Leadership behaviour and practical implications for sustainable agricultural and rural development in Nigeria
Rural development projects in Nigeria in the sixties were compartmentalized. This piecemeal or sectoral approach later gave way, in the seventies, to a diversified, multi-agency rural development strategy known as the Integrated Rural Development approach. Government at various levels was the prime mover and animator of most agricultural rural development projects in Nigeria, as they played management roles, and in the process, encouraged mass involvement and participation, especially by beneficiary communities. This paper reviews leadership behaviour as a crucial management tool for creating a conducive work climate that would support a strong group dynamics, and ultimately lead to the achievement of programme objectives. Theories that explain leadership behaviour, which are capable of generating mass and purposeful followership, or engendering discontentment or fissures within groups or organizations, are discussed. Democratic leadership style, which takes advantage of the capacities of all members of the group, is considered most suitable for implementing agricultural and rural development projects. The paper recommends that leaders involve their followers in decision making, delegate functions when necessary, and motivate their followers, in order to generate and sustain the interest of the group in contributing to the success of group projects. Female members of the group who possess leadership traits should not play subordinate roles, but should be encouraged and given the opportunity to actualize their leadership potentialities.
Keywords: Leadership orientation, Rural development, Group decision, Followership