Mr Linus Okorie
Linus Okorie is a leadership consultant, founder and president of Guardians of the Nation International, a leadership development non-profit organization. He is the managing consultant of New Vision Consults; a company in the business of developing institution leaders. He is a conference speaker and a regular guest in many print media, radio, and television platforms across Nigeria. He is the radio host of “The Leadership Clinic”.
He shares on corporate leadership, personal leadership and political leadership in this exclusive interview.
You are an entrepreneur, a consultant, a speaker, a husband and a father. Your resume is quite intimidating, how do you manage all that?
The most important thing for me is having to balance the things that I do; no matter how busy I am, I create time for family and I also make out time to deal with my mentees and also pursuing my mentors as the case may be-it’s just about creating a balance.
You are an ardent advocate of leadership; what’s leadership?
For me, leadership is an opportunity to influence and impact a society in a very positive way; leadership is about making a difference in the lives of people, in the life of communities, in the life of an organization, in the life of businesses, in the life of teams and in the life of institutions for the sake of the common good.
What does it mean to lead from the GRAVE?
The concept of leading from the GRAVE is by each individual; the day we were all born, we actually cried but we should live our lives in such a way that when we are no more, the people will cry, they will miss us tremendously. It means that even when we leave this world after fulfilling our purpose, specifically, the quality of our impact in the lives of people and society is so huge that we will leave a name behind.
So, when our name is mentioned doors are flaunt open for good; we leave a name behind for our children, our friends as a resource that they can tap into. It’s a concept of legacy and if you asked a lot of people on the earth, people who have influenced their lives, you’ll hear names like Martin Luther King Jnr., Mother Teresa and some other outstanding leaders.
“The reason nations are poor, institutions are weak, family values are degrading, companies are folding and individuals are not growing even in the face of great human material and natural resources is simply due to lack of servant leadership attributes.” Do you think that’s the case with Nigeria?
Yes, it’s absolutely the case with Nigeria. I mean since independence, we’ve had this challenge of quality leadership that’s pan Nigerian; quality leadership that can inspire us to think about how we can help Nigeria to make progress. We’ve had self celebration of selfishness like never before, celebration of greed; these are all anti leadership standards. If we want to make progress as a nation, there must be a heart to serve by those who take decisions on behalf of the common good.
Anytime anyone is in charge of an organization, anytime anyone is responsible for taking decisions on behalf of any institution, it’s the responsibility of that individual to be able to serve that organization first before anything else. With that kind of leadership, ‘self’ is put under a lot of restrain and then, people do a lot of things because it will be for public good and if people do things for public good and those things are excellent things, you’d experience prosperity and growth naturally. If our country must make progress; it’s the responsibility of leaders to grow to a point where they can begin to inspire society; help people to make progress, rather than keep them in obscurity. For me, that’s the way to go.
Speaking of Nigeria, there is no way you can talk about a nation without the political leadership; do you think Nigeria has the right leadership that’s needed to deliver a better tomorrow?
The truth of the matter is that, if you talk about leadership with Nigeria; the Nigerian context is not just from the presidency; you require a critical mass of people even at the state level, the local government level, the National Assembly for you to drive the transformation that’s needed at the time in our country. But currently, I can tell you that we only have a few human beings in this public system who have good qualities, who have a sense of vision and a sense of commitment to make a difference for the sake of the common good, and that’s why there’s so much of not too much of progress over a period of time.
I’m advocating for quality men and women of honor, vision, courage and integrity to begin like never before to aspire to become leaders-political leaders in every sector of the political space as the case may be, from the local government level to the state level even to the federal level. The reason why I’m saying this is that, if you have a lot more people in the public space who are thinking for the common good, then you’ll begin to see that quality of service will grow, there will be excellent service all over the country.
People will begin to serve the public good and when people begin to serve the public good rather self, then you will see development; real development will begin to happen and then the people on the street, the average Nigerians will be able to at least enjoy the fruit of the wealth of our country-that’s actually the common wealth of our country.
Let’s talk about your ministry. You are the founder and president of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI). Do you mind sharing your vision, your mission and your achievements so far?
Sixteen years ago, as a high school student about entering the university, I came across a chapter in the bible call Nehemiah and I was so inspired by that story; how one person began a process of transforming his community from a comfort zone. He left the comfort zone towards mobilizing recourses and people to be able to rebuild the walls of his community that was broken down. I was quite inspired by that and I thought to myself, why don’t I begin the process of grooming leaders for Nigeria.
Then, I started thinking about everything that I could have that could encourage and inspire me to take this dream to the next level; I started looking for mentors all over the place and I was advised appropriately and I started an organization committed to the grooming of quality leadership capital across all segment of the youth population. That means every young person who is under 40 years from high school, university, youth service corps and professionals under 40 must have a chance to be trained and groomed to be able to make progress, because I thought that nations of the world that have really made great progress were nations that invested in the leadership capacity of their young people, Singapore did that.
When Singapore did that many years ago, we were at par with them in terms of growth and development. They didn’t have anything like oil, what they did was that they began to invest in their young people; their human capital and after many years of doing that see what Singapore has become. Nigeria with oil didn’t take that opportunity to invest in her own young people and now what we have is garbage in garbage out.
The Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI) commitment, is to ensure that Nigeria witnesses transformation, because leaders have been deliberately groomed. So, at the heart of the work of GOTNI is advocacy for good and quality people to begin to penetrate into the leadership space, especially the political space and probably the private sector. The very big idea is the work of grooming young people from their early ages to be able to think like leaders.
That’s what GOTNI has done for this past sixteen years and we’ve had over 40, 000 young people go through our various leadership programs and some of these young people have become managers in institutions and they are all upcoming and I can tell you that in the next couple of years, the people GOTNI have groomed will be quality men and women who will be driving policies for Nigeria-I’m looking forward to the time when GOTNI members will be ripe to go into the public space.
Tell us more about GOTNI Leadership Clinic?
The GOTNI Leadership Clinic is basically a professional program in GOTNI for the very best of professionals across board and we normally bring in inspirational people to come and inspire this team of professionals. The leadership Clinic program has both radio and a television version, where leadership is thought through television and radio. This is just one of the fifteen brands of GOTNI.
What about GOTNI Creative Enterprise Leadership Program?
The GOTNI Creative Enterprise is teaching leadership in a fun way. How is it like teaching leadership through music? Teaching leadership through comedy and teaching leadership through shooting of movies? Imagine hugely funded great films with nice leadership stories for young people to watch, that can be transformational in nature.
You talk a lot about Dr. King, his he your mentor or role model?
Dr. King represented many things that I think is necessary for society to make progress, even in times of difficulties and in times of challenges. It requires visionary leaders to be able to see the future and in the process of seeing the future, they begin to mobilize other people to that future because they’ve seen it first. And then, they determine to stay on course in the process of actualizing that vision.
Martin Luther’s staying power was what inspired me; his ability to create a culture before a movement; his ability to teach people specific core values. He engaged in non-violent movement and he was able to help transform a system. When I went to America, I went to Atlanta and I saw some of his greatest writings and his personal belongings, I was just so inspired, people say we look alike, thank God, but I think we are connected somehow.
If Linus Okorie is not reading or speaking, what does he do with his spare time?
I do a lot of reading, and most time I’m sharing with family or swimming; that relaxes me a lot and apart from that I make phone calls.
In your book FOOTPRINTS, you said we need men of vision to lead Nigeria. Do you see such men in 2015?
Absolutely! I’m challenging the system already; I’m asking people who care to listen, anybody who thinks he has vision to lead this country, I expect them to begin to come out, let us have a more robust alternatives so that we can engage them properly and see who has the capacity to take Nigeria to the next level.
I think Nigeria has a lot of visionary people; it’s just that a lot of them are not in the public space and my expectation is for more of the visionary people in this country to join the public space. The more people we have in the public space who are visionary, the better it’s for our country to make the kind of quality progress it deserves.
Where do you see Nigeria in ten years time?
If Nigeria gets it right with the current leadership; I mean if the current leadership begin to lead by example and begin to set the right standards and begin to pursue the human capital dimension of leadership development and begin to do the right things in the right places, I can assure you that Nigeria will be one of the greatest nations on earth, because the opportunities are all clear.
What role do you think Linus Okorie will play in the emergence of a better Nigeria?
I have already started playing my role, right from when I was head boy in high school to when I was Student Union President in the University, and with all my work in the country, in terms of mobilizing the very best of young Nigerians.
Recently the U.S government nominated me among twenty two leaders around the world to come and visit the United States in their program that is titled International Visitors Initiative; it’s about finding young people in nations that could contribute to the future of their country like never before, and my contribution to this nation has been huge and I’m still ready to contribute more!
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