Solanke: Pillars Of Disempowerment - Nigeria, Laying Out Barriers Of Failure?

08 June 2012

By Abdul-Warees Solanke

SHOW me a man or a woman stunted or crippled in his career and I will plot for you his graph of failure. Point me a manager or an executive outsmarted or outplayed in the boardroom politics and I will relate to you his tales of indiscretion. It is normal that when we get things wrong, things just won't go right for us. This is a law of nature. That is why we are often counselled to be focused, to be sincere, to plan and be SMART in whatever we do. Our libraries and bookshelves are crowded with motivational books; we pray and work hard; we scheme and strategise and yet a lot still beaten silly by rain even as they hold umbrellas over their heads. A lot still go hungry while being spoon fed. A lot still thirst for water while swimming in a whirlpool.

My understanding is that opportunities exist, even in a vacuum, after all nature abhors vacuum and it is our responsibility to make something happen when there is nothing. We owe ourselves the duty to succeed in the face of all odds. For, all our faculties, when properly deployed are meant to solve our problems. So why do many of us lament of being cheated when we lay out barriers of failure and erect pillars of disempowerment on our own paths?

The first of such pillars is in the application of wrong ethics in our private and public lives. No one labelled as having a deficit of integrity is ever called to serious assignment or responsibility. We just allow him to float on the job caring less whether he reaches a destination or not. And when it's time to right-size in a corporate setting, he becomes the best candidate from the bottom to be shaved off. He may never cross the bridge of salvation in difficult moments of decision. He is the first victim of corporate restructuring or re-engineering, public sector reform and other reform jargons that spell the reality of reducing the workforce.

This first pillar, application of wrong ethics in dealing with people and situations finds expression, strength and support in the other pillars. The corollary to taking up an appointment or assuming a responsibility is the attitude of commitment or self-application. Unfortunately, no sooner than some are called to serve do they forget the pledge of hard work and loyalty to the organization they made while swearing to oaths of secrecy or allegiance before God and man. Easily, they are crushed by what I call the pillar of abandonment of responsibility in their attitude to work as they moonlight, gallivant or gossip around their offices, leaving their work to suffer. No boss in his right sense would give a recommendation of top five per cent or distinction to a subordinate who always disappoint or does not deliver on his assignment as expected. He cannot be trusted, so he cannot be given opportunity to grow to reach his full potential. A careless and irresponsible worker will not always be lucky when his godfather is out of relevance. He is a candidate of job insecurity in the moment of rationalisation.

If such an irresponsible worker bootlicks or pays in kind to get to the top, he will soon be buried in the rubbles of another pillar that will crash on him in his abdication of authority, because while rising to the top, he did not gain the mastery of his vocation nor did he understand the depth and dynamics of his job. He will always (and usually this is the cheap way to cover up his inadequacy), claim to be delegating power and authority to his subordinates. For him, anything goes since he never really learnt the rope in his rise to power. Indirectly, his subordinates are his grace and masters. He possesses no moral right to lay claim to being a boss.

However, if a worker knows his onions very well, but in his application of wrong ethics on the job, he abuses opportunities and privileges, his growth will also be limited. This is the case of those guilty of opportunism. How can a man who exploits the system or others to achieve his own end benefit the system or those working with him? When his tricks are discovered, he will ever be blacklisted in the minds of others and those that hold the sword to determine the workers' fate. This pillar of abuse of opportunities is the one that sounds the death knell of many workers, with promising career prospects, very brilliant or intelligent, yet lack discretion on their beats. Labelled as smart guys, they are usually the worst victims in the chess board corporate politics. They are consumed in the inferno of difficult choices, decisions and changes.

Another heavy pillar capable of crushing a high flier on the job is that arrogation of knowledge and rejection of team value. The victims are usually the best guys on the job. Such smart but unfortunate guys find comfort in being called Prof or derisively labelled effico. King Solomon among their peers and subordinates, they can be found in all work settings. They trust only their own judgement, listening to no one else but themselves, and using their personal lenses, whether wide or myopic, to view what others around them do have to offer.

You never can satisfy them as they raise their bars of expectation to the clouds. They are usually not at their best when working in a team, or they almost always hijack the team to take all the glory in a joint effort, eroding the confidence of their mates, bad mouthing others efforts as below standard.

The job is therefore left for them as they lack the cooperative, collaborative or consultative spirit that gives every other contributor a sense of fulfilment, achievement or pride. Their trademark is I, I, I, revelling in self-glorification. They may be intelligent, but are certainly unpopular because of their tendency or their sin of arrogation. They are very poor in team spirit. In the intense heat of boardroom politics, they become the victims of gang-up and when other contenders want to deal with them, they do not hesitate to taking their names to marabouts and satanic herbalists. Don't be surprised such managers are confined to dark corners of their offices when the repercussion of their overbearing or supercilious attitude and style begins to bear fruit.

Pity not those who fail in life for their indiscretions on the job and in their relationship with superiors and subordinates, because they are the carvers of their self-destruct pillars which collapsed on them and buried them in the rubbles of corporate politics.

Abdul-Warees is the Head of Training, Voice of Nigeria, Ikoyi, Lagos, (  , ) 08090585723



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