The Ego Contest Among Student Leaders: A Detriment to Effective Leadership

By: Oluwapelumi King

The essentiality of student leadership has always been to advocate for the betterment of students.; representing their interests and fighting for their rights. However, in recent times, student leadership has become more of a facade laced with personal agendas and ego contests. Now, student leaders are more concerned with being the most influential rather than being effective.

Recently, a ridiculous list of the top 10 ‘most influential’ students at UI was released allegedly from a 100-level student. This list which seems to have been orchestrated toward the upcoming Students’ Union elections has been met with discontent from Uites on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter. The list was largely considered childish and unnecessary. 

However, lists like this are mostly subjective, even by major newspapers and magazines. Forbes, one of the world’s most prominent magazines, has been criticized for the subjectivity of their lists. Some have even claimed that Forbes’ lists are sometimes political and paid for by individuals to be included in the list. It is quite shocking that student leaders and political stalwarts in UI that should be rather focused on governance and not positions have issues with that subjective list, which was solely based on the experience and observations of the person who compiled it.

Furthermore, the list is inconsequential. Most people care about effectiveness in their positions, and not influence. Great leaders are remembered for their effectiveness, not their influence. For example, Ojo Aderemi is not remembered for being the most influential but for being one of the most effective. The uproar over an inconsequential list shows just how “effective” the students’ leadership is.

Student leadership have become an ego contest and a self-serving competition. It is apparent that most of these leaders are there to build CVs and serve their own interests. A majority of them cannot boast of at least two notable things they have done since assuming those positions. Yet, they are still concerned with being regarded as the most influential. This shows a deep-seated ego and pride that has always existed in the student leadership structure and has caused damage to the students they represent.

Egoism exists in the mainstream world also. Politicians and leaders in various government positions throw up huge tantrums for not being on top of a list, and some even issue press releases expressing their discontent and claiming bias. It is shameful that student leaders have now become what they criticize.

The focus of student leadership has shifted from being the voice of the students to becoming an ego contest and self-serving competition. The recent uproar over an inconsequential list shows the deep-seated ego and pride that has always existed in the student leadership structure, causing damage to the students they represent.

Effective leadership is not about being the most influential but about making a positive impact. Student leaders should let go of their pride and ego and focus on serving the interests of the students they represent. The existence of egoism and pride among student leadership will not only taint the current student leadership but also add to the existential crisis that exists among various student leaders. Therefore, a leader who has been chosen to lead should be humble, understanding that they are first a servant before they are a leader.

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