Crucibles of Leadership: Extracting The Leadership Gold

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Leadership Panorama With DR. MARIUS O. ADENIYI

At no other time in the history of effective leadership has adaptability to changing times during adverse leadership moments been more pertinent than it is now. There is a well-known Chinese proverb that says that the wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.

Wait pundits! Don’t slice and dice this proverb to mean content with the status quo. Absolutely, No! There’s no gainsaying the fact that discontent is the first necessity of progress. But, In the 21st century world, leadership grapples with vicissitudes of daily life, organizational dynamics, unpredictable events both favorable and unfavorable at all levels of governance.

The art of leadership cannot also be likened to a straight road devoid of curves and bends. As a matter of facts, there are always seasons of bends and harsh experiences in leadership.
Most of us accidentally find ourselves in difficult situations at some points in our lives.

We may be undertaking new tasks, confronting new challenges and battling with tough duties in uncharted territories. In each of these cases, there are heightened stakes for success or failure as leaders. Why others will fail, grumble and complain, extraordinary leaders extract gold from these crucibles to conquer adversity and emerge stronger than ever.

Ponder over the most horrible learning experiences of your life. What were they like? Were they gentle, easy and tough experiences? Or did they demand that you use every fiber of your strength and every bit of your intellect to self-regulate and master the situation? These experiences are called “crucibles”.
Robert Thomas an international Leadership expert defines crucible as “a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or altered sense of identity.”

Leadership crucibles are big tests, tough trials and Augean challenges that come as transformational tools for 21st century emerging leaders to crystallize and maximize their leadership potentials when “gold” is extracted from those crucibles.

Leaders need to develop adaptive mechanism to adjust those changing times without adjusting their core values and principles. Adaptable Leadership is about being ready for change. While you may have an end-goal and a basic strategy to reach it, the path you plan to take is not set in stone. Detours and unforeseen circumstances should be welcomed and viewed as opportunities. As Charles Darwin rightly put it, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives, it is the one that is most adaptable to change”.

Crucibles set stage for adaptation. We are forced to develop new competencies that prepare us for future challenges. Our capacity to change hinges on our ability to think exploratively and creatively look at problems and proffer unconventional solutions.

Adaptable leaders make the most of such change and take advantage of such moments. Like Winston Churchill former British prime minister once said “There is opportunity in every calamity”. Leadership crucibles always serve as springboards for greater achievements when the golds are extracted.

The capability to gain wisdom from challenging experiences distinguishes successful leaders from unsuccessful leaders. Extraordinary Leaders have the understanding that crucibles that are traumatic and HURT, hasn’t come to OBSTRUCT but rather INSTRUCT them in order to CONSTRUCT a better and more proactive leader out of them.

Authentic Leaders have the assurance that every cloud has a silver lining and beyond the cloud is the sun still shining.


  1. Accepting the reality of the crucibles; Extracting leadership gold begins with accepting the reality of the situation and move on. Do not waste time feeling stuck and overwhelmed.
  2. Taking Responsibility for the crucibles; Responsibility is the price of greatness like Winston Churchill once opined. Instead of blaming others for the crucibles, respond to it in a positive manner and channel your energy in the right direction.
  3. Accommodating all Negative Feedbacks; Leadership crucibles are not a judgment of your abilities. It is a response to your actions telling you to make the better use of your abilities the next time.
  4. Adaptive Mechanism: H.G Wells once wrote: “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative” in an age of rapid change, how well a leader embraces shifts and uses them to enhance the organization’s trajectory can be a vital measure of effectiveness.
  5. Focusing on the Future; Learn what you can from the past and quickly shift to applying those lessons to the future. You can’t change the past, and lingering on it may contribute to making the challenge seem even worse. The future, however, is always filled with possibilities and opportunities.


Conflicts, challenges and crisis all contribute to crucible moments. These crucibles may become a defining moment in Leadership provided lessons are drawn from these experiences. Don’t forget that Experience is not just what happens to a man. It is also what a man does with what happens to him.

When you are open to learning, unlearning and relearning from mistakes, problems and failures, you become a better and reliable, effective and authentic leader that extract “gold” from leadership crucibles.

Dr. Marius Olusola Adeniyi is a Public Health and Leadership Expert.
You can contact him through:
Mobile: 08074294379
Twitter: @drmariusadeniyi

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