Is leadership a job or a calling?

How can you tell if someone holding a ‘leadership’ position is there merely for the job or as a calling?

Check what interest drives him or her. My book, Lead for Life, addresses the types of interest.

No one can lead, let alone lead for life, unless he or she understands and comes into leadership with a strong appreciation and commitment to a healthy sense of interest.

Interest is a kind of powerful, magnetic or pulling force; something one feels he or she is ‘born’ to be and/or to do. This can be selfish or selfless.

The type of interest you commit to will determine whether you are merely holding down a job or in a ‘calling’.

For leadership to be a calling, you are there to serve a purpose larger than your own narrow interest. It is not about the pure expression of power, activism or heroism around certain causes or social values. It is not about a position, or standing in an exposed place. Rather, it is about a pattern of behavior or sequence of moments in which you consistently step into ‘the space’ to be counted or to solve collective problems in an upright manner.

Unlike the ‘smart’ rulers who are attracted by the ‘power’ of the positions and for whom the burden of public affairs must produce its own instant material reward, persons with a lead for life (ala selfless) interest are drawn to the act of leading sometimes even with a sense of reluctance. There is no allurement from personal success, social rank, formal power, or instant gratification. Rather, the pulling factor is about making a positive difference – lifting people/nations up.

Share your thoughts.


Author: Professor Paul Omojo Omaji

Paul Omojo Omaji is a Professor of Criminology and Vice Chancellor Emeritus. He trained in Sociology, Criminology, and Law in Nigeria and Australia. He has researched, published and lectured in these fields for about 30 years across Nigeria, Australia, Singapore, India, South Africa, the US, Canada and Sweden. Professor Omaji has had over 40 years of community and professional leadership experiences. These include senior executive positions in Australian Government public service and as an official at all levels in the university system, culminating in his appointment as a pioneer Vice Chancellor of a private University. Professor Omaji is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Omaji Leadership Solutions and the Virtuous Leaders Development Network.

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