Oby Ezekwesili’s analysis of sycophancy in the out-going Jonathan’s administration has been making the rounds in the media, though her comment is about governance, it is also relevant for leaders – in business, entertainment, career etc.
According to Webster’s New World Dictionary. A sycophant is “a person who seeks favor by flattering people of wealth or influence”.
Sycophancy is not a word we use every day but it is an act we are all too familiar with, we see it happening every day, at work, on social media, in business and even in our families. In today’s world we call sycophants – ass-lickers, praise singers, yes-men, butt-kissers etc
As a woman in leadership position here are the lessons I have learned;
1. Believe in yourself and your ability to lead – You will open the door to sycophants and flatterers if you are in constant need of validation from others. They will tell you what you want to hear to get what they want.
2. Surround yourself with people who can tell you the truth no matter what – Don’t build a culture that makes people afraid of expressing their concerns and using their initiatives. Don’t reward the “yes men” and then punish the people who dare to speak the truth.
3. Be the leader indeed – You are the boss, take the lead. Work with experts and make decisions without waffling or wavering, let people know there are consequences for acting on your behalf without your approval. Not setting clear boundaries when it comes to who is in charge is not humility it is stupidity.
4. Be a hands-on leader – Don’t just act based on assumptions and speculations, do thorough findings, get involved too! Don’t be detached from critical issues just because you have assigned someone to it, demand to know the true picture of things without sugar-coating.
5. Sycophants and flatterers will come and go – When you fail, they will go. Don’t let people destroy your work and reputation, don’t go down in history as a leader who misused a great opportunity.
Below is the statement from Oby Ezekwesili as seen on her twitter page;
“When a review of President Jonathan’s administration is done, we’ll realize how much damage sycophancy did to governance. Example? Chibok Girls”
“A leader must be without an inordinate desire to be serenaded with ‘good news’ or their team will never let them know the true state of affairs.
“An environment that rewards sycophancy encourages team to withhold accurate ‘bad’ news (problems) from the leader while serving up ‘good news’.
“When a leader makes hero worshiping costly to those who engage in it, he/she deprives the ‘sellers’ market to set the ‘Mediocrity Benchmark.’
“A critical success factor in governance is for the leader to both in word and deed convey a culture that abhors sycophancy. No hero worshiping.”