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Leaders and choices

leaders, Choices, positive attitude, strategy

Most leadership failures are traceable to poor choices. Poor choices made by leaders result in bad decisions which lead to undesirable results. How strong, stable and successful a company gets is determined by how sound and profound its choices are. The prosperity or otherwise of a nation is an indication of the kind of choices […]

Leaders and choices
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Leaders and choices

leaders, Choices, positive attitude, strategy

Most leadership failures are traceable to poor choices. Poor choices made by leaders result in bad decisions which lead to undesirable results. How strong, stable and successful a company gets is determined by how sound and profound its choices are. The prosperity or otherwise of a nation is an indication of the kind of choices its leaders make. Individuals, organizations and nations are at the mercy of their choices. We first make our choices but the choices end up shaping and determining what we eventually become. Rich or poor, energized or enfeebled, progressive or retrogressive, respected or reproached, choices make people and organizations so.

While sometimes it is quite easy to make a choice, good or bad, that is not always the case. There are many instances when an issue is neither purely white nor plainly black, but gray. Making a choice in such situation is usually difficult. When faced with a situation like this the leader should be guided by two questions. One, what is the best thing for the organization in the situation? Two, what is the best thing for the people in that situation. When these questions are properly answered, even when the coast is still foggy, the leader is guided by the best intentions. Leaders make wrong choices when in a quandary if they put their personal interests first. For a leader that will go places, the corporate interest and people’s interest must come before personal interest. If the order is changed, the result would be calamitous.

Making the right choices is a function of the quality of information at the disposal of a leader. The more a leader knows, the wider and more sharpened his perspectives become, the more accurate his choices get, and the better his results are. Therefore, to guard against making perfunctory choices that could jeopardize the success of their organizations, leaders have to update their knowledge and top up information about the industry in which they operate.


Ross Perot’s great miss

In 1979, after running Microsoft for about four years with a measure of success, Bill Gates was willing to sell the company to Mr Ross Perot, who owned Electronic Data Systems (EDS), because EDS was looking to invest in a small computer company and saw Microsoft as an attractive option because it could potentially supply valuable software, while Gates was hoping to get into the corporate marketplace through EDS. At that time, EDS was worth over one billion dollars.

According to Perot, who said the offer was for between $40 and $60million, Gates “was absolutely on the right track with what he was doing. And we were really impressed with the people he had working with him and his ability to get the people working with him to work to the outer limits of their capability.”

But at the meeting to seal the deal, the first statement Perot made was, “Well, if I buy this, will I make money?  Why would you want to sell it if it is such a great idea?”

From that moment, it was difficult to make progress on the deal because Gates was not convinced Perot was serious about acquiring the company going by his attitude and utterance. He decided against selling Microsoft to Perot. With that, Perot missed out on the opportunity to own one of the most influential and transformational businesses on earth.

Lamenting his loss after Microsoft became a global phenomenon, Perot said, “I consider it one of the biggest business mistakes I’ve ever made. My satisfaction wouldn’t be in all the money I’d have made. It’d have been in the day-to-day contact with Bill and the people at Microsoft and watching them do their work.”

Today, while Microsoft market capitalization stands at $1.144 trillion, Perot’s EDS is now a division of Hewlett Packard, following its acquisition by HP.


Critical choices that leaders have to make

Choice making is critical to leadership. Here are some vital choices that determine the success or otherwise of leaders.


The leader’s team

A leader is as strong as his team members. No matter how good a leader is, he can only realize a fraction of his potential if he works alone. Nothing of significance has been achieved by lone rangers. It takes the collaborative efforts of a group for the best in individuals to be realised. Hence, the appropriateness of the Chinese proverb that behind an able man there are always other able men.

What a leader does is to cast the vision, get the right people around the vision to drive it, and provide the motivation to achieve the vision. If a leader picks the right people to run with the vision, achieving the task becomes easy but if he chooses the wrong people, the vision may be aborted. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So, unless the leader gets the right people for the task, not only will he be shooting himself in the foot, he will also be making accomplishing the task arduous.

 Buhari laments ethnic, political colouration given to sack of Osinbajo’s 35 aides


To a great extent, a leader’s attitude determines his success. Attitude determines accomplishments; no one can outperform his level of attitude. Attitude is superior to aptitude because the latter does not solely determine success. If the aptitude is right but the attitude is wrong, the outcome will be far from right. A study carried out by Stanford Research Institute substantiates this. According to the finding of the study, success is comprised of 88 per cent attitude and only 12 per cent of education (aptitude).

An attitude is a viewpoint about situations, people or places. It is a belief that informs reactions to, and handling of issues, circumstances and persons. It is a perception that shapes behaviours. It is a mindset that determines what is done and how it is done. Social scientists are of the opinion that no one was born with any particular attitude. So, attitude is a learnt behaviour.

But if attitude can be learnt, it can also be unlearned. Therefore, no one needs to enslave himself to a wrong attitude. Like a worn out shirt or skirt, a bad attitude should be shed. A bad attitude is like having a flat tyre, it can’t get anyone anywhere until it is changed.

The most important attitude a leader must learn is positivity. Positive attitude produces optimism and unleashes latent energy. It dulls worries and fears while playing up possibilities. Having a positive attitude is making a choice to see a situation from the bright side instead of viewing it from the horrible side. It is a determination to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. Positive attitude puts the dividing line between a leader who is able to steer his people from adversity to prosperity and one who leaves them enmeshed in their catastrophe.

Positivity is very important because, as Napoleon Bonaparte observed, a leader is a dealer in hope. It is a leader’s responsibility to give his people hope. But he can only give them hope if he is not hopeless himself, and being imbued with a positive attitude, hinged on a belief that things will work out well, is one sure way to demonstrate hope.

A leader with a positive attitude believes the best in his team. He does not concentrate on what is wrong but rather focuses on what is right with the team. He does not overstress what is not good about the products but emphasizes the edge his products have over others. He does not amplify what is inappropriate with the system but underscores what is good about it.

A leader should also imbibe the attitude of gratitude. The easiest way to show that an individual is valued is to express gratitude to him. When this comes from the leader, it enlivens the people and encourages them to put in more effort. But showing gratitude, especially for activities that are regarded as run of the mill, does not come naturally to many people. Most leaders wait till a team member achieves an earth-shattering or a record-breaking feat before showing them appreciation. That is not quite right because it is capable of sending a message to the team that their efforts are not valued. However, while accomplishment of tasks that are regarded as outstanding may attract incentives, those that fall into other categories should be noted and commended, even if verbally. Gratitude should be the second nature of a leader. It should flow freely from him and the leader should show how every activity that is appreciated contributes to the overall objective of the organization so that the appreciation may be fully appreciated by the recipients.



Strategy is vital to the actualization of corporate objectives because it bridges the gap between means and end. Strategy involves the deployment of resources at the disposal of an organization for the actualization of corporate goals.

According to Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, strategy should determine how organizational resources, skills and competencies are combined to create competitive advantage.

That is why many have argued that any corporate failure is traceable to failure of strategy. Those of this school of thought insist that when a company goes down it is because it has employed the wrong strategy; if the strategy is inappropriate, the result will be unsatisfying.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of strategy; offensive and defensive.

An offensive strategy is employed by companies that wish to increase their space. They are always looking for new grounds to cover, new products to launch and new territory to extend to. Their hunger for conquest is insatiable. They grow from town to town, region to region, country to country and continent to continent in their bid to increase their market share.

Some companies that deploy this strategy also introduce new products always to meet the realities of the times and take care of emerging markets.

Defensive strategy is deployed by an organization when it wishes to discourage encroachment into its market or territory. This strategy is concerned more about holding on to its share of the market than increasing same. A company with this strategy is not driven by any empire-building ambition.

The choice of strategy is a function of the vision of the organization. But a leader needs not hold on to a strategy that fails to deliver desired result. Hence, strategies should be reviewed regularly to see if they are in line with the current aspirations of the organization.


Response or reaction

A leader always has to choose between responding to a situation or reacting to it. Response and reaction are similar concepts with profound difference. To fully understand the distinction between the two, let’s seek help from the field of Medicine.

If a medication administered to a patient agrees with him and he exhibits signs of improvement, he is said to be responding to the treatment. However, if instead of improving the patient seems to be getting worse, he is said to be reacting to the treatment. We can deduce from the foregoing that when a leader responds rather than reacting, he is improving both as a person and as a leader. But when the reverse is the case, then he is not getting better.

When a leader chooses responding above reacting in a given situation, he is taking charge of the situation. With that disposition, he is able to keep in view the bigger picture and is positioned to right what is wrong for the benefit of the organization. But when a leader opts for reacting, he becomes defensive and is willing to extricate himself from the blame for what has gone wrong. Instead of protecting the overall interest of the organization, he is interested in protecting himself and starts looking for who to hang for what has gone wrong.

When leaders react, they give vent to their emotions and gag their reasoning. Any leader worth his title knows that emotions can be misleading because they are, more often than not, transient. So, any decision based on emotions is more likely to be wrong than right.


Last line

Leaders who make the right choices for their organizations leave indelible marks on the sands of time.


Nigerian Tribune

Leaders and choices
Tribune Online

Why some visions thrive and others die https://tribuneonlineng.com/why-some-visions-thrive-and-others-die/ Mon, 11 Nov 2019 00:04:17 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=263506 Tribune Online
Why some visions thrive and others die

Visions, man on the moon, technical working groups committee

Towards the end of his administration, former President Olusegun Obasanjo mooted the idea of Vision 2020, an aspiration to grow the economy such that “By 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the […]

Why some visions thrive and others die
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Why some visions thrive and others die

Visions, man on the moon, technical working groups committee

Towards the end of his administration, former President Olusegun Obasanjo mooted the idea of Vision 2020, an aspiration to grow the economy such that “By 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena.” With that vision, the leadership of the country hoped to put Nigeria in the class of leading economies such as the United States of America, Japan, Germany, China, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, South Korea and Indonesia.

Although former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who succeeded Obasanjo in 2007, came up with his own Seven-Point Agenda, he still believed in Vision2020 and, in August 2008, set up the National Council on Vision2020 to provide leadership and direction to achieve the vision by using a bottom-up approach which would ensure ownership by all stakeholders. The government also set up committees such as the National Steering Committee on Vision2020, the Stakeholder Development Committee, and the National Technical Working Groups Committee to carry out various functions. After the demise of President Yar’Adua in 2010, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan continued with the pursuit of the vision. But now in November 2019, eve of the target year, not only is Nigeria’s economy nowhere near being ranked among the leading 20 economies in the world, no one is even talking about the vision anymore. Nigeria’s economy is bogged down by slow growth and rising unemployment, which have effectively combined to push almost a half of the population into extreme poverty.

Why did Vision2020, as desirable as it was, die? Why did Nigeria fail to make the transition into the league of leading economies?

On May 25, 1961, former president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, proposed to the Congress that the United States “should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Although President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the vision of landing a man on the moon within a decade was realized because on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Why was Kennedy’s vision of landing a man on the moon within a decade achieved?

Why do some visions die while others thrive?


Vision is travelling into the future to see what is possible. Without vision nothing great gets done. Great leaders always live in the possibilities of the future, not the limitations of the moment. They do not allow the realities of the present to muffle them, rather they are motivated by the prospects the future offers and allow the possibilities to dictate their course of actions. Vision is the compass that guides an organization or nation into its desired destination. Vision is the encapsulation of an organization’s aspiration; where it wants to be and what it wants to become. Without a compelling vision, a company cannot record sustained success.

But it is not every vision that thrives. While some visions are alive, many others have become history. What makes one vision to live and another to die? What enlivens visions? What imperils visions?

For any vision to thrive it must be backed by the following.

No one is too powerful for me to control — Buhari


Many visions fail because while they express an aspiration, the aspiration is not founded on a strong reason. The purpose is the essence of a vision. A vision without a well-reasoned out purpose is not better than a mere wish. Purpose is the why of the vision. For a vision to thrive it must develop a life of its own. No vision can develop its own life until its purpose is well understood. Once the why is identified, the vision has the power to spark passion, birth inspiration and generate action. All of these give the vision its own life.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics in one of its publications, the essence of Vision2020 was to improve the well-being of a category of Nigerians. It states, “The Vision aims to reduce the problems of hunger, poverty, poor healthcare, inadequate housing, low quality human capital, gender imbalance, low productivity and poor basic facilities by 2020.”

The purpose of Vision2020 was to help the poor, not to help everyone and that was part of its undoing. As noble as the intention to improve the lot of the common people was, there was nothing in the vision for those who were supposed to implement it. Those saddled with the responsibility of running with the vision were neither hungry nor poor and they had access to good healthcare and good housing. Since they could not see themselves in the purpose of the vision, their buy-in could not be guaranteed. So, their commitment to the realization of the vision was quite feeble.

But when President Kennedy was explaining the purpose of the vision to put a man on the moon, he said, “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Every American citizen could connect to the purpose of the vision. The national pride was aptly expressed; “only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.” It also spoke of the benefit to the individual; “they must be won and used for the progress of all people.” There is also a call to action, “that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Without a strong purpose, the best of visions will fall flat.



When the purpose of a vision becomes apparent, the door is open for its translation into a mission. The vision is the aspiration but the mission is what has to be done to make the aspiration a reality. Without a vision being turned into a mission, it remains a dream. That was a major problem with Vision2020. Although the government set up the National Steering Committee on Vision2020, it was not a committee on a mission. There was no sense of urgency, there was no known modus operandi, there were no timelines for milestones on the journey to 2020. There was just an omnibus desire to join the League of Big Economies.

On the contrary, when the United States agreed with President Kennedy on the need to land a man on the moon and return him to earth, it became a national assignment for everyone and this resulted in the streamlining of the activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Before 1961, the vision of NASA was broad. Among other things, the agency wanted to establish superior technology, achieve preeminence in space and advance science. But after 1961, NASA’s mission became landing a man on the moon and bringing him back to earth. The mission became so agency-wide that a sanitary officer was reported as saying “I’m not mopping floors, I’m putting a man on the moon.”

When a leader properly casts a vision, it becomes the mission of his people.



A great vision in the hands of wrong people will fail to achieve its purpose. People are vital to the realization of any vision. When the people are committed to the realization of a vision, it is almost a cinch that it will get done. Without the cooperation of the people, a vision, irrespective of the passion of the leader, will struggle and its realization may be sluggish. Therefore, a leader’s seriousness in the realization of a vision is marked by the quality of people he appoints to handle the vision. In bringing on board the people to birth a vision, the leader must bear the following qualities in mind.

Competence – A vital quality the leader should consider in determining who to involve in the birthing of the vision is competence. What is done is a function of what is known. No one can outperform his level of competence. To guarantee the realization of a vision, the leader has to ensure that those invited to midwife it are competent.

Grit – Grit is important because every project has its challenges. When storm arises in the course of birthing the vision, only those who are gritty will be able to endure the grind. To guard against the vision being still born, the leader must be sure that those invited to watch over it are those who are not cowed by challenges. When a person is deficient in grit, instead of finding a reason to succeed, he looks for justification for his failure.

Integrity – This is a crucial quality because oftentimes those who compromise on standards are those who are lacking in integrity. Being a person of integrity is staying true to a course when it is convenient and when it is not. When people with integrity handle a vision, they preserve the integrity of that vision.

Creativity – Those who break frontiers are the innovative. Without the input of creative people the potential of a vision cannot be fully realized. To give the vision full wings to fly, the leader must ensure that creative minds are brought on board.


RCCG’s success secret

The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), one of the fastest growing churches in the world today, would probably have become history if the founder, Reverend Josiah Akindayomi, had been sentimental in his choice of successor. Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Akindayomi’s successor, joined the church in 1973, 21 years after the church started. So, there were many pastors ahead of him in ranking. But when Reverend Akindayomi was preparing his will, knowing that the vision of “taking the church to the ends of the earth and that when the Lord Jesus Christ appears in glory, He would meet the church” could only be achieved by a person hungry enough to soak himself in the word of God, passionate enough to share the undiluted word of God with all and sundry, humble enough to earn the respect of everyone, exposed enough to move the church beyond the place of its birth, and God-fearing enough to shun the perks of office and the lure of the world, he picked Pastor Adeboye. Since 1981, when Adeboye took over the leadership of RCCG, the church has experienced phenomenal growth. RCCG’s narrative might have been different had the founder picked a different successor.

Great leaders always get the best man for the job.



Every vision that will thrive needs a system because a vision does not just get realized, every vision has to be worked out. The working out has to be systematic for it to be successful. A system is a framework of groups working together as parts of a whole. The system breaks the whole vision into smaller parts with which each subset runs. Doing this leads to developing repeatable processes that result in the accomplishment of the vision. If the leader does not build a system around the vision, the vision suffers. If the system is not divided into subsets, resources are frittered. If the subsets do not come up with repeatable processes, progress is slow.

Nigerian government set up the National Steering Committee on Vision2020, the Stakeholder Development Committee and the National Technical Working Groups Committee, with the intention of building a system to midwife the vision but the framework was too weak and lacked the internal cohesion to produce repeatable processes that would result in the realization of the vision. This partly resulted in the death of the vision.



Focus is a strong determinant of success. When focus is achieved, success is assured, but if focus is lost success becomes a mirage. Vision becomes a casualty when focus shifts.

For as long as the vision to put a man on the moon lasted, it was the major focus of the United States government, there was no competing vision. But the story was different for Vision2020. President Yar’Adua had his Seven-Point Agenda, President Goodluck Jonathan had his Transformation Agenda and President Muhammadu Buhari, in his first term in office, had the Change Agenda, all of which competed with Vision2020 and led to its abandonment.

This is one of the major reasons for the failure of the vision. When focus is wrong, vision becomes blurry.


Last line

Visions are achieved by doers not dreamers.


Nigerian Tribune

Why some visions thrive and others die
Tribune Online

L&M Leader of the Month https://tribuneonlineng.com/lm-leader-of-the-month/ Sun, 10 Nov 2019 23:04:43 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=263507 Tribune Online
L&M Leader of the Month

Dr Yinka Ayefele has been chosen as winner of the October 2019 L&M Leader of the Month Award. Ayefele demonstrates a very strong leadership trait of empowering others. He has proven that he is a strong leader by his ability to manage the various talents that work with him not just for the benefit of […]

L&M Leader of the Month
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
L&M Leader of the Month

Dr Yinka Ayefele has been chosen as winner of the October 2019 L&M Leader of the Month Award.

Ayefele demonstrates a very strong leadership trait of empowering others. He has proven that he is a strong leader by his ability to manage the various talents that work with him not just for the benefit of his organization but also for the blossoming of the talents.

Ayefele exemplifies Tom Peters’ axiom that true leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. By allowing those who he leads to thrive, Ayefele, as an entrepreneur, has created many intrapreneurs, those who are allowed to give vent to their personal dreams while helping him to fan the embers of his own dream. Consequently, Ayefele, who runs a couple of radio stations, has working with him full time broadcasters who are into music production, event management, book publishing and tour packaging, among others.

It takes a great leader not to feel challenged by the success of subordinates.

Speak out on your relationship with Buhari, Middle Belt leaders tell Osinbajo

Born in Ipoti Ekiti, Ekiti State, Ayefele had his primary and secondary education in his home town before proceeding to Ondo State College of Arts and Science in Ikare Akoko, Ondo State after which he joined the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Ibadan as a broadcaster. While at the FRCN, he also produced advert jingles. A road accident, which left him with spinal cord injury, confined him to a wheelchair. The situation spurred him to wax a music album detailing his experience. The song found acceptance in the marketplace and that opened a new vista for him. Since 1998 when his first album was released, Ayefele has been in the limelight as a tungba gospel artiste.

But success in his musical endeavour did not mute his love for broadcasting. He started with an online radio station which later transmuted to Fresh FM, Ibadan. He recently established a station in Ekiti and Ogun states respectively.

Ayefele is a recipient of the national honour, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) and many other awards.


Nigerian Tribune

L&M Leader of the Month
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Leaders and the discomfort of comfort https://tribuneonlineng.com/leaders-and-the-discomfort-of-comfort/ Mon, 04 Nov 2019 00:18:48 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=261159 Tribune Online
Leaders and the discomfort of comfort

discomfort, comfort, discomfort, challenge assumptions, leader

The pursuit of the average leader is comfort. He strives to avoid challenges. He prays fervently to escape problems. He works hard to circumvent stressful situations. Though he opts to enjoy his comfort, he misses the joy of covering new grounds, he does not break new barriers, he never savours the taste of new victories. […]

Leaders and the discomfort of comfort
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Leaders and the discomfort of comfort

discomfort, comfort, discomfort, challenge assumptions, leader

The pursuit of the average leader is comfort. He strives to avoid challenges. He prays fervently to escape problems. He works hard to circumvent stressful situations. Though he opts to enjoy his comfort, he misses the joy of covering new grounds, he does not break new barriers, he never savours the taste of new victories. For the average leader, being normal is normal. But this is not so with great leaders; they deliberately seek discomfort, they do not feel comfortable with the normal. They are always on the lookout for new discoveries to make, new records to break and new heights to scale.

Outstanding leaders are always uncomfortable with comfort because of their understanding that what once worked will not always work. They don’t want to be caught napping, so before the future comes knocking, they travel into it and unearth what it holds so that they are prepared before the future arrives. Those who take risks and dump their comfort zone for the uncharted zone are the ones that make great impact. It’s only when we let go of the safe and the familiar that we develop capacity and are able to optimize opportunities. As observed by Will Rogers, an American newspaper columnist, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.”

Many organizations yearn for more resources, greater performance and better profitability but these have remained elusive to them because they never want to leave their comfort zone. They want to keep doing the usual while expecting the unusual. The great life you dream about is outside of your comfort zone. To live your dream, you have to leave your comfort zone and move into the uncharted zone, the abode of great possibilities. According to Neal Donald Walsch, an American writer, life begins at the end of our comfort zone. No worthwhile aspiration can be accomplished from within our comfort zone. It is only when we let go of the security of the known and comfort of the normal that a new vista of opportunities is open to us. If we don’t change, we don’t get a change because nothing around us changes.

Ibadan Circular Road: Makinde rescinds stop-work order

Comfort in leadership signifies stagnation. It means dwelling in the familiar. It means running with the status quo. But the outcome of the familiar is already determined. To get a new result, we have to do new things. As observed by Mario Andretti, one of the most successful racing drivers the world has ever known, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” This is why great leaders are not comfortable with comfort. They look for discomfort because they know that great accomplishments are buried in the belly of discomfort.

Why stepping out of comfort zone is important to success

Over a century ago, precisely in 1908, two psychologists, Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson, carried out a research about what increases performance. They found out that performance is hiked by physiological and mental arousal which is precipitated by anxiety, pressure or stress. Their discovery is now known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. But the fact is that comfort does not produce any arousal because it lacks the capacity to create anxiety or pressure. It is discomfort, a new experience or a strange encounter that creates anxiety which results in physiological or mental arousal. The import of this is that doing the same thing, remaining in a familiar situation or staying rooted in a comfort zone does not produce the impetus for improvement. Getting new results, to produce new effects or record new success requires stepping out of the familiar to the unfamiliar. This is in tandem with the submission of Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive, that “We need a place of productive discomfort, if you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive.” It also agrees with the view of Brian Tracy, a self-development writer, that “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”


Moving from comfort zone to greater zone

To move from your comfort zone to a greater zone requires doing the following.


Challenge assumptions

An assumption is something that is accepted to be true without a proof. An assumption is an idea one believes to be true based on prior experience or a belief system. An assumption is a ceiling we place on our thinking. Because we assume, we fail to go any further than our assumption.


The newly-wed and her brisket recipe

A newly-married lady was intent on dazzling her husband with a finger-licking dinner. So she settled for a brisket recipe, her mother’s specialty. She brought out the beef from the refrigerator and slashed off the end of the roast. Her husband, who was with her, asked why she had to cut off the ends which he believed was the most delicious part. She said, “That’s how my mother always made it.” Confused, the husband picked the phone and called his mother-in-law to inquire why she always did that. The mother-in-law responded, “That is how my mother always made it.” Fortunately the grandmother was still alive. So, the husband reached for the phone, called the old woman to find out why she always did that. The grandmother explained, “I always cut off the ends because that was the only way it would fill the pan in my days. But you don’t have to do that now because you have more spacious pans.”

For failing to challenge assumptions, a dated practice was kept in the family for two generations.

When we challenge our assumptions, the veil covering the mind is lifted and new possibilities are made manifest. When we question assumptions we destroy misconceptions. When we challenge assumptions we position ourselves to have a new worldview. When we question assumptions, we are able to look at old issues with new eyes and get fresh understanding. But when we fail to challenge assumptions, we put ourselves under the yoke of outdated beliefs and thinking, thus putting a ceiling on our faculty and a lid on our accomplishments.


Push boundaries

There is no standstill in nature; you either buck up or buck down. In reality there is no stagnation, those who don’t advance, slide. There is nothing so good that it cannot be improved upon. So, rather than celebrating an accomplishment, you must learn to always push the boundaries. Those who move before it is absolutely necessary to do so have an edge over those who are forced to move. This is why the world celebrates those who are prepared ahead of opportunities, not those waiting for opportunities to prepare themselves. So, never be satisfied with any level of attainment. Keep pushing the boundaries to get better and scale up your accomplishments.

To push your boundaries, ask the following questions: Is this the only thing we can do? Is this the only way we can do what we do? Are the people we are reaching currently the only ones we can reach? Honest answers to these questions will help in pushing the boundaries.

When the photographic film industry was hit by the hard times, Fujifilm, one of the strong forces in the industry decided to push its boundaries by expanding its thinking. The company raised some questions that changed its fortune completely. One of the questions was, “Do we have to be in the film and camera industry exclusively?” It was a question that the leadership of the business allowed to permeate the whole company. As this question agitated the minds of the people, they made a discovery, which was that the technology used in film making could be applied to the human skin. With that discovery, Fujifilm intensified research into this area and eventually came up with an anti-ageing skincare product known as Astalift. Today, that product is a market leader in many countries. As a result of pushing its boundary, while many companies in the photographic film industry, including Kodak the indisputable market leader, were swept away by the onslaught of digital photography, Fujifilm survived.


Be driven by your dream, not your fear

Many individuals and organizations never venture to step out of their comfort zone for fear of the unknown, forgetting that doing the same thing and expecting a different result has been described as the beginning of insanity. John A. Shedd said a ship in the harbor is safe, but ships are not meant to be kept perpetually in harbours. So, unless the ship goes out to the sea, it can never realize its potential. Fear is the robber of greatness. Those who give into fear every time, live below their capacity all the time. According to Walt Disney, all our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Speaking along the same line, Abraham Maslow said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” So, rather than allow your fear to petrify you into inactivity, turn to your dream and draw inspiration from the change you will experience should you accomplish it.


Learn from setbacks

Dr Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, once said, “It’s not our failures that determine our future success, but how we explain them to ourselves.” A person does not become a failure because he fails; he becomes a failure when he fails to try again. So, that you suffer setbacks on a number of occasions does not mean you have failed. Many of the world’s most successful people moved from failure to eventual success. Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

As you sojourn into the uncharted zone, understand that setbacks may occur. When they do, they do not define you but they are opportunities to learn and grow. So give yourself a chance to succeed by learning from setbacks when you experience them.


Last line

When you ignore your fears you give wings to your dreams.

Nigerian Tribune

Leaders and the discomfort of comfort
Tribune Online

Leaders and resource deployment https://tribuneonlineng.com/leaders-and-resource-deployment/ Mon, 28 Oct 2019 00:55:33 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=258774 Tribune Online
Leaders and resource deployment

resource deployment, Leaders, sense of urgency, invest, time

Leaders are generally regarded as agents of change because they determine their organization’s direction. A leader is not expected to maintain status quo, he should take his organization a notch higher than he met it. If a leader gets into a badly run organization, it is his lot to turn around the situation and mould […]

Leaders and resource deployment
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Leaders and resource deployment

resource deployment, Leaders, sense of urgency, invest, time

Leaders are generally regarded as agents of change because they determine their organization’s direction. A leader is not expected to maintain status quo, he should take his organization a notch higher than he met it. If a leader gets into a badly run organization, it is his lot to turn around the situation and mould the wobbly company into one that meets the aspirations of all stakeholders. If a leader inherits a successful organization, he is looked upon to make it better by improving on its performance. However, for leaders to achieve the desired results, they require resources. Leaders deploy available resources to produce desired results. A leader’s success in achieving set targets is largely dependent on his adroitness in resource deployment. When leaders use resources correctly, the effect shows on the health of the organization, its environment and its bottom line. When a leader fails to make the best use of available resources, the organization pays for it through a below par performance.

Principally, four resources are available to a leader; these are the human resource, finance, time and the company’s reputation.


How leaders manage resources to get desired results


Human resource

A company’s human resource is its most important asset. The success or failure of an organization depends on how well the human resource is managed. Vision is translated to reality by the workforce, goals are achieved by the workforce, and the environment is made sustainable by the personnel. Hence, the aptness of Peter Drucker’s assertion that “Of all the decisions a manager makes, none are as important as the decisions about people, because they determine the performance capacity of the organization.”

While the workforce is an asset, it is not a given that it will produce the desired result. For the personnel to produce the result that can propel a company to prosperity and sustainability, the leader must position those he leads to achieve their maximum. Well-managed people always extend the frontiers of their leaders.  When the workforce is properly led, the stage is set for the prosperity and longevity of the organization. For the workforce to maximize their potential, the leader has to do three things.

First the leader has to educate them. This has to do with training and mentoring. When an employee is trained, his eyes are opened to new things and the capacity of his mind is increased. With this, he becomes more than he has ever been and is poised to do more than he has ever accomplished both in quality and in quantity. An organization that fails to train its personnel incapacitates itself and limits both its revenue-generating ability and growth possibilities.

Then the leader has to empower them. This has to do with equipping the workforce. While a trained employee can exceed expectations, he will not be able to do as much as he would have done had he been backed up with the right equipment. When expertise in an employee meets the right equipment, the organization reaps the harvest of speed, precision and innovation.

Lastly, the leader must energise his workforce. To energise is to match skills with tasks. Many leaders fail in this aspect because they do not invest time in getting to know their employees enough. As a result, they either underutilize them or frustrate them. It is part of a leader’s calling to know his people enough to know their strengths and weaknesses with a view to enhancing the strength and making up for the weaknesses.

When a leader educates, empowers and energise his workforce, he unleashes them to be their best and set the stage for his organisation’s greatness.

Fulani and origin of the names “Yoruba” and “Yamiri”

Howard Behar’s transformation of Starbucks

When Howard Behar joined Starbucks in 1989 as Vice President (Sales and Operations), the company had just 28 stores. By the time he was named CEO in 1995, six years later, he had grown the retail business to over 400 stores. In 1996, he opened the first Starbucks store in Tokyo. The spread continued across Asia, Middle East and Europe. By the time he retired in 2003, Starbucks had over 15,000 outlets across the globe.

According to Behar, the company was able to do so well under him because he put the people first by training, equipping, energizing and serving them. He treated them as humans and made their welfare his priority. To show his emphasis on putting his people before the business, he came up with the catch phrase. “We aren’t in the coffee business serving people; we are in the people business serving coffee.” He put serving and empowering the people above serving coffee.

As a result, the people’s skills and enthusiasm went up. As the workforce got better, the company also got better. Thus, quarter after quarter, year after year, the company posted heartwarming results.


Financial resource

A major resource which deployment can take an organization from the nadir to the zenith or vice versa is finance. Cash has always been king and it is not about to relinquish its crown. Organisations that learn to manage money well stay on top, those that do not go aground. Most of the companies that fail do so because they run out of cash. Therefore, one thing a leader must be conversant with in the management of money as an organizational resource is cash flow, both inwards and outwards. To have a grip on cash flow, the leader must understand his company’s cash conversion cycle, how long it takes for every naira or dollar spent to return to the company. If a leader does not get that right, he will get many things wrong.

To properly manage financial resources, the leader must enshrine a system that sticks to the budget as much as possible. Most of the companies that go broke and go bust do so because of financial indiscipline. So, keeping to the terms of the budget is a way to immunize the company against sudden financial crisis. Then the leader must also track the company’s spending to ensure that money spent delivers the expected value.


Between Cooperative Bank and Prudent Bank

When Professor Charles Soludo’s Central Bank of Nigeria decreed that banks should up their capitalization to N25 billion by the end of 2005, many of the lenders were at their wits’ end. A number of them were forced to merge to meet the requirement. That brought the Cooperative Bank Plc, Prudent Bank and a few other banks together. Of all these banks, Cooperative was the oldest and the biggest. It had more branches than the rest and it had more customers. But the bank did not have as much cash as was required. So, rather than play the lead role in the merger process, it had to yield that role to Prudent that was more liquid. Consequently, many of the principal employees of Cooperative Bank, including its CEO, had to be eased out while employees of Prudent Bank took charge. The undoing of Cooperative Bank was its poor cash profile.

Oftentimes, when a company has a weak cash profile, it is robbed of opportunity for greatness.



Time is a very important resource. Its management often differentiates between strong and struggling companies. Leaders that make the most of their time are guided by a sense of urgency. When a leader has a sense of urgency, he is able to steer his people to great productivity. When urgency is not applied to issues, time is wasted while other resources are mishandled, misapplied or even misappropriated. All of which tell on the results of the organization.

While great leaders invest their time, ordinary ones either spend or waste theirs. Great leaders do not waste time in taking decisions and are quick to implement their decisions. But on the contrary, ordinary leaders take forever to reach a decision and wait till the day after forever to implement same. This is why so many organizations barely manage to exist.

According to Thomas Edison, time is the only capital that any human being has which he cannot afford to lose. Time is nature’s gift to man. It is a seed. It is a capital. A resource that is not put to productive utilization does not benefit the owner. A seed that is not sowed dies. A capital that is kept idle will depreciate in value. Great leaders understand this and never fail to invest their time. They invest their time in their work or business and expect to haul a harvest of financial returns and fulfillment. They invest their time in self development and expect personal growth. They invest their time in grooming their people and build great companies. They invest their time in study and research to become innovative. They invest their time in relationships and harvest strong social network.

To encourage their people to make the most of their time, leaders do three things.

First, they paint a picture of opportunities possible as a result of developing a sense of urgency. Seeing what is possible will whet the appetite of the people and energise them into taking actions that will bring about positive changes.

Then, they link the ultimate result to personal benefits of the workforce. Most people will do anything to protect their interest. So, as a way of generating interest in developing a sense of urgency in team members, the leader needs to show them how the result derivable from the exercise will positively impact on their lives.

Third, they set enforceable deadline. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This means that an assignment that could be completed in five hours could actually last five weeks if that is permitted by those saddled with that responsibility. In the same vein, the same assignment could be completed in four hours or less if those handling it would make up their mind to do it within that time frame. Therefore, a leader must always set the time within which a task must be accomplished and ensure strict compliance. Not only does this result in efficiency, it also leads to instant appropriation of opportunities.



Every organization has a reputation. This can either be enabling or inhibiting. If a company has a good reputation, the leader’s job is not just to ensure that nothing tarnishes it but to also work towards improving it. If the company’s reputation is negative, he needs to work hard to turn the narrative around.

Reputation is a resource because, if properly deployed, it communicates a company’s values to its publics. A company’s reputation determines whether the public wants to buy its products or not. So, reputation is vital to the sustenance of a company.

To build a good reputation for his company, a leader has to ensure that the company lives up to its promise. Every product or service makes a promise. That is what buyers trade their money for. If a business consistently meets or exceeds the expectations of its customers, it builds a reputation as a reliable company. But when it fails on this promise, not only does it lose patronage, it also builds a reputation as an unreliable organization and this ebbs its goodwill.

Then the business has to do something for the community. To build a good reputation, a company has to go beyond its call of duty to spare of its resources for the benefit of the community where it operates. This is what is known as being socially responsible. Not only does this give it a good reputation, it also commits the community to it.


Last line

The mark of strong leadership is deft utilization of resources to achieve desired results.

Nigerian Tribune

Leaders and resource deployment
Tribune Online

Leading with dignity https://tribuneonlineng.com/leading-with-dignity/ Mon, 21 Oct 2019 03:08:33 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=256250 Tribune Online
Leading with dignity

dignity, grooming mentoring and minding, leaders

Every office comes with a measure of prestige but it is the officeholder that brings dignity into that office. The combination of prestige and dignity creates an awe-like aura around the leader. This is what gives the leader presence. This is what makes others defer to him. This is what sets a leader apart from […]

Leading with dignity
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Leading with dignity

dignity, grooming mentoring and minding, leaders

Every office comes with a measure of prestige but it is the officeholder that brings dignity into that office. The combination of prestige and dignity creates an awe-like aura around the leader. This is what gives the leader presence. This is what makes others defer to him. This is what sets a leader apart from the rest.

While leadership can survive without the prestige of an office or a position, it hits the rock when it is devoid of dignity. Leaders who rely only on the prestige of the office to have their way often have to resort to legality to achieve their objectives and lose their influence once they are out of office. It is only those who lead without dignity that will have cause to complain of desertion by their people when they are out of office. Those who lead with dignity never lose their people even when they lose their position. It is the dignity of a leader that draws followership and binds followers to him. It is the dignity of a leader that inspires trust in him. It is the dignity of a leader that gives his word power. It is a leader’s dignity that makes him honourable. It is a leader’s dignity that wins him a space in the hearts of his followers.

Dignity is a leader’s understanding and appreciation of his worth as an individual (not just an office-holder) and the comprehension of others’ expectations of him as a person. An office does not confer dignity on the office-holder; it is the office-holder that confers dignity on his position. That is why the hood never makes the monk.


How leaders sustain dignity

Murphy’s Law says whatever can go wrong will go wrong. While this is true, whatever can go wrong can be prevented from going wrong by taking the right action. So, though dignity could be lost, taking the right steps can save a leader from the ignominy of losing his dignity.

Shell rejected me as fresh graduate, I rejected them years after —Awodeyi

Don’t make promises you cannot keep

A leader should be conscious of the promises he makes because while every promise kept enhances dignity, every broken promise ebbs away the dignity of a leader. It is better for a leader not to make a promise than for him to make one and later break it. Fewer things destroy a leader’s dignity more than a broken promise. One of the first lessons anyone in leadership must learn is how to refrain from making promises they have no intention of keeping. John Keynes, the famous economist, said when the facts change, I change my mind. A leader is at liberty to change his mind as occasions demand but he does not enjoy that latitude with the promises made to the people.

When George H.W. Bush was seeking election to the office of the United States president in 1988, he made a promise not to introduce new taxes. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 1988, he said to the American electorate, “Read my lips: No new taxes.” Many observers believe that this promise earned him the presidency. But the situation changed after his assumption of office as the country slid into recession and there was the need for the government to increase taxes. Remembering his promise to the people, he was reluctant to do it but he eventually signed a bill increasing taxes which the Congress had passed. The consensus of opinions is that the increase in taxes cost him the presidency in the 1992 election because Bill Clinton, his opponent, presented him as a leader who could not keep his promise to the American people.

Leaders should endeavour to keep their words irrespective of the cost. When leaders keep their words, they maintain their integrity and this boosts their dignity.


Don’t give a command that cannot be obeyed

It was General Douglas MacArthur who counseled leaders not to give a command that cannot be obeyed. Ordinarily, when a leader gives a directive, his followers should willingly and gladly carry it out. But when a command is neither right nor realistic, followers are left with the Hobson’s choice of disregarding it. Only leaders who are out of sync with reality give orders that cannot be obeyed. When a leader is too distant from his people, it will be difficult for him to share their concerns and could be tempted to give orders that cannot be executed. Such leaders set targets that cannot be realized and give deadlines that cannot be met. Great leaders stay in touch with the troop, consider all options before giving a directive. With this, buy-in is easy. Even when a great leader makes an unrealistic demand on his workforce, because he is available and accessible, the people go to him with their concerns and the grey areas are sorted out. But when a leader lives in his own world and does not take his people’s views and feelings into consideration before setting targets and giving commands, he will get to a point that the workforce will call his bluff and damn the consequences because head or tail they will lose. Once it gets to the point of followers calling the bluff of a leader, the bubble is burst, dignity is gone, the awe has evanesced and not much of leadership is left.


Don’t stop getting better

It is the calling of leaders to solve problems. When a group gets to a crossroads, all heads turn to the leader for direction. When an organization bottoms out, everyone looks up to the leader for solution. When finances are low and the bills are piling up, everyone runs to the leader. To be able to meet the expectations of his team members, a leader must keep updating his knowledge. If a leader cannot proffer solutions to the issues that ail those he leads, he is not better than the people. What gives a leader an edge over those he leads is the ability to show the way out of a quandary. If a leader is as confused as those he leads, he will lose his dignity because the awe around him will evaporate. The people will see him as not being different from them. So, it is incumbent on a leader to always improve himself so as to be able to meet the problem-solving demand of his office. As observed by General Collin Powel, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

A leader does not always have to be the one to personally proffer solutions, but when a leader does not have the solution, he should know someone who would be able to solve the riddle.

Being committed to learning will also help a leader to see problems before they become apparent. This advanced knowledge will enable the leader to nip problems in the bud and prevent them from festering. Leaders who do this are always respected by the followers and their dignity remains intact.


Don’t stop opening doors for others

Leaders open doors for others by creating opportunities for them. Great leaders always want to see their followers get better. They do this by emptying themselves into their followers through grooming, mentoring and minding. Grooming, mentoring and minding are the processes through which leaders equip their followers but they don’t just stop at that. Great leaders go ahead to actually create opportunities for their followers to put into practice the learning they have acquired so that they can flourish. Great leaders don’t want to keep their followers as followers in perpetuity, they want them to grow and become leaders. So, great leaders create more leaders and not more followers. By empowering others and creating opportunities for them to thrive, the leader wins the admiration and adoration of such people. They hold the leader in high esteem and would be willing to stake all they have to ensure the leader’s success.


Don’t discriminate

Followers love and respect leaders who are fair because fairness is actually a respect for all concerned. When a leader plays favouritism, he is being disrespectful to the people under him and they will eventually reciprocate. When a leader establishes different sets of rules for different categories of followers, not only does he create ill-will among the followers, he also destroys the basis of his leadership. A leader should be trusted by all and held in high esteem by everyone. The only way to enjoy this measure of dignity is to be fair to everyone and not regard some as sacred cows or untouchable. The truth is that when a leader is fair to all, even those who veer off the line and are sanctioned by the leader will still respect and love him because they know that his actions were not founded on any ill feeling but principles. However, when a leader is unfair, even those who he tries to favour will not respect him.

2023: Why Igbo man must be president —Nwodo

How dignity works

When a leader leads with dignity, not only does he understand and value his worth as a human being, and endeavours to keep same, he also refrains from trampling others’ worth. It takes a leader who honours and respects himself to honour and respect his followers. Only dignified leaders can dignify others. A happy leader spreads happiness while a hurt leader spreads pain. People cannot give others what they lack.

So those who lead with dignity build a strong team where human dignity is respected. This respect for human dignity is not restricted to just the workforce, it is also extended to the organization’s customers and clients. Customers are treated with utmost respect. Workers go the whole hog to give customers a sense of satisfaction by exceeding their expectations. This grows the customer base as the satisfied customers spread the gospel to others. This eventually impacts the bottom line and the health of the organization.


Last line

He who leads with dignity builds a wholesome team and a prosperous organization.

Leading with dignity
Tribune Online

How companies grow big https://tribuneonlineng.com/how-companies-grow-big/ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 02:13:08 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=253687 Tribune Online
How companies grow big


New companies always dream to scale up and become big for reasons such as the opportunity to leverage on the economy of scale, access to funding, and better brand recognition. They also aspire to grow big so that they can produce heartwarming returns on investment to their shareholders and offer their customers better products and […]

How companies grow big
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
How companies grow big


New companies always dream to scale up and become big for reasons such as the opportunity to leverage on the economy of scale, access to funding, and better brand recognition. They also aspire to grow big so that they can produce heartwarming returns on investment to their shareholders and offer their customers better products and services. However, while every business can become big, many remain small and struggling as a result of their failure to adhere to the principles required for crossing to the big league. The undoing of many companies that fail to become big is their haste to hit it big. Success takes a process and those who are in a hurry to achieve it usually make a shipwreck of their journey.


How businesses grow big

To grow big, businesses take a number of steps.


They build their capacity

Capacity management is how a business maximizes its activities and productivity at all times. Since there cannot be effective capacity management without capacity building, companies that plan to grow big must put measures in place to build their capacity. Capacity building is critical to business sustainability because it brings about effectiveness and positions the personnel to appropriate the opportunities available in the industry. While companies that are determined to grow big build their staff capacities before opportunities become apparent, others wait for opportunities to become visible before endeavouring to build capacity. As a result they lose out in the race to appropriate available opportunities and become big.

In 2001, when the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) was introduced in Nigeria, the Federal Government gave the state-owned Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) the GSM licence free while other service providers, MTN and Econet, paid $285million. Having operated telephone business across the country ahead of the GSM era should have conferred an advantage on NITEL, but the sad reality was that the company could not properly appropriate the head start it had because its personnel lacked the required capacity. NITEL could not compete with others and it eventually bowed out of the business. Its undoing was its lack of capacity.

According to French poet and novelist, Victor Hugo, “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come. There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The GSM revolution came in 2001, while other organizations that had built their capacity made a kill; NITEL that had failed to build its capacity was killed.

Another benefit of building capacity is the opportunity to build a good reputation. When a company builds its capacity, it is able to deliver on expected terms, and consequently, becomes trusted in the industry and builds a reputation as a performer. This improves its rating and speeds up the process of getting big.


They stay the course

Getting big as a business is not a sprint, more often than not, it is a marathon. This is one reason many fail in the bid to get big. The road to becoming a big company is strewn with difficulties and disappointments, so only the tough and the determined arrive at the desired end. Great things build up slowly, not suddenly. This is why the hearts of many fail. But for those who want to make it big, they stay the course, they are committed to the goal of growing big and consistent in the pursuit of the goal. They do not allow adversity or any other ephemeral occurrence to take them off their course. They stay on course, learn all they need to learn, do all they need to do and as a result, build momentum, which keeps them going even when success is not in sight. As they stay the course and build momentum, the tide turns in their favour and they achieve their dream of becoming big.


The king and the builders

A very rich king had a huge farmland on the other side of the river in his town. This provided food for his citizens. As a result of population growth, he needed to build two new bridges to transport crops and facilitate the commuting of farmhands from the city to the fields. Therefore, the king invited two builders, one for each new bridge, and told them that they could choose to be paid one million dollars for the job or be paid a penny on the first day and double the money each day until the project was completed. The project was to last one month.

The first builder opted to be paid one million dollars. The king paid him and he left. He then asked the second builder what he wanted. The man said, “Your Majesty, if you were in my shoes, what would be your choice?”

The king said, “A penny on the first day and double the money every day for one month.”

The builder, after a few minutes’ reflection, agreed to go by the king’s counsel. He was paid a penny and he left. The following day he got $0.02. On the seventh day, he got $0.64. By this time, the other builder was making jest of him, saying how ludicrous it was for the builder to have consented to taking a penny when he had the opportunity to get a million dollars. On the 14th day, the second builder was paid $81.92, on the 21st day, he was paid $10,485.76, on the 28th day, the king paid him $1,342,177.28, on the 29th day, he got $2,684,354.56, on the 30th day, he got $5,368,709.12 and when the project was completed on the 31st day, he was paid $10,737,418.24.

What the second builder eventually got was more than 10 times what he would have received had he opted to take one million dollars. That is the power of momentum, it builds slowly but by the time it hits the peak, the result is usually mindboggling. Businesses that grow big understand this principle and they make capital of it.


They invest in the future

Businesses that want to grow big always have their eyes on the future. They know that the choices of today will shape their future, so they take time to invest in the future. They do this by investing in research and development (R&D). The edge of leading companies is that they know when market preferences are ready to change and they position themselves for maximum benefits from this. They are able to understand changing market preferences because they do not joke with R&D.

They also invest in new technology. The right technology confers advantage on organizations that have it. With the right technology, there is no limit to what organizations can do. So, businesses that plan to go far usually invest in the right technology.

Finally, they invest in their people not just by equipping them with the skills needed to perform their current tasks but also the ones that will be required in the future.

Organisations that invest in the future are not caught napping when the future arrives; rather they are ready and are positioned to make the most of the available opportunities.


They continuously reinvent themselves

Reinvention is rethinking the business to have a new model. The essence of this is to activate a change in the market or keep pace with market realities. The market is never in a static mode; it always evolves. The companies that constantly reinvent are the ones that are retained in the consciousness of the market and they are the ones that are profitable and last the distance.

In the book, Re-inventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change, Jason Jennings opines, “Your job as you know it and your business as it is currently run will eventually change. The only chance any of us has for prosperity is to constantly re-imagine, rethink and reinvent everything we do and how we do it in order to remain relevant. We must all become re-inventors, and we’d better do it quickly.”

IBM, which currently operates in over 170 countries, almost went under in 1993 when it posted an $8billion loss. The company, which was the leading personal computer manufacturer, ran a business model which allowed it to buy hardware components from smaller manufacturers and shipped its PCs preloaded with Microsoft Windows. With that model, it was making a lot of money until small companies flooded the market with cheaper PCs, popularly called “PC clones”. The PC clones each had cheap components and ran the same versions of Windows as IBM PCs. Since these were cheaper and could do almost the same thing that IBM products had been known for, there was a shift in market preference for them which resulted in hemorrhage for IBM. Following the unprecedented loss, Lou Gerstner was appointed as the company’s chief executive. The new CEO knew that IBM would have to reinvent itself or become history. He led the company to make the difficult choice of abandoning what it had always done. It moved from building personal computers to providing IT support services to companies. This is where the company actually hit gold. IBM, which later sold its PC unit to Lenovo, currently offers services in cloud computing, cognitive computing, commerce, finance, data and analytics, Internet of Things, IT infrastructure, mobile, and security.

To grow big and remain so, regular reinvention is sine qua non.


They convert failure to learning opportunities

While others see failure as something to be avoided and those who fail as those to be derided, companies that want to grow big have a different disposition. They see failure as a learning opportunity. They are guided by Albert Einstein’s statement that a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. So, they do not stop their employees from trying new things because they failed before. They provide them with the necessary support system to enable them bounce back if they fail.

Failure is a learning opportunity because it calls attention to what was not properly done that resulted in the unexpected outcome. But failure is only profitable if the opportunity of learning which it offers is seized. People or organizations do not get better just because they failed; they get better when they appropriate the lessons of that experience.

By the time he was 65 years of age, Colonel Harland Sanders was broke, all he had was a social security check of $105, his car and his chicken recipe. So, he decided to market his skill to restaurants in the United States of America. He moved from one restaurant to the other trying to license his recipe for 5 cents per chicken but his offer was rebuffed 1,009 times. But whenever any restaurateur turned down his proposal, he asked why the person took that position and if it had to do with the quality of the recipe, he used that information to improve the recipe. Eventually, he was able to persuade someone to agree to his offer. Nine years after he set out in his car on his marketing mission, his chicken was being sold in 600 restaurants across the country. That marked the beginning of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Today, KFC is global brand.


Last line

Businesses that neither go big nor aspire to do so usually go broke before going down.


How companies grow big
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How leaders build confidence in others https://tribuneonlineng.com/how-leaders-build-confidence-in-others/ Mon, 07 Oct 2019 02:40:06 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=251433 Tribune Online
How leaders build confidence in others


No matter how gifted, passionate, visionary or energetic a leader is, there is a ceiling to what he can solely accomplish. A leader achieves much more than his individual capacity through collaboration with others. This is called synergy. It is for the purpose of leveraging synergy that leaders take time to assemble great teams because […]

How leaders build confidence in others
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
How leaders build confidence in others


No matter how gifted, passionate, visionary or energetic a leader is, there is a ceiling to what he can solely accomplish. A leader achieves much more than his individual capacity through collaboration with others. This is called synergy. It is for the purpose of leveraging synergy that leaders take time to assemble great teams because of the recognition that the feat they are able to record is a function of the quality of the people working with them. What a leader does is to multiply his capacity and extend his reach through the people he surrounds himself with.

However, the assemblage of first class team members is not a guarantee for success. The leader still has to take a step further in order to ensure the optimization of the team members by building confidence in them.


What is confidence?

Confidence is having a firm understanding of and belief in your ability and the value you can add to either your organization or your clients. It is not an overestimation of your capacity; that is arrogance. Neither is it an underestimation of the same; that would be poor self-esteem. It is an appropriate assessment of what you are capable of doing at a point in time. Without a proper evaluation of your ability, there cannot be an adequate estimation of your person. Confidence is critical to productivity because a lack of it drains energy and creativity. Skill without confidence is nothing. Talent that is devoid of confidence is a disaster. Lack of confidence robs an individual of passion and vigour and what could have been a masterpiece is turned in as a jejune performance. Whoever is drained of confidence has the void filled with apathy and the effect is that he is able to achieve just a fraction of what he is capable of.


Sources of confidence

Self-confidence is both internal and external in nature. Self-confidence is hiked when an individual knows that he is not worthless but rather a value-adding member of a group. Those who have low self-confidence are plagued by the thought that neither they nor their contributions amount to much. They think that everybody around them believes this. Consequently, they fail to bring themselves to the point of doing as much as they are capable of doing. Eventually, what they fear catches up with them because they come up with low productivity.


A retreat into history: Mahatma Gandhi

After earning a Law degree and being called to the English Bar, Mahatma Gandhi got a brief from a woman, Mami Bai. When he got to court and was to cross examine a witness, Gandhi lost the confidence to put his thoughts together and interrogate the witness. Instead, he collapsed into a chair in the court to the utter amazement of everybody. His problem was that he never thought he was fit for what he had to do. He never believed in his ability to perform the functions of a lawyer. He later offered to refund the 30 rupees he had billed the client. However, the same Gandhi was later to shrug off his timidity and refused to be cowed by his South African oppressors and was also able to shake the British Empire to its very foundation as he led the nation of India in a revolt against colonialism.

How did the timorous Gandhi shed the toga of low self-esteem to the extent that he was able to challenge the almighty British authority? At the initial stage, he had to over-prepare himself, sometimes having to rehearse ad infinitum (without memorizing) nearly everything he had to say. As he gained confidence after each encounter, he became more surefooted and was able to speak off the cuff once the line of discussion was defined.

The point is that the key to self-confidence is competence which, more often than not, is a product of preparation. The more prepared a person is the more competence he gains and the more confidence he has in his ability.


External sources of confidence

Irrespective of a team member’s level of self-confidence, an inappropriate utterance or a negative suggestion by the leader will deflate it and make him look ineffective and lower his self-esteem. Every member looks up to the leader; he is seen as the final assessor. Therefore, a leader’s actions and inactions, with respect to the members, go a long way either to boost their confidence or rob them of same. So, the leader is the most important external source of self-confidence for team members. Whether an individual realizes his full potentialities or not rests largely on how the leader builds confidence in him or fails to do this. One of the responsibilities of a leader is to help others increase their belief in themselves. This is done by helping them to appreciate and build confidence in their abilities. A leader is not supposed to make his followers eternally dependent on him; rather, he is supposed to build confidence in them to the extent that they are able to conduct their affairs without having to revert to him. A leader achieves this by showing that he believes in the protégé. A leader who wants his followers to be tied to his apron string perpetually is not leading correctly.


How leaders build confidence in others

There are many ways leaders build confidence in their followers. Some of them are discussed hereunder.



According to Abraham Maslow in his hierarchy of needs, the most basic of man’s needs is love. A leader demonstrates this to his followers by expressing appreciation to them. A good leader is quite generous with appreciation and praises for any exceptional act carried out by those he leads. By showing appreciation, confidence is built because the follower’s belief in himself is deepened; he is encouraged to do more of what is appreciated. A ‘thank you for a wonderful job’ or ‘this is great’ said to a team member is a tonic to him because it is a mark of recognition of his worth. This is even more effective when it is done in the presence of others.

To help team members believe in themselves, the leader has a responsibility to appreciate every positive contribution they make. A leader must deliberately appreciate the attributes he wants his people to develop. Each time a staff member exhibits such attribute, the leader must endeavour to appreciate it. This encourages the staff to do more of that. It is, however, important to ensure that what is appreciated is significant so that the appreciation does not lose its essence.


Focus on strength

A leader is supposed to focus on the strength of his team members, not the weaknesses. In most cases, the leader’s focus becomes the follower’s focus as well. If the leader should focus on the follower’s areas of strength, this will lead the follower to also pay attention to these areas and do all in his powers to develop them. Contrariwise, if a leader always talks about the weaknesses of the team member, that is what engages the mind of the follower and he will neglect the strength. This is counter-productive because it s easier to get more from the areas of strength than from the areas of weakness. So, as a way of building confidence in others, it is best that leaders focus on their areas of strength instead of highlighting their weak points.


Don’t micro-manage

Leaders who do not give free hand to their subordinates kill the creativity, initiative and confidence of the subordinates. Allowing people to have a sense of being in control does a lot to their confidence. The thinking is that “for the boss to allow me to do this, he must have a lot of confidence in me and I must give a good account of myself.” But when a leader does not give enough room for those working with him to work without him having to breathe down their necks, the message is clear that the leader does not have confidence in the people. If the leader does not have confidence in the people he works with, it would be difficult for them to have confidence in themselves.


Show understanding in failure

The road to being a success is strewn with many failures. So, it is not unlikely that those working with you will fail at one point or the other. When this happens, it is not the time to hang them or let them know how worthless they have been all along. It is time to show compassion and understanding. It is time to let them know that you will be with them and support them. It is time to let them know that failing does not make a person a failure. It is time to let them know that failing is learning how not to go about an activity in future. Doing this will help them to overcome the distress of failing and boost their confidence level.



Apart from helping people to hone their skills, sending staff members on training programmes passes a message to them that their contribution is valued. Training staff is an investment in them. Since no one invests in a worthless person, the staff members that are sent for training see themselves as being valuable to their organizations and this boosts their confidence level and encourages them to do more for the organization.


Be a model and a teacher

To build confidence in others, a leader must not only model what he wants to see in them, he must also inculcate this in them. A leader must practise what he preaches for it to make sense to others but stopping at that point is inappropriate; he must also be able to teach his followers how to become who he has become. This is done by paying attention to their growth and spending time with them to share his thoughts and knowledge with them. The effort of the leader to spend time with them and share experience with them increases their confidence level and they believe that they can become as good as the leader. As observed by Winston Churchill, “If you want a person to demonstrate a virtue, impute that virtue to him in advance.”


Last line

When a leader imbues self-confidence in a team member, he sets him up for exponential growth.

How leaders build confidence in others
Tribune Online

Synthesis: The leader’s power of cohesion https://tribuneonlineng.com/synthesis-the-leaders-power-of-cohesion/ Mon, 30 Sep 2019 00:28:33 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=249377 Tribune Online
Synthesis: The leader’s power of cohesion


It is not for nothing that the era we are in is called the information age. Wherever you turn, there is a swarm of information, solicited and unsolicited. No one can rightly complain of insufficient information as there is an inflow of this from various sources. However, as helpful as information is to a leader, […]

Synthesis: The leader’s power of cohesion
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Synthesis: The leader’s power of cohesion


It is not for nothing that the era we are in is called the information age. Wherever you turn, there is a swarm of information, solicited and unsolicited. No one can rightly complain of insufficient information as there is an inflow of this from various sources. However, as helpful as information is to a leader, its deluge could be harmful. When a leader is bombarded with information, the decision-making process, rather than being aided, becomes hampered and the leader is thrown into a state of confusion as he ventures into making the most of the available information. This is why a leader needs to have a handle on synthesizing.

Synthesizing is the ability to generate new perspectives from existing elements. Synthesis is neither a summary nor a fusion of ideas and elements from different sources but a reliance on current materials and items to produce completely new thoughts. As observed by Bob and Gregg Vanourek in their book, Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical and Enduring Organisations, synthesis takes A + B + C and then derives D, where D does not only encompass the essence of A, B and C but also adds something new that resonates deeply with the people. They also say that synthesis simplifies and explains, adding, “Those who synthesize can touch people deeply. Synthesis is a powerful and essential leadership skill.”

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A leader’s success is often hinged on his ability to mobilize his people towards achieving a specified goal. More often than not team members hold different views about the same matter and are motivated to hold such views by different factors. So, outright rejection of such views may precipitate cracks in the team as team members may wonder why their views are turned down and may not be willing to give their all to the preferred idea. Therefore, the onus is on the leader to integrate the views of the team members while not jettisoning his own. Thus, it is important that the leader should possess the ability to synthesize. According to Howard Gardner, who wrote The Five Minds of the Future, the synthesizing leader takes information from disparate sources, understands and evaluates that information objectively, and puts it together in ways that make sense to the synthesizer and also to other persons. So, for a leader who wants to build a cohesive team, possessing the synthesizing skill is sine qua non.

Synthesis is a skill that can be developed. Here are ways of developing the skill.


Analytical thinking

A synthesizer does not take an idea lock, stock and barrel, he has to consider such idea with a view to separating the shaft from the grain. To effectively do this, he needs to be analytical in his thinking. Analytical thinking is the ability to take apart a load of complex information to extract the hidden gems so as to be able to arrive at a conclusion or proffer a solution. To analyze is to consider something through different points of view with the aim of establishing a cause and an effect. It is also the ability to be impersonal in the deconstruction process. To make a success of analytical reasoning, personal biases have to be interred to ensure that the best decision is reached.

Analytical thinking requires asking some basic questions to get the import of a piece of information. The first is what is the kernel or the heart of this information? In other words what is this information about? What is its essence?

The second question: Is it important to us? Do we need it? If it is important, why is it important? What changes will it engender? Is there anything already in the system that is doing or offering exactly what this promises?

The third question is ‘How do we make use of this information? Is it something that could be deployed immediately or something that has to wait till a later date?’

Once these questions are answered one way or the other, it becomes easy to synthesize the information.


Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. It is a way of thinking in which one doesn’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions as presented but having an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions. It requires wanting to see what evidence is involved to support a particular argument or conclusion.

A critical thinker raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely. He also gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively and comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards.


Integrative thinking

To become a synthesizer one needs to have the integrative thinking ability. Although the concept of integrative thinking was first used by Graham Douglas in 1986, it is Roger Martin, former Dean of the Rotman School of Management at The University of Toronto, who has popularized it and even developed a theory on it. According to Martin, integrative thinking is the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each.

Integrative thinking is making the best of two opposing ideas without losing the benefit of either. It is the ability to turn two opposing ideas into the raw material for producing a new one. Integrative thinking is the foundation for synthesizing. The difference between the two is that while integrative thinking is limited to two ideas, synthesis has no such restrictions.

Martin further states that “Integrative thinkers build models rather than choose between them. Their models include consideration of numerous variables not just a subset of the above. Their models capture the complicated, multi-faceted and multidirectional causal relationships between the key variables in any problem. Integrative thinkers consider the problem as a whole, rather than breaking it down and farming out the parts. Finally, they creatively resolve tensions without making costly trade-offs, turning challenges into opportunities.”

Becoming an integrative thinker requires moving away from the conventional thinking of simplifying or reducing the complexity of the cognitive process to reach a resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible into viewing problems in a more holistic manner. This attitude helps the integrative thinker to discover solutions that elude the conventional thinker.

Big picture

To properly synthesize, the leader must have the big picture in focus at all times. The leader should always guard against allowing himself to be hemmed in by a narrow perspective. In an organization, every sectional head will be motivated by his parochial interests. This will determine his views and position on a number of matters. He will want to push his views just for the benefit of his section. But the overall leader cannot afford to take that route, he must always bear in mind the big picture and doing this will help him to bring all sections and segments of the organization into focus while taking his decisions. So, rather than take a decision that will favour just a section, a synthesizing leader, with the aid of the big picture, is able to take a decision that will not be sectional but all-encompassing.


Recourse to the vision

One of the major side effects of information overload is the temptation to lose sight of the vision. In the information age, things change almost at the speed of light and the leader is almost always pushed to the wall about having to change his focus every time. But those who change the vision of their organization all the time are often left behind by those who are focused. To synthesize effectively, a leader must work in line with the vision of his organization. Adherence to the vision is a critical factor in the sustainability of an organization. Those who want to practise synthesis must not lose focus of the vision.


Last line

When a leader develops his synthesizing skills, not only does he build a more cohesive team, he also gets more value from those he leads.

Synthesis: The leader’s power of cohesion
Tribune Online

Allen Onyema: Winner of L&M Leader of the Month Award https://tribuneonlineng.com/allen-onyema-winner-of-lm-leader-of-the-month-award/ Sun, 29 Sep 2019 23:15:20 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=249392 Tribune Online
Allen Onyema: Winner of L&M Leader of the Month Award

Allen Onyema

Chief Allen Onyema is the winner of the September 2019 L&M Leader of the Month Award. Allen Onyema exemplifies the fulcrum of strong leadership which is compassion. This was demonstrated in his volunteering to evacuate Nigerians who were recently subjected to xenophobic attacks in South Africa. When great leaders see a need, they take the […]

Allen Onyema: Winner of L&M Leader of the Month Award
Tribune Online

Tribune Online
Allen Onyema: Winner of L&M Leader of the Month Award

Allen Onyema

Chief Allen Onyema is the winner of the September 2019 L&M Leader of the Month Award.

Allen Onyema exemplifies the fulcrum of strong leadership which is compassion. This was demonstrated in his volunteering to evacuate Nigerians who were recently subjected to xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

When great leaders see a need, they take the lead to address such need. They do not wait for any prompting and they do not stop until the need is addressed. That is what Onyema did with his gesture.

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Allen Onyema, a 1987 Law graduate of the University of Ibadan, was called to the Nigerian bar in 1989. He joined Nwizugbo and Company, a legal firm, in 1990 and was appointed Head of Chambers in 1992. He left the company shortly after that to establish his own outfit, Onyema and Company. Later, he diversified his business, veering into real estate as well as export and import business. In 2013, he established Air Peace, a private airline which provides passenger and charter services to major cities of Nigeria and flies to several West African destinations and the Middle East.

An advocate of peaceful coexistence, Onyema in 2005, initiated the First Nigeria Forever Project, an initiative for the promotion of broad nationalism as opposed to ethnic nationalism. He subsequently won for Nigeria the hosting right for Global Conference on Nonviolence and Peace in 2007.

For his demonstration of compassion and taking the lead in meeting a need, Mr Allen Onyema is L&M Leader of the Month for September 2019, the first in the series.

Allen Onyema: Winner of L&M Leader of the Month Award
Tribune Online