It requires much more than your own life-long stance on a commitment to quality leadership for you to have the courage and seemingly foolhardy perseverance to want to talk about re-orienting the people on the quality of leadership that will thrive in Nigerian. This essay examines different types of leadership and discovers that with her present challenges and inconsistencies, Nigeria is best suited for a leadership that is in the interest of the people. The attainment of maximum development, according to this paper, is dependent on the quality of leadership that is operational in a country. The essay concludes that until we have a leadership that is truly in the interest of the people, the development will remain a mirage in Nigeria for a very long time to come.

Keywords: Leadership style, types of leadership, autocratic leadership style, democratic leadership style, laissez faire leadership style, transactional leadership style, transformational leadership style, the best leadership style for Nigeria, conclusion.


In Nigeria, while everyone is anxious to know what democracy has brought to the table, there continues to be a growing concern about the capacity of the leadership obtainable in our country to define the welfare of the people. We talk of quality leadership when we mean deliberate and fundamental steps towards long term desire to manage the art of governance to move development.

Leadership involves the methods or techniques used by a leader in a particular situation in order to arrive at group goals or objectives. It is the science and psychology of leading and directing the affairs of a group of people. The way a leader uses power will show his leadership style. Obisi (1996) opined that the leadership style of a leader can only be earned. He asserted that the style of a leader cannot be forced, conferred or bought. To strengthen this, let us put it that leadership style is used to describe the manner in which someone exercises leadership, especially in relation to their treatment of people and tasks (Jacob, 2004; Lawal, 1993).

By this leadership is understood as different operational methods adopted in different places and situations to achieve certain goals. Here, it is clear that every people and location need a particular leadership style that will suit them, based on the complexities in people and the environment. That is why even countries that were formerly colonized by other countries, once they break the ruling ties with their colonizers, change their leadership styles to suit their situations.

Before we talk about a leadership style that will thrive in Nigeria, there is the need to look briefly at different types of leadership before we pass the verdict.

Types of Leadership  

Base on the traditional method of leadership style, we have the following:

Autocratic Style of Leadership: 

This is the type of leadership where leaders use threats or punishment in getting things done. The power here is centralized and decision making is solely at the centre whereas the subordinates comply with what they are instructed to do. Here, the leader doesn’t trust the subordinates and does not consult them in decision making. An autocratic leader is always drummed ready to make decisions without prior discussion and exchange of ideas. The statement often heard by such a leader is “… I have decided that this course of action is the best for our country. And I want everybody to accept and implement it. Anyone who does otherwise do so at his or her risk”…

Obisi (1996) asserts that such leadership succeeds because any decision taken is passed quickly in the presence of the leader but dropped the moment he turns his back.

Democratic Style of Leadership: 

This is where leaders give their subordinates chances to participate and contribute to decision making by bringing ideas. The subordinates seek advice, give room for feedback and allow free flow of information. Here, rewards rather than threats of punishments are used to motivate subordinates (Lawal, 1993:125).

Democratic leadership style is the opposite of autocratic leadership where powers are decentralised and new ideas and changes are welcomed to improve productivity.

Decision making here is slower because leaders have to give reasons or explain certain decisions taken (Lawal, 1993:132).

Laissez Faire Style of Leadership: 

This is the combination of autocratic and democratic style where the leader plays a passive role rather in participation and in the individual decision (Otokiti, 2004:155). Here, leaders act as umpires and coordinators of information and are convinced that each person does his best when left to work in his own way. According to (Otokiti, 2004), this style of leadership is considered better than the authoritarian leadership style but may not be effective as a democratic style.

On the modern leadership style of leadership, we have:

Transactional Leadership Style: 

This style involves a correspondence between the leader and subordinates on daily basis (Idowu, 2003). Such leaders are said to be patient, purposeful, listening and conscious of priorities. This style rewards exceptional contributions from subordinates and intervene when there is deviation standard. According to Schultz and Duane, 2010, this leadership promotes compliance of his followers through both rewards and punishments. The exchange between the leaders and followers determines the reward and punishment for the task. 

Transformational Leadership Style: 

This type changes the belief system of subordinates. Leaders in this case transform their followers to become leaders themselves as it createsvaluable and positive change in the followers. These can be achieved through Idealised influence (Charismatic); Inspirational motivation; Intellectual stimulation and Individualised consideration.

Having examined critically these types of leadership style, we have arguably come to the conclusion that the democratic system of leadership is better practised in Nigeria for the following reasons.

The best Leadership Style for Nigeria 

Nigeria is a heterogeneous nation: A democratic rule where powers are centralised to the subordinates to make their decisions and contributions for the growth of the society, a heterogeneous nation like Nigeria will thrive well, and as a matter of fact is doing well in that leadership style.

This is because there are over 200 tribes and cultures and traditions of the people living in Nigeria that each culture is strange to the other. So, if a leader at the apex of government, for instance,wants a decision to be passed across the country, these people with different cultural and religious background have to be consulted, their views taken into consideration before the decision stands, thus a democratic leadership is in practice.

For instance, the cores northern Muslims of Nigeria prohibit the consumption of alcohol as their Sharia laws are uphold. Whereas, the southern people of Nigeria like Tiv, Ibo and Ijaw take alcohol to high esteem that they include it in their marriage requirements. So, when considering a decision on alcohol whether or not it should be consumed in Nigeria, the decision has to be put to vote, thus a democratic process ensues. 

Another example of different cultures of Nigeria is on adultery. The southern people of Nigeria like the Tiv people consider penalties like giving a big he-goat, drinks, and a huge amount of money to the woman whose nakedness is seen when a man is caught sleeping with her, the core northern Sharia Muslims prescribe amputation of the arm, plucking of the eye or cutting of a leg or sentenced to death by stoning for someone who commits adultery. As such, these divergent cultures with their respective laws are known and respected even by the president of the country and that can only be found in a democratic rule which we practice.

The densely populated country like Nigeria can only thrive under a democratic rule. Here, Nigeria is estimated to have over 180 million people, the most populations black country, and when a decision is to be taken by the leaders of the country, because they are not everywhere at all times, the ‘majority carries the vote’ slogan comes in. Here, the leaders make consultations from the masses on what it should be and what not to be in form of opinion polls, not the autocratic type where leaders assume for the populace. An example of this is seen when states were proposed to be created during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The peoples’representatives in government and traditional and religious leaders were asked to go home and engage in an opinion poll and find out where new states were to be created and why, unlike the military autocratic times of their General MutalaMuhammed and General Ibrahim Bdamasi Babangida who created states arbitrary favouring some zones, and they left others crying. That is why the UN resolution in 1998 that all countries in the world should return to democratic rule, which Nigeria started in 1999, is said to be one of the best breakthroughs of leadership for a densely populated nation, Nigeria where each individual now has a say, at least through vote.

The largeness of Nigeria and a technological knowhow is still some impediments for any other form of leadership in the country, apart from democratic rule to thrive. This is because, Nigeria is very large that it is divided into six geo-political zones, South-South, South-East, South-West, North-Central,North-East and North-West with the least zone, South-East having five states.

Each of these geo-political zones can be a country of its own base on landmass and population, as such;decision taken in this large country has to go through a bureaucratic process to reach each region, state and local government or even villages. This is achieved through decentralisation of powers to subordinates governments who reach out to the remote parts of the country through their votedand chosen representatives who bring feedback to the central government. And in this way, we manage to thrive, otherwise, there are remote areas in the country where even information cannot easily reach. Why? This is where the technological knowhow comes in. 

The network providers, radio stations and worst, TV stations cannot reach some parts of the country, but humans do, so if is for instance the unitary leadership style is in practice, some villagers may or may not even know that a certain leader is dead or ousted for a long time thus affecting itsoperational system. But in a democratic setting, information -either man to man or whatever means is circulated across the country ahead of time, like the election. If flood or any natural disaster is experienced at a particular region where elections are to hold for instance, the leaders can do some adjustments on the time table to carry everyone along since every citizen’s opinion matters in a democratic setting.


Thus, in conclusion, a democratic leadership, which is currently been practiced in Nigeria is the best form of leadership base on the factors discussed about and others that may be considered later in the subsequent discuss. For twenty years plus now, since 1999, Nigeria thrives in growth and development irrespective of the few shortcomings found in the process of governance like corruption, negligence of duty, laxity and all sorts, democratic rule is still the best, and is still thriving, and can be do even better in Nigeria base on the pros and cons weighed where the advantages of the democratic leadership experienced in the country overshadow the disadvantages.   

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