more likely to produce great work regularly. Because of their emphasis on employee satisfaction and collaboration, they tend to achieve higher levels of respect. Servant leadership is an excellent leadership style for organisations of any industry and size but is especially prevalent within non-profits. These types of leaders are exceptionally skilled in building employee morale and helping people re-engage with their work.
A servant leader: motivates his team, has excellent communication skills, personally cares about his team, encourages collaboration and engagement, commits to growing the team professionally.
- Autocratic Leader/Style
Autocratic leadership is the inverse of democratic leadership. In this leadership style, the leader makes decisions without taking input from anyone who reports to them. Employees are neither considered nor consulted prior to a direction, and are expected to adhere to the decision at a time and pace stipulated by the leader.
An autocratic leader: has self-confidence, is self-motivated, communicates clearly and consistently, follows the rules, is dependable, values highly structured environments, and believes in supervised work environments.
- Laissez-Faire Leader/Style
This leadership style is the opposite of the autocratic leadership type, focusing mostly on delegating many tasks to team members and providing little to no supervision. Because a laissez-faire leader does not spend their time intensely managing employees, they often have more time to dedicate to other projects.
Although laissez-faire leadership can empower employees by trusting them to work however they’d like, it can limit their development and overlook critical company growth opportunities.
A laissez-faire leader: effectively delegates, believes in freedom of choice, provides sufficient resources and tools, will take control if needed, offers constructive criticism, fosters leadership qualities in the team, promotes an autonomous work environment.
- Democratic Leader/Style
Democratic leadership is exactly what it sounds like — the leader makes decisions based on the input of each team member. Although he or she makes the final call, each employee has an equal say on a proposal. Democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles because it allows lower-level employees to exercise authority they’ll need to use wisely in future positions they might hold. It also resembles how decisions can be made in company board meetings.
A democratic/participative leader: values group discussions, provides all information to team when making decisions, promotes a work environment where everyone shares their ideas, is rational, flexible and good at mediation.
- Pacesetting Leader/Style
The pacesetting leadership style is one of the most effective for driving fast results. These leaders are primarily focused on performance. They often set high standards and hold their team members accountable for hitting their goals. While the pacesetting leadership style is motivational and helpful in fast-paced environments where team members need to be energized, it’s not always the best option for team members who need mentorship and feedback.
A pacesetter leader: sets a high bar, focuses on goals, is slow to praise, will jump in to hit goals if needed, is highly competent, values performance over soft skills.
- Transformational Leader/Style
Transformational leadership is always “transforming” and improving upon the organisation’s conventions. Employees might have a basic set of tasks and goals that they complete every week or month, but the leader is constantly pushing them outside of their comfort zone. When starting a job with this type of leader, all employees might get a list of goals to reach, as well as deadlines for reaching them. While the goals might seem simple at first, this leader might pick up the pace of deadlines or give you more and more challenging goals as you grow with the company. The transformational leadership style is similar to the coach-style however, instead of placing the majority of the energy into each employee’s individual goals, the transformational leader is driven by a commitment to organizational objectives. Because these types of leaders spend much of their time on the big picture, this style of leading is best for teams that can handle many delegated tasks without constant supervision.
A transformational leader:has mutual respect with the team, provides encouragement, inspires others to achieve their goals, thinks of the big picture, places value on intellectually challenging the team, is creative, has a good understanding of organizational needs.
- Transactional Leader/Style
Transactional leaders are fairly common today. These leaders reward their employees precisely for the work they do. Transactional leadership helps establish roles and responsibilities for each employee, but it can also encourage bare-minimum work if employees know how much their effort is worth all the time. This leadership style can use incentive programs to motivate employees, but they should be consistent with the organisation’s goals and used in addition to unscheduled gestures of appreciation. A transactional leader is someone who is laser-focused on performance, similar to a pacesetter.
A transactional leader: values corporate structure, micromanages, doesn’t question authority, is practical and pragmatic, values goal hitting, and is reactionary.
- Bureaucratic Leader/Style
Bureaucratic leaders go by the books. This style of leadership might listen and consider the input of employees — unlike autocratic leadership — but the leader tends to reject an employee’s input if it conflicts with the organisation’s policy or past practices. The bureaucratic leadership style focuses on fixed duties within a hierarchy where each employee has a set list of responsibilities, and there is little need for collaboration and creativity.
A bureaucratic leader: is detail-oriented and task-focused, values rules and structure, has great work ethics, is strong-willed, has commitment to the organization, is self-disciplined.
Personality Traits in Leaders
There are some personality traits we expect to see in our leaders:
Dependability is a key characteristic of Christians. It is following through all the way to the end, whether the task is simple or complex. It is keeping an appointment and giving proper notification if you won’t show up.
It is taking full responsibility for one’s actions, and if wrong, one would rather suffer the consequences of being wrong than lie and be caught.
It is not being afraid to make decisions and then make corrections along the way if one encounters unforeseen challenges. It is making decisions quickly using experience, gut and intuition. There is rarely a time that 100% of the information will be available to make a decision, so one must use what one has, make the decision and then “make it right.”
4. Looking out for others
It is called Camaraderie. You uplift the weakest point in the chain because you can’t afford to let the chain break. It is stepping up without request to help others because one is for the mission and not personal gain.
It is being conditioned to seek additional tasking, go above and beyond, and complete tasks with haste and minimal guidance or direction. If one is clear on the task, he/she will drive it all the way home and surpass expectations.
It means one can be counted on to complete complex tasks. One does this with a different mindset and skill.
7. Professional Presence
Professional appearance and presence are important. Clean-cut, neat hair, shaven, clothes ironed, shoes polished, eye contact when talking to people, walk with great posture, remain aware of one’s surroundings and greet others in passing.
What do We Expect from the New Leader?
Research has shown that when transition takes place, there are expectations by the followers from the leader. Some of these expectations are realistic while some are not realistic. Here are some possible expectations the convention family is expecting from the new leader:
- Communication: Someone said, communication is the basis of life. Every media that can aid effective communication must be employed. Successful leaders communicated the “what” and the “why” of their actions. Leaders who explain the purpose of vision and connect it organisation’s values or explain the benefits create stronger buy-in and urgency for the vision.
- Collaboration: Bringing people together to plan and execute vision is critical. Successful leaders work across boundaries, encourage stakeholders to break out of their shells and think out of the box. They also include employees in decision-making and strengthen their commitment to the vision.
- Commitment: Successful leaders make sure their own beliefs and behaviors support vision and change too. Change is difficult, but leaders who will negotiate it successfully must be resilient, persistent and willing to step outside their comfort zone. They must also devote more of their own time to the change effort and focus on the big picture.
- God oriented leader: He must beGod conscious and aware. He must be sensitive to God so as to lead us with the mind of God; an unbroken relationship with God; a consistent prayer life; a high level of Word bank. Must be a person with good character, teachable, called by God for this purpose, emotionally stable and balanced (he needs it to cope with the demands of office). He must be balanced in Spiritual, Family, Marriage, Financial, Personal growth, Physical, Social and Professional areas of life.
- Purpose oriented leader
The following must be evident in the leader: action oriented, risk taking, change agent, committed and disciplined, responsible, effective and efficient, motivated, tenacity and persistence, uncomplicated, decisive and trans visionary.
- People oriented leader
As a people oriented leader, the following should be visible: he must be exemplary (set an example for people to follow, model the way, his life should preach a better sermon than his lips). He must be sensitive and discerning (understand people around him, sensitive to our cultures, sensitive to feelings, sensitive to abilities, sensitive to weaknesses, sensitive to potentials). He must be honest, credible, trustworthy, creative, serve with humility, loyal, listen and communicate. People should take precedence over projects and programmes.
- Must be a team builder
He must work with all and sundry: work with Baptist Building staff, work with the Churches, work with the Associations, work with the Conferences, work with members of the Executive Committee of the Convention.
- Servant leader: Lead people with the Spirit of humility
- Visionary leader: Taking people where they should go and not where they want to go. The ability to look ahead prudently with the benefit of the hindsight.
- Must be a leader with a listening ear, one who is accessible: Empathy with the people by giving them a listening ear. One is accessible to all irrespective of status and position.
What does the New Leader expect from Us?
- Acceptance: We must be open to accept the new leader as our leader.
- Their President
- Your president
- Our President
- My president
- Unalloyed loyalty
- Genuine loyalty
He expects us to pay our cooperative dues to the Convention, Conference and Association. He expects that individuals, churches, companies etc. will partner with the Convention in actualising her goals. Faithfulness from every Baptist in paying our tithes to the churches, faithfulness of churches paying cooperative dues so that the ministry will advance.
- Partnership: We should come forward and with him to actualise his dreams and visions. He needs burden bearers, vision carriers and dream birthers.
- Respect and honour: We should see him as our leader and give him the respect due his office. The way we respect him is the way outsiders will respect him.
- Critique and not criticise him: We should point out shortcomings with solutions in a manner that is welcoming and respectful.
- Trust: We should trust him as he trusts God to lead him.
- Not to be resistant to change.
How do we receive the new leader?
- Prayerfully: In the attitude and mood of prayer
- Publicly and Privately: Openly and in our closet
- Purposefully: Thank God for the leader He is giving us
- Patiently: We have to be patient with him till he fully adjusts
Throughout periods of change, which is just about all the time for a good organisation, leaders need to concentrate on having their people go from change avoidance to change acceptance. There are five steps accompanying change (Conner, 1993):
- Denial — cannot foresee any major changes.
- Anger — aversion at others for what they’re putting me through.
- Bargaining — working out solutions and keeping everyone happy.
- Depression — doubt and worry set in.
- Acceptance — reality sets in, we must change or die.
This is why people’s first reaction to transition is often to resist it. People get comfortable performing tasks and processes in a particular manner. This comfort provides them with the security that they are the masters of their environment. Some of the things that cause them to fear transition include a dislike of a disruption in their lives, not being able to adapt and learn, jobs might become harder, and a loss of control.
Leaders can help the change process by changing their followers’ attitude from avoidance into acceptance.
The essence of this paper is to prepare us for the leadership transition that will take place in the Nigerian Baptist Convention. I hope it has done so.
- Conner, D. (1993). Managing at the Speed of Change. New York: Random House. Note: He based his model on Death and Dying by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
- Klepper, S. (1997). Industry life cycles. Industrial and Corporate Change, 6(1), 145-182.
- Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social science. New York: Harper & Row.
- Roethlisberger, F.J., Dickson, W.J. (1939). Management and the Worker. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.