Leadership & Management – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com Breaking News in Nigeria Today Sun, 19 Jan 2020 19:17:49 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/logo.jpg Leadership & Management – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com 32 32 118125416 Power of leading intentionally https://tribuneonlineng.com/power-of-leading-intentionally/ Mon, 20 Jan 2020 02:57:17 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285688 Tribune Online
Power of leading intentionally

Power

The rationale behind intentional leadership is that good results are not achieved by mere wishing or leaving things to chances. Hence, intentional leaders are deliberate in their actions. Guided by Murphy’s Law, which states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong and motivated by Abraham Lincoln’s words that the best way to predict the […]

Power of leading intentionally
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Power of leading intentionally

Power

The rationale behind intentional leadership is that good results are not achieved by mere wishing or leaving things to chances. Hence, intentional leaders are deliberate in their actions. Guided by Murphy’s Law, which states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong and motivated by Abraham Lincoln’s words that the best way to predict the future is to create it, they take deliberate steps that enable them to steer the ship of their organizations in the particular way they want so as to minimize unpleasant surprises. As a result, they are able to make the best choices, engage in the right activities and make the best use of available resources.

Intentionality heightens focus and when focus is in force, productivity is unleashed because focus does not give room to distractions. When the totality of one’s energy is channeled to what is important, success is guaranteed. Contrary is the case when one is unable to put all of one’s energy in one direction. Focus is likened to concentrated light. Diffused light has no effect. But concentrated light, when passed through a magnifying glass, can burn a paper or even a fresh leaf. When light is more focused, it becomes a laser and laser can burn steel and destroy cancer. So, with focus, targets are easily achieved. This is why those who lead with intentionality are by far more productive and way more result-oriented than those who are not.

 

How to lead intentionally

To lead intentionally, the following steps need to be taken.

 

Understand the purpose of leadership

Leading intentionally starts with the leader understanding why he occupies the position.  Unless purpose is understood, misuse is unavoidable. But the reality is that many of the people who occupy leadership positions have scant understanding of what they are supposed to do in their exalted positions, hence they make a mess of the opportunity because they think it is all about them. Leadership positions are not primarily for the benefit of the position holders because a leader’s essence is to serve the people and the organization. If a leader does not serve the people, he fails the test of leadership. This is where the term servant leadership arises from. But real service is possible only if the leader understands why he is in office.

To be regarded as a success, a leader has to ensure three things happen. First, the leader has to deploy available resources to produce tangible results that will gladden all stakeholders. The leader is appointed and entrusted with the resources of the organization because he is expected to utilize same to get results that will make everyone happy and proud to be associated with the organisation. If he does not do this, he is not a successful leader. Then, the leader has a responsibility to improve the well being of the people. If their lot is not better as a consequence of the activities of the leader, he is not successful. Finally, the leader must strengthen the system and make the organization sustainable. A leader who does not leave behind a stronger system or structure than he inherited is anything but successful.

Once the leader gets to understand the purpose of leadership, he is able to channel the whole of his energy towards achieving this by taking deliberate steps that will make it a reality.

 

Boiling purpose down to goals

While the purpose of leadership is universal, the leader has to narrow it down to his own specific situation, in view of the corporate vision, by determining what he has to do to achieve the purpose of leadership in his own organisation. These become his goals. He must decide what needs to be done to produce the results that will make all stakeholders happy and resolve to do it. He must determine what he will do to improve the lot of the people and what he must do to strengthen the organization and make it sustainable.

Boiling down the purpose to specifics will give the leader’s activities focus and prevent deployment of resources wrongly.

 

Daily activities

After defining what his goals as a leader are, he has to go a step further by distilling these into daily goals. He then has to outline activities that will be undertaken to ensure that the daily targets are achieved. To achieve the overall purpose of producing heartwarming results, empowering the people and strengthening the system, the leader has to take definite steps that will take him closer to the objective on a daily basis.

 

Coming up with strategies

The leader must device a means by which he will achieve his goals for his organizations. Visions are great, goals are excellent but neither of these can happen without a strategy. Strategies are the bridge between where an organization currently is and where it wants to be. Strategies translate goals into tangibles. So, after coming up with the plan for his organization, the leader must develop the strategy that will translate the goals into reality because it is strategy that actually drives the organization to the envisioned future.

Without an appropriate strategy, a company’s vision will be a mirage. It is for this reason that Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes, in their book, Exploring Corporate Strategy, submit that it is strategy which determines the direction and scope of an organization over the long term.

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.

Strategy is how an organization plans to achieve its vision. Strategy speaks of the steps an organization intends to take to arrive at its envisioned destination; its action plan to achieve its vision. Three factors are essential to making a strategy work. These are; right people, right technology or tools and right environment. This is why it is said that strategy involves the deployment of resources at the disposal of an organization for the actualization of its vision.

 

Raising a team

As important as strategy is to the actualization of set goals, without getting the right team, it amounts to nothing because raising the right team is critical to achieving a goal. This is because getting a task accomplished often requires input from different people. Therefore, great leaders spare no effort to get good members on their teams. They painstakingly and deliberately source men and women who they believe have the capacity to contribute to the realization of the vision which they have for their organization or group. They go after those who will bring their expertise and experience to bear on the group’s aspiration to achieve a goal. With a good team in place, the aspiration of the group becomes realizable.

The strength of a team is its bonding. A team enjoys synergy when the activity of each member synchronizes with others’ and builds on them just as it is with the movement of a millipede. A millipede is able to advance because the movement and the pace of its many limbs are in harmony, with one building on the other. If any of the limbs is out of sync with others, the movement of the millipede is impeded. The same goes for a team; the success of a team is hinged on harmony among its members. Without bonding in a team, everyone works at cross purposes and what should give it momentum saps it of drive.

 

Discipline

According to Jim Rohn, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Intentional leaders understand this fully and sign for the pain of discipline by subjecting themselves to a regimen of restrictions and self-denials to achieve their daily goals.

Discipline is the most visible difference between intentional and unintentional leaders. It is also the major factor in the results they achieve. While unintentional leaders are unwilling to undergo the inconvenience foisted on them by discipline, intentional leaders, as a result of the motivation of the goals they want to accomplish, undertake the hated but necessary tasks that will ensure the realization of the desired end and avoid the pleasurable but limiting activities that will short-circuit their plans and aspirations. They do not spare themselves; they endure the grind and keep pushing the frontiers and ensure they do whatever they need to do so that they can achieve the goals they have set for themselves. They eventually hit the target they have set for themselves.

 

Last line

Without intentionality, leadership is reduced to hit or miss.

Power of leading intentionally
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How leaders build winning teams https://tribuneonlineng.com/how-leaders-build-winning-teams/ Mon, 13 Jan 2020 02:55:04 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=283313 Tribune Online
How leaders build winning teams

According to leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, one is too small a number to achieve greatness. The import of this is that there is a limit to what an individual operating all by himself can accomplish, irrespective of his vigour, passion or talent. Anyone working alone can only realize a fraction of his potential. Nothing […]

How leaders build winning teams
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Tribune Online
How leaders build winning teams

According to leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, one is too small a number to achieve greatness. The import of this is that there is a limit to what an individual operating all by himself can accomplish, irrespective of his vigour, passion or talent. Anyone working alone can only realize a fraction of his potential. Nothing of significance has ever been achieved by lone rangers. It takes the collaborative efforts of a group for the best in individuals to be realised. Hence, the aptness of the Chinese proverb, “Behind an able man there are always other able men.”

To maximize their potential and make it easy for them to achieve their set objectives, great leaders raise great teams. They bring on board persons who they believe can contribute significantly to the realization of their goals. By so doing, they multiply their capacity and efforts and get a result that would ordinarily have been beyond them.

One good thing about a team is that the collaboration benefits everyone involved in the process because synergy is built and the output outstrips individuals’ inputs. That is the basis for the definition of a team as ‘together everyone achieves more.’ It also informed the statement credited to former President Lyndon Johnson of the United States of America that “there are no problems we cannot solve together and very few that we can solve by ourselves.”

 

Building successful teams

But having a team is not a guarantee for success. Teams have the same capacity for failure as they have for success. What puts a team on the path of success is the rigour that goes into its composition. Unless properly selected and carefully managed, a team can foist failure on a leader rather than propel him to success.

So, to build a winning team, a leader must bear the following in mind.

 

Great teams are built around a vision, not a person

The secret to building a successful team is to build it around a vision, not a person. Teams fail in their mission when they are built around individuals because that would be veering off the purpose of the group. An individual does not constitute a team just as a tree does not make a forest. In the same vein, though a vision may proceed from the bosom of a person, that individual is not the vision; the group must be distinguished from its leader. So, it is important to understand that every team exists to achieve a purpose, not to pander to the leader. Building a team around a person is a recipe for failure because eventually the team will crumble like a pack of cards. Therefore, it is critical that the leader gets on board people who have the right skill sets, those who can move the group towards the realization of its goals rather than people who the leader feels comfortable with. While, amity is important among team members, the focus of the leader should not be populating his team with people he has affinity for but people with the requisite capacity to help the team deliver on its mandate.

Football clubs are very good at this; they go for whoever they think will give them the result they want. It does not matter to them whether the person does not speak the language of the community or share their cultural or religious belief; what matters to them is what the fellow can bring to the table. The driving force is the vision. Everything they do is about the vision to raise a tournament-winning team. Lionel Messi is an Argentine, Luis Suarez is a Uruguayan and Antoine Griezmann a Frenchman. The three play for FC Barcelona, a Spanish club. The club could have made do with Spaniards and resigned itself to whatever it is able to accomplish with players from the country of its location. But because the club is committed to raising a world-beating team, it resolved not to build its team around Spanish nationals but around a vision and has gone beyond its shores to get the best legs that are delivering its desires to it.

 

Look out for the attitude

It has been said that attitude is everything. It is hard to fault the statement because attitude forms the worldview which determines what an individual believes, how he comports himself and conducts his affairs. While possession of skills is good, combining this with the right attitude is better. With the right attitude, working in a team becomes easy and contributing to the success of the group is a given. However, when the attitude is wrong, the skills would be of little value because collaborating with other members of the team to achieve a common goal becomes difficult. It is for this reason that it is important to have a peep at the attitude of a prospective team member before bringing such on board.

The effect of a wrong attitude is not limited to the individual because it spreads fast in a team like a gaseous poison. Once the spread starts, it is quite difficult to stop it. Hence, smart leaders guard against enlisting on their teams people whose attitudes are not in tandem with the corporate vision.

 

Communicate the vision

After assembling a team, it is important that the leader communicates the vision to the members with a view to helping everyone understand what is ahead, how it would be done and their role in the whole enterprise. Without the communication of the vision, there cannot be a buy-in by members of the team. Until members buy into the vision, they cannot release the whole of their ability to its actualization.

A great leader seizes every opportunity to intimate team members with the vision of the group. This is very important because aside providing the needed information about where the organization is headed; it also motivates the team members concerning the task at hand. Nearly everyone will want to be part of a great move. Being told about what the organization aspires to accomplish and the individual’s role in this is a fillip for commitment to the task.

 

Match skills to tasks

It is not enough to get the best available hands to be on a team, it is equally important that the individual be properly positioned to perform the task for which he has been engaged. Can you imagine Lionel Messi being put in the left full back position in a football match? While he may display some brilliance in that position, the team will be denied the full benefits of his ability. Messi is a striker. To get the best from him, he has to be given a striking role.

The same goes for other engagements. Individuals have their areas of strength; unless they are allowed to operate in their areas of strength, they can’t give their best.

This puts the task of getting to know every member of the team fairly well on the leader. Apart from what others say about a team member, the leader must make his own findings on the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and how to get the best value from engaging the individual. It is important to find out where the individual had been, what he had done and other similar information that can help the leader to assign the right tasks to him.

It would be a terrible waste to get the world’s best right wing player and put him in a left wing position.

 

Avoid those with hidden agenda

People aspire to join a team for various reasons; some noble, some ignoble. A team is like a chain and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If a team member has other reasons for joining the group besides achieving the corporate goal, he becomes a weak link because he would be working at cross-purposes with the rest of the team. So, it is important that the leader carries out an independent investigation about the motivation of an individual for wanting to be part of the team. Getting to know the rationale behind every team member’s desire for wanting in on the team is critical to the sanctity of the team. A good leader does not joke with this.

 

Be the model

A leader must be a model. He must set examples for other members of the team. He must live the vision he wants to accomplish. He must walk the talk. Getting a team to work for a goal is easy if the leader is transparently committed to its actualization. Every member takes a cue from the leader. If the leader does what is right, most of the team members will fall in line. If the leader compromises the process, he has shown others what to do. A leader is a mirror that reflects the aspiration of his organization; whatever he does is what others will practise. That is why Mahatma Gandhi says leaders should be the change they want to see.

 

Last line

Nothing works like a team whose goal is the actualization of a shared vision.

How leaders build winning teams
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Achieving extraordinary feats in 2020 https://tribuneonlineng.com/achieving-extraordinary-feats-in-2020/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 02:38:40 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=281041 Tribune Online
Achieving extraordinary feats in 2020

extraordinary

The best way to make 2020 extraordinary is to shun mediocrity and that means not being satisfied with doing just enough. Mediocrity creeps in on many people surreptitiously. Quite a number of those who would have positively affected their world fail to make a definite and defining mark because they get sucked into the average […]

Achieving extraordinary feats in 2020
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Achieving extraordinary feats in 2020

extraordinary

The best way to make 2020 extraordinary is to shun mediocrity and that means not being satisfied with doing just enough. Mediocrity creeps in on many people surreptitiously. Quite a number of those who would have positively affected their world fail to make a definite and defining mark because they get sucked into the average life unconsciously. Their undoing is that they keep measuring their impact by the accomplishments of those around them. So, rather than reaching for the moon, they feel content with companying with nightingales that cannot go beyond the height of trees. By so doing, not only do they deprive the world the benefit of the fullness of their capacity, they also do themselves in by failing to become who they are capable of becoming.

 

Mediocrity

Mediocrity is being ordinary or average. It is a state of being unexceptional, uninspiring or common. But beyond these descriptions, it is being less than one’s best. It is operating below one’s installed capacity. It is common to be common. It is easy to fall into the trap of the average life. It is convenient to be mediocre. But while it is easy to be ordinary, the cost to self and others is huge.

The tragedy of the African continent is its sense of containment; its satisfaction with mediocrity. Very few Africans strive to reach their optimum capacity. Very few African companies aim to beat the world. Very few African leaders strive to be exceptional. Nigeria is satisfied that it is better than Liberia, forgetting that its natural and human resources outstrip those of Liberia. Liberia is pleased that it is stronger than Sudan; Sudan is content that it is not in the same league with Central African Republic.

It is the same in the business world; MTN wants to be better than Globacom, not Virgin Mobile or Orange Telecoms. First Bank is satisfied that its balance sheet is bigger than those of some other local banks; it never aspires to beat HSBC. University of Ibadan engages in chest thumping for being ranked the best in the country, though it does not make the list of the best 1000 universities in the globe.

It is this comfort that the continent has with mediocrity that makes it the home of diseases, poverty, corruption, backwardness and squalor in spite of its enormous natural endowments. Africa is the continent where mediocrity is celebrated and average accomplishment is praised to high heavens.

 

Moving into extraordinary life in 2020

Nobody achieves extraordinary feats by being content with the ordinary; becoming extraordinary starts with being fed up with ordinary life and thirsting for more. Outstanding success is never accidental; it is a product of deliberate efforts. To move into the realm of being an extraordinary person or organization in 2020 requires taking some steps. Here are some of them.

 

Have a compelling goal

A goal is that particular thing which we want to accomplish by a given date in future. According to John Northcross, a Psychology Professor at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the success rate of people who set goals is 10 times higher than those who do not. Those who do not set goals do not go far because they are not constrained by any vision and feel justified to fritter time, resources and opportunities. Since those who do not set goals do not have any target, they do not hit any. Therefore, goal setting is of great importance for those who want to make a mark in life because it births focus and where there is focus, there will be optimization of resources which scales up results. No one can record extraordinary achievements without having a compelling goal. In the face of a strong goal, mediocrity stands no chance.

 

Look beyond the present

The good is the enemy of the best. Whatever has been accomplished at the moment is an indication of what could be achieved with greater determination and commitment. Therefore, to go beyond the current level of accomplishment will require a hunger for something better than what is already available. It is this hunger for something better that took the world from the telephone invented by Graham Bell to the Android and the iphone series that we have now. It is the same thirst that has brought about the many innovations that the world has witnessed. To optimize your capacity, there must be a hunger for more than what is available. You must not be content with having that which is good because for as long as you are comfortable with the good, the extraordinary will be a mirage.

 

Rise above environmental limitations

The environment plays a major role in determining how far one goes. The environment can either stimulate growth or stunt it. But the onus is on the individual or the organization to resolve to rise above the limitation imposed by the environment.

The story is told about two sharks that were born at the same time. One was thrown into the ocean while the other was put in an aquarium. Three years later, the one in the ocean had become quite huge but the one that was kept in the aquarium could not grow bigger than the aquarium despite having the capacity to be as big as a ship. So, the environment is a significant determinant of how far an organization or individual goes. But that is if it is allowed. In every community of the world, there are people who have defied environmental limitations to live their dreams. They were able to do this first because they had a dream and second because they were determined to live that dream. There is nothing that is impossible. Every difficulty thaws when confronted with strong resolve. So, if an organization that is located in the remotest part of Africa resolves to play on the world stage and is prepared to pay the price, it shall be done.

 

Question status quo

One factor that has contributed to growth in the West is their attitude of challenging status quo. No belief is seen as sacred. They do not regard questioning tradition as a sacrilege. This has resulted in exponential growth in every aspect of human endeavour. But reverse is the case in Africa. The average African believes what he is told. He is told not to ask questions and he complies. He is told that is how it is done and he toes the line. He is told not to go beyond a point and he takes that as the gospel. He never wants to rock the boat. He never wants to disrupt the system. He never wants to shake anything up. He plays along even when the status quo is to his disadvantage. This is one of the reasons mediocrity rules on the continent.

To become extraordinary, challenging the status quo is sine qua non. When status quo is challenged, the level of reasoning is raised and new possibilities become evident. But when beliefs, traditions and status quo are left unchallenged, nothing changes.

 

Depart from the majority

Oxfam, an international confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty, gave a shocking revelation in January 2016. According to the organization, 1 per cent of the world’s population controls as much wealth as the remaining 99 per cent. This means 50 per cent of the wealth of the world is in the hands of just 1 per cent, while the remaining 50 per cent is shared by 99 per cent of the population.

This is also the reality in many spheres of life. Less than 10 per cent of any population is really in control of the resources available to that population. The import of this is that average people are in the majority. So, going with the majority is signing up for a life of ordinariness. Those who live the average life are so many because their pursuit is convenience. But convenience never produces excellence. Whatever will be extraordinary will come at a cost. The ultra successful people understand this, hence they never rest on their oars; they move from one level of accomplishment to another, trying to beat even their own records.

Many fall into the trap of the ordinary life because they find comfort in the company of average people who are in the majority. To live an extraordinary life that optimizes ability, you have to company with those who will challenge you to be your best, not those who feel comfortable with your mediocrity. If you company with five average people, you are the sixth, irrespective of your personal capacity. In the same vein, if you walk with five exceptional people, you are the sixth.

 

Never give up in the face of difficulty

It is easy to throw in the towel if at the initial stage the result is nothing compared with the invested efforts. But that is the thinking of the average people. Those who want to actualize achieve extraordinary feats never believe that any difficulty is too much for them to handle. They keep at the problem until they find a way.

 

Jack Ma

The odds seemed stacked against Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group. He failed so many examinations that nobody expected him to make it through the university but he did. In his own words, “I failed a key primary school test two times, I failed the middle school test three times, I failed the college entrance exam two times…” He sought admission to Harvard University in the United States of America 10 times and each time he was turned down. He ended up at Hangzhou Normal University, where he studied English Language. After graduation from the university, he applied for 30 different jobs, including the police, and was rejected by all of them. At a point in his life, he applied for a job along with 23 others at KFC, all the others were employed, he was the only one turned down by the company. When he could not secure employment, he decided to become an entrepreneur. Though the first two attempts ended up in ashes, he refused to give up.

During a sponsored trip to the United States in 1995, Ma came across computers and the internet for the first time. At that time, computers were quite costly in China while the internet was non-existent. He immediately saw the opportunity and decided that it was time for China to have the internet and decided to introduce e-commerce in the country. On his return to China, he persuaded 17 of his friends to join him in setting up Alibaba. He was able to raise $60,000 from his friends. He later raised $20million from SoftBank and $5million from Goldman Sachs in 1999. Since then, the company has grown so much that it is now in every part of the world, thus making Ma the richest man in China and one of the richest globally.

 

Seek to know more

Knowledge informs action. The richer you are in knowledge, the richer your life will be. To become extraordinary, you must be committed to a lifetime of learning. The world is not static, things change every time. Knowledge becomes obsolete at an alarming rate. To live an exceptional life this year, you have to grow in knowledge on a daily basis. The quality of your knowledge will determine the quality of your performance. You can only do new things when you know new things. If you do not grow in knowledge, you will be shoved aside by those who never get tired of acquiring knowledge and practising what they know. Every market leader that loses its edge must first have lost its appetite for updating its knowledge. The organizations that are the rave of the market are those who keep improving themselves by giving their people new skill sets so as to enable them do new things. To become extraordinary, stretch yourself to the limit possible. When you commit yourself to a ruthless self development programme, you will be so far ahead of the majority that your distinction becomes crystal clear.

 

Last line

For those willing to pay the price, extraordinary life is within reach.

 

Achieving extraordinary feats in 2020
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Getting ready for the new year https://tribuneonlineng.com/getting-ready-for-the-new-year/ Mon, 30 Dec 2019 02:56:41 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=279595 Tribune Online
Getting ready for the new year

In just two days, 2019 will become history and 2020 will be here. The new year presents a vista of opportunities for everyone and every organization to be better, stronger, wealthier, more productive and more successful. But achieving any of these is not a given, it is contingent on what is done in the year. […]

Getting ready for the new year
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Tribune Online
Getting ready for the new year

In just two days, 2019 will become history and 2020 will be here. The new year presents a vista of opportunities for everyone and every organization to be better, stronger, wealthier, more productive and more successful. But achieving any of these is not a given, it is contingent on what is done in the year. To have a better outing in 2020 than you had in the outgoing year, certain things have to be put in place. Continuing with what was done in the receding year will produce the result that was recorded in the outgoing year.

A new year is an opportunity to have new dreams and new expectations. It provides a chance to chart a new course. It offers the prospect of rewriting your history and setting yourself on a new path. It is a chance to get better, be more productive and more successful. The new year is a blank cheque. A blank cheque holds two possibilities; something great or something ordinary, depending on what is filled on it. As observed by Alex Morritt, an American writer, whether a new year is a new chapter, a new verse, or just the same old story depends on us because we write our stories for the new year. Therefore, to have a better experience in the new year, the following have to be observed.

 

Review the outgoing year

Having a better outing in 2020 begins with reviewing how you performed in the current year. As observed by Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. Without a deliberate effort at reviewing your 2019 performance, rising above the current year’s level of success would be difficult because of the assumption that you are operating at your optimum. Taking time out to review your activities in the retreating year will put you in a better position to have a firm understanding of what actually happened in your space in the year under review.

The new year provides an opportunity for self appraisal with a view to jettisoning progress-limiting behaviours and activities so as to embrace success-enhancing ones. The new year offers a chance to have a new life only if we will take time to review the outgoing year.

To properly review the outgoing year, certain questions need to be asked. You need to ask yourself: What did I do well in the outgoing year? What did I not do well? Why did I do well what I did well? Why did I not do well what I did not do well? What worked for me? What did not work well for me? Did I manage my resources well? Did I give a good account of myself at all times? Was I at my best as often as possible? What great decisions did I make? What bad decisions did I make?

Providing honest answers to the questions will help in getting ready for the new year.

 

Reinforce

Reviewing activities of the outgoing year will bring to the fore aspects of your engagements where you did well and give you an understanding of your areas of strength. By understanding what worked in the outgoing year and why they worked will help you to know areas where you have competitive advantage and this is very vital in your preparation for the ensuing year. Once you know what works for you, you do more of it to have a better performance in the new year.

Reinforcing areas of strength is one of the secrets of successful organizations and individuals. They neither fritter resources nor waste opportunities; they concentrate their efforts on activities that give them the highest value, hence they keep getting better year after year. When organizations focus more on activities that create the highest value, not only do they minimize wastage, they also maximize revenue generation.

For MTN, the telecommunication company, 2016 was a particularly difficult year. The company reported an equity loss on a 51 per cent stake held in Nigeria Tower Interco, an infrastructure company, just as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) slammed a $5.1 billion fine on it for failing to disconnect improperly registered SIM cards. Although the fine was later reviewed to $1.1 billion, the two issues as well as others caused the company to pose a net loss of $260million at the end of 2016.

Going into 2017, the company reviewed its business activities and realized that what it did better than all telecommunication companies in Nigeria in 2016 was data provision and it was that which gave it the highest revenue. So MTN, in order to move away from the red and make its investors happy, decided to concentrate on data provision. So, in 2017, the company deployed more of its resources to data provision than any other of its other activities. By so doing, it grew its data revenue by 86.6 per cent and consequently its total revenue by 11.4 per cent. As a result, by the end of 2017, MTN Group bounced back to profitability with a $278.2 million net income.

 

Repair

Also reviewing activities of the outgoing year gives an understanding of areas that require improvement to get a better result in the ensuing year. On finding out these, great leaders and individuals take steps to correct them with a view to turning the tide in their favour in the new year.

In 2007, Starbucks was recording losses. The chairman, Howard Schultz, after reviewing and reflecting on the activities of the company, narrowed the cause of the trend to the company having lost its way. Being the leader, he knew it was his responsibility to lead the company back to its winning ways. According to him, the company was heading south because, “The pursuit of profit became our reason for being, and that’s not the reason that Starbucks is in business. We’re in the business of exceeding the expectations of our customers.”

Schultz knew that he had to repair what was wrong with the company by redirecting it towards its original vision, so he took 10,000 managers to New Orleans for a four-day conference as a way of reorienting them about the essence of the company. The 10,000 managers left the conference with “a tidal wave of energy.” Two years later, Starbucks started reporting record profits.

 

Re-strategise

According to Alan George Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, the essence of strategy is to win. He says, “Strategy is about winning, and you need to be very clear what winning means. In our view, it means three things — uniquely positioning a firm in its industry, creating sustainable advantage and delivering superior value versus the competition.”

So, strategy is the bridge between aspiration and actualization. However, if your strategy is not giving you as much success as you desire or you wish to record a higher level of success in the ensuing year than you recorded in 2019, then it is time to tinker with your strategy to deliver better results. As said by Lao Tzu, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

Lego, the toy manufacturing company, found to its chagrin in early 2000 that it was heading for the rocks as there was an avalanche of electronic toys which ate into its market share. This coincided with the veering of the company into the production of kid’s television show with the production of Galidor: Defenders of the Outer Dimension. But unfortunately, the 30-minute show, which ran on Fox Television network in the United States of America, did not fly and had to be rested after two seasons. This misadventure, coupled with the erosion of its market share by electronic toys and new designs that did not jell with the market, left Lego with almost a $1billion debt. Bankruptcy stared the company in the face but it did not file for bankruptcy, rather, it tinkered with its people and process and the narrative changed.

What Lego management did to get out of the dire strait was to first do a review of what led it to its near bankruptcy state and re-strategise. Then, it cut off all the non-essentials. It decided that it had always been a toy company and wanted to remain so. What hitherto had been the practice was that the designers were at liberty to come up with whatever designs caught their fancy and the management would go ahead to produce. But that changed. While the designers still had to come up with the designs, other categories of staff had to buy into them for the management to give the go ahead for their production. When this approach was employed, the market’s response began to change and Lego toys gradually regained the top spots.

 

When strategy changes, results follow suit.

 

Resolve

According to John Maxwell, the greatest gap in the world is that between what we know and what we do. After reviewing your activities for 2019 and finding out where you did well and where you faltered, that knowledge should lead to action that would make 2020 a better year. So, going forward, there must be a resolve to act on the knowledge to have a better outing in the ensuing year. Resolve to reinforce your strength, resolve to repair your weak points, resolve to re-strategise and resolve to succeed in 2020. When you have a strong resolve to succeed, no obstacle will be strong enough to stop you.

In 1924, Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motors, designed a new piston ring which not many experts gave a chance to succeed because of the designs in vogue at the time. But Honda was not bothered by experts’ opinions. He invested the whole of his life savings on the project. When that was not enough, he pawned his wife’s jewelry and put the proceeds in the project. Eventually, he got his vehicle out but initially the product was spurned. After a while, the car became the preference of Japan and other Asian countries.

As he was reveling in his success, his main factory was destroyed during World War II by the United States bomber planes in 1944. As if that was not bad enough, the following year, his second factory was leveled by an earthquake.

Soichiro Honda’s dreams and hopes were blown up, but he refused to give up and started the process of rebuilding the company. This time, the building was at a faster pace because he had already built a reputation. Honda Motors bounced back and it has been growing strong since then. To the credit of Soichiro Honda, the company that almost died as a dream posted a profit of $2.86billion in 2016.

To a determined mind, difficulties are the raw materials for increased productivity.

 

Last line

Will you progress or regress in 2020? The answer is not blowing in the wind, it is in your hands.

Getting ready for the new year
Tribune Online

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Leaders and business reform https://tribuneonlineng.com/leaders-and-business-reform/ Mon, 23 Dec 2019 02:58:40 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=278239 Tribune Online
Leaders and business reform

By Sulaimon Olanrewaju   One of the denominators of great leadership is the ability to see the invisible. A leader sees a need before it arises; sees opportunities before they become obvious, sees problems and gets the solution before they arrest everybody’s attention. He travels to the future ahead of his people and charts ways […]

Leaders and business reform
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Leaders and business reform

By Sulaimon Olanrewaju

 

One of the denominators of great leadership is the ability to see the invisible. A leader sees a need before it arises; sees opportunities before they become obvious, sees problems and gets the solution before they arrest everybody’s attention. He travels to the future ahead of his people and charts ways to take the people to the envisioned future.

A leadership void of vision is a disaster. Really, visionless leadership is an affliction on the people and the system. The worst tragedy that can befall an organization or a people is being saddled with visionless leadership. It is akin to a blind person leading a group of blind people; their predictable end is not enviable.

A major responsibility of anyone in leadership position is keeping an eye on the trend so as to be able to know what the future portends. To lose sight of the trend is to be a laggard. The strength of leadership, more often than not, is in the ability to effectively predict the trend of event in an industry or a sphere of life at any point. This is important because the only thing that does not change is change. Needs of the market will never remain the same, they will keep changing. It behooves on the leadership of an organization to see what the market will need ahead of time so that it can decide on the product that will address such needs.

Being ahead of the market in identifying needs helps an organization to know how it is doing and what changes will also be required of it ahead of time so that it can remain relevant. It is important to do this because the only real measure of business leadership is performance. This is what is referred to as business reformation or transformation. According to David Cruise, business transformation is the process of changing the systems, processes, people and technology across a whole business or business unit, to achieve measurable improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction. Therefore, the reason for business reform is improvement of the business.

 

Amazon.com

In 1994, Jeffery Bezos was employed as a Vice President at D.E. Shaw & Company, a Wall Street firm, when he stumbled on a piece of information that the use of internet was growing at 2,300 per cent. The information hit him like thunderbolt because he realized that with the right business ideas, he could leverage the growth of internet to change the course of history and transform his own life in the process. As he noted later, “Things just don’t grow that fast. It’s highly unusual, and that started me thinking about the kind of business that might make sense in the context of that growth.”

He generated a list of 20 products he thought could be sold on the internet but later picked on books “because of their low cost and universal demand.”

Thus began Amazon.com, the first and currently biggest online bookstore in the world. The business which took off in the garage of the then 30-year old Bezos hit $20,000 per week within 30 days of operation. Two months after commencement of business, Amazon.com got orders from every part of the United States as well as 45 other countries. The growth has been phenomenal ever since.

Despite the instant success recorded by Amazon.com, Bezos never got tired of refining and retuning the business. He expanded its scope to the extent that today, Amazon.com’s operation is not limited to the sale of books as the company sells virtually everything. Besides that, the 23-year old business, which is worth over $1 trillion, has leveraged the success of its online bookstore to acquire many other companies.

 

Amazon.com’s secret

Amazon.com’s success as a business entity is rooted in its incessant transformation. Bezos realized that once success was recorded in a line of business others would be attracted into it and this would affect market share, so he embarked on a continuous transformation of the business to retain its edge and make it competitive and profitable. Although at the moment there are so many outfits involved in online sale of books, Amazon.com still remains the world’s largest bookstore.

 

Omatek’s rise to greatness

Omatek Group, established by the late Mrs Florence Seriki, started as a training outfit. The company which came into existence during Seriki’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) days was set up to offer computer training services to corporate executives. This was before computer training programme became the in-thing in the country. But she knew that she could not retain her edge if she stayed rooted in training alone. So, she transformed the business to accommodate other interests.

According to Mrs Seriki, “As I was training executives, I realised that many companies did not have enough computers, I saw this as an opportunity to start selling computers. So, I started initially by buying foreign brands and selling to my customers. As a result of the excellent sales performance achieved by Omatek Ventures, we were appointed as a premium partner of Microsoft. By this time, we had annual sales revenue of over $1million.”

From merchandising, Omatek veered into manufacturing computer sets. The company also moved into the production of television sets and other household items. The company is currently seizing the opportunity provided by the energy challenges in the country to produce solar hybrid alternative power solutions with the deployment of LED bulbs for domestic and industrial use.

The Omatek Group CEO explained that the company’s venture into this line of business started following an insight she got after a meeting with a former Minister of Power.

She said, “I was at a meeting with the Minister of Power where he stated the efforts of the government to increase power generation. Then, it occurred to me that while the efforts to increase power generation should continue, it is also important that we bring down the rate of power consumption. I realized that most of the bulbs in use in the country are power guzzlers. It was at that point we decided to go into this line of business. If we reduce power consumption by using energy saving bulbs, we shall free up power for industrial use.”

She pointed out that the use of solar/LED solution could result in significant operational and maintenance cost savings for schools, public offices, hospitals, hotels, street lighting implementation, rural electrification and rural water system.

 

When to reform your business

The undoing of many businesses is the belief of the leadership in the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For as long as the business is doing well in the estimation of such leaders, there is no need to improve on it. After all, they reason, what is the point in changing a winning formula? So, they keep doing the same thing year after year and neither bother to retune the business nor try something new. It is only when the company runs into crisis that they think of change.

Any company that leaves reforms until it is heading south may never be able to get out of it. As a going concern, a business must always be subjected to reform and retuning to stay fit and proper. The reform could be yearly or every other year but it must be a consistent and continuous exercise to benefit the organization.

 

How to reform your business

A company’s raison d’être is to satisfy the customer. This, therefore, means that a company that wants to stay relevant must be customer-centric; it must be in tune with what the market wants. Many companies underplay this and, as a result, underrate the market. Customers’ crave for out of this world products is incomprehensible but it is an ever present yearning. Thus, it is the responsibility of a company that wants to stay relevant to find out what the next craze will be and make it available to its customers.

This is where research comes in. A company does not just foist on the market what it thinks the market needs, it must find out what it needs and make it a point of duty to provide this.

 

Be abreast of technological development

Technology is the driver of change in the times we are in. Understanding this is important because the customer is always looking for an easier way of doing things which is made possible through the deployment of appropriate technology. So, to be on constant reform, a company must embrace technology that can improve its service delivery.

Not too long ago, for any air traveler to buy a ticket, he had to be physically present at the ticketing office or the airport. But that is no longer the case as a passenger can now buy his ticket and effect payment online. He can even check in online days ahead of the flight. This has been facilitated by technology and it has made life a lot easier for the customer. Any airline that insists on subjecting its customers to checking in physically all the time will lose a huge chunk of patronage.

 

Right people

Reforms in organizations are not restricted to processes but should also be extended to the people. So, it is important for a company that wants to be sustainable to inculcate in its people the right culture, especially as it affects customer service. Every layer of the workforce should be engaged in training and retraining on delivering excellent services to customers. A business that has excellent customer service will easily turn its customers to its freelancing sales people.

 

Pioneer change

Many companies are afraid of championing change in their industry because the market may not respond quite well and all the resources invested in developing the product would have gone to waste. While it is true that it is not every new product that is embraced by the market, the fact is that the market is always hungry for new products. What must be done is to ensure that the product solves a problem. Customers don’t spend their resources on a product because they like the manufacturer; they do so because they are looking for a solution to their need. So, if a new product addresses a need in the lives of the customers, they will embrace it.

The fact is that pioneers always have an edge and they are always over-compensated. That is why Amazon is still the largest online bookstore in the world. It saw the opportunity and seized it. A company that is unwilling to take the plunge will always be a laggard. As observed by Richard Branson, the courageous may not live forever but the cautious don’t even live at all.

 

Last line

Businesses that delay reform risk being displaced.

Leaders and business reform
Tribune Online

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278239
The making of strong organisations https://tribuneonlineng.com/the-making-of-strong-organisations/ Mon, 09 Dec 2019 02:25:37 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=273727 Tribune Online
The making of strong organisations

company

A strong company is a joy of all stakeholders; shareholders, employees, contractors, government and even the community because of the high return on investments for shareholders, good wages for employees, high profile jobs for contractors, good taxes for the government and impactful corporate activities for the community. But great companies don’t just happen, certain factors […]

The making of strong organisations
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
The making of strong organisations

company

A strong company is a joy of all stakeholders; shareholders, employees, contractors, government and even the community because of the high return on investments for shareholders, good wages for employees, high profile jobs for contractors, good taxes for the government and impactful corporate activities for the community. But great companies don’t just happen, certain factors make them happen.

 

Strong leadership

Critical to the greatness of an organization is its leadership. The stride made by an organization is a function of the quality of its leadership. If the leadership is strong, the organization’s fortune goes up but if the leadership is weak, the organisation’s fortune heads south.

But what constitutes strong leadership? Is it the leader’s vision, drive or acumen? As important as these are, they do not form the fulcrum of strong leadership. Strong leadership is not determined by the stretch of a vision, the depth of knowledge or the extent of passion, it is determined by the leader’s self control. Self control is the anchor that stabilizes the ship of an organization, it is the force that keeps the leader from going overboard, it is the track that keeps the train of the organization on course to arrive at its predetermined destination despite twists and turns. Hence, as observed by John Wooden, the legendary American basketball coach who won a record seven NCAA national championships in a row, “If you lose self control everything will fall.”

An organization’s slide begins when the leaders’ interest in themselves is higher than their interest in the wellbeing of the organization they lead and the people over who they superintend. Many leaders derail because they do not understand why they are in office. No leader is ever put in a position to look out for his own interest; every leader’s primary responsibility is to make both the people and the organization he leads better. Nothing less, nothing else.

If a leader is focused on satisfying his own interest, both the people and the organization will suffer because whenever there is a clash between what matters to the leader and what matters to the organization, the leader’s interest will trump the organisation’s wellbeing.

It is for this reason that strong leaders are critical to the long-term success of an organization. If the leader is strong enough to overlook his own interest for the good of all, then the sky is the limit for the organization. If a leader can curtail his own excesses, he will not condone any excess from anyone else; if a leader is able to rein in his own greed, he has already put himself on a platform that will empower him to deal with any unwholesome tendency from any quarter. Every company that went under did so because of the selfishness of the leaders.

 

The rise and fall of Fumman Agric Products

Fumman Agricultural Products Industries, Ibadan, started on a very good note. After the acquisition of the former Lafia Canning Factory in 1994, the company, which commenced operations in 1996 with just a two-line plant, grew it into a multi-line facility, producing a range of fruit juices, nectar, drinks and water. The company produced wholesome fruit juices that were the toast of many, not just in Nigeria but across the West African sub-region. The company brought innovation to play when it pioneered the industrial processing of passion fruit and guava.

To control the quality of its major input, Fumman Agricultural Products established an expansive farm in Orile Osupa, Ajaawa in Oyo State. This ensured all year round supply of fruits for its production. At that point, Fumman was ready to take over the juice production industry. To increase its financial fitness, the company went into private placement in 2010 and sold some of its shares to select investors.

But the tide turned when the company took a loan of N2billion from a bank to buoy its business. This marked the beginning of its slide, according to many of its employees, due to the failure of its leadership to deploy the loan for its intended purpose. This resulted in the company’s inability to meet its financial obligations to the bank after the expiration of the 15-month moratorium. With the insistence of the bank on the company servicing its debts, salaries became irregular, payments to contractors and suppliers were delayed and it became obvious that the once highly rated Fumman Agricultural Products was going down. When it became apparent to the bank that the company lacked the capacity to pay back the debt, the process of a takeover commenced and was concluded on November 23, 2015 when the company was put under lock and key with the appointment of a receiver by the bank.

When leaders are not strong enough to put their greed in check they put a whole lot of people in trouble.

 

Productive personnel

A company cannot be strong without a productive workforce. The strength of an organization is directly proportional to the productivity of its personnel. Since the workforce is responsible for wealth creation through service provision, no organization can be stronger or wealthier than the level of productivity of its workforce.

Employee productivity is the value employees create on an hourly basis. This is determined by a number of factors.

Skills – Skills are the abilities of the workforce which enable them to perform certain functions. The primary reason for the engagement of an employee is the acquired skills.

 

Knowledge – Knowledge is the appropriate application of skills. A number of skillful employees are still regarded as redundant because they fail to apply their skills as required. Appropriate application of skills includes knowing when and how to apply the skills.

A manufacturing company had a problem with one of its machines and invited an expert to have a look at it after its technicians and engineers had failed to fix it. After spending about 15 minutes fiddling with the machine, the expert brought out a small hammer and tapped for about 30 seconds on a part of the machine. He then asked the plant supervisor to start the machine. Immediately, the machine that had been inactive for about 10 days roared into life and started working.

The elated plant supervisor asked the expert to prepare his bill. He did and gave him a bill of $1,000. The supervisor was furious, saying the expert only spent about 20 minutes in the plant and wanted to go away with so much money. He then asked the expert to break down the bill.

The expert did not argue. He wrote: “For tapping, $1, for knowing where to tap, $999.”

While the company engineers had skill, the expert had knowledge, because of his ability to apply the knowledge to solve a problem.

Resourcefulness – Resourcefulness goes beyond doing more with less; it is the ability to optimize available resources to achieve set objectives. Resources are hardly ever enough but those who are resourceful are still able to achieve stated goals in spite of the shortage of resources by looking inwards and outwards to overcome their challenges.  Being resourceful has less to do with insufficient tools or funding but more to do with deploying available resources into finding a way out of a labyrinth. If a company’s workforce is resourceful, the company achieves a lot despite limited resources.

 

Creativity – Creativity is doing new things or doing old things in a new way. Nothing shoots up the profile of a company than the creativity of its workforce and nothing sends a company to the Gulag faster than its workforce’s lack of creativity. If a workforce is creative, it will be able to come up with products and services that satisfy the yearnings of the market and this will improve the profile of the company as well as its bottom line.

 

Great products

A company’s primary connection with the outside world is its products or services. If a company does not have good services or great products, it does not matter what other good things it has, it will not last the distance. Anyone who picks a product expects certain values from it. If on a consistent basis the product keeps falling short of his expectations, then the customer will be left with no other option than to take his custom elsewhere.

But what makes a great product? The essence of a product is to meet needs that people are willing to pay for; that is functionality. A product must be functional, otherwise it will fail. It must also be consistent in satisfying this need, this is reliability and must be easy to use. So, the strength of a product is in keeping the customers satisfied in such a way that they want to keep exchanging their money for it.

However, that is not all there is to being an exceptional product. A product must also be emotionally resonant with the customer because emotions are the primary reason consumers choose a brand over another. If a product emotionally resonates with a customer, the customer gets hooked to it and keeps asking for more because purchase decisions are made by the emotional centers of the brain. If a product does not pull at the customers’ heart strings and endear them to it, irrespective of what qualities it may parade, its survival will be greatly challenged. So, for a company to be strong and great, it must have on its parade products that have emotional resonance with customers.

 

Great strategy

A great strategy makes a company adaptable to new trends and realities. Strategy is how an organization plans to achieve its vision. Strategy speaks of the steps an organization intends to take to arrive at its envisioned destination; its action plan to achieve its vision. Strategy is the bridge that links an organization’s present to its future. Vision will transform into a mirage where the right strategy to drive it is lacking. Strategy involves the deployment of resources at the disposal of an organization for the actualization of its vision.

No company can become anything of significance without an appropriate strategy. Without a good strategy, a company will just keep going round in circles and will fail to make any real progress. So, critical to the growth of a company and its sustainability is great strategy.

A good strategy identifies what to be done, how it should be done and who should do it within what time frame. This usually is not arrived at by a flight in the night but by a series of rigorous reflection.

Great leaders know that no strategy is eternal, so they never stop tweaking their strategies to make them better.

 

Great customer relations

According to Peter Drucker, every business exists to create customers. Since no wise organization will create customers to lose them, strong companies usually have good customer relations. The essence of this is to make customers happy with a view to remaining in their consciousness. Great companies take feedback from customers which they use to improve their offerings and as a result keep their customers happy. For as long as the company or its products remain in the consciousness of the customer, patronage is assured.

But aside using feedback from customers to keep them happy, great companies also use it as a learning opportunity to gauge the gap in the industry and come out with new products. As observed by Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” So, by listening to customers’ complaints, companies position themselves to convert a patent disadvantage to an opportunity to improve their profile.

Great companies do not trifle with customer relations because according to Forbes magazine, companies that have superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors. Companies that invest in customer experience see financial gains and strong customer-focused cultures.

 

Last line

While every company plans to be strong, it is only those that are able to pay the price that achieve the aim.

The making of strong organisations
Tribune Online

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Why many leaders don’t finish well https://tribuneonlineng.com/why-many-leaders-dont-finish-well/ Mon, 02 Dec 2019 02:45:34 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=271347 Tribune Online
Why many leaders don’t finish well

A common saying among soccer pundits is that a coach is only as good as his last game. This is very profound because the implication is that when it matters most, a coach’s past performances may not count, he will be assessed by his most recent outing. As it is in football, so it is […]

Why many leaders don’t finish well
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Why many leaders don’t finish well

A common saying among soccer pundits is that a coach is only as good as his last game. This is very profound because the implication is that when it matters most, a coach’s past performances may not count, he will be assessed by his most recent outing. As it is in football, so it is in life and leadership. In life, many people start well but end poorly. Similarly, many leaders start their leadership journey on a high note but end on a very low note. Unfortunately, their poor ending vitiates whatever good record they might have made along the journey. So, it is important that leaders should continue as they want to end so as not to end up on the wrong side of history.

 

Limit of intentions

No leader ever sets out with the intention of ending poorly. Every leader starts with the aim of effecting a positive change and earning an enviable position in history. That is why when a new leader assumes office, he puts in place certain measures which show that a new person is in charge. But along the line, things happen and the leader abandons his earlier intention for other things. That is why it is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So, starting with a good intention is insufficient to ensure a good end. The intention must be turned into positive actions which must be sustained throughout the leadership journey. Unless that is done, the leader will end up where he never envisaged.

 

How leaders can end well

For a leader to end well he has to do the following.

 

Guard against ‘settlement’ mentality

Most leaders begin a slide when they believe they have achieved enough and there is nothing new for them to accomplish. Once they get to this point, they develop a ‘settlement’ mentality, a mindset that makes them to want to relax and take things in their stride. Once a leader gets to this level, he plateaus; he is unable to reenact his past feats let alone surpass them. This mentality robs him of energy, deprives him of his drive, takes away his passion, blocks him from fresh thinking and denies him of new ideas. At this point, lethargy hits him where it hurts the most before degeneration sets in. He becomes a shadow of himself and people begin to wonder what happened to him.

Many leaders who fall into this trap do so because they believe they have accomplished their original goals. Even after accomplishing set goals, a leader should not retire because the end of a road is the beginning of another. The end of a vision sets the stage for a new one. For as long as a leader has breath in his nostrils and strength in his bones, he is supposed to keep on. If he keeps at what he is doing he continues to add value and for as long as he keeps adding value, he will end on a strong note.

The secret to finishing strong is to not operate below one’s capacity. A leader who keeps operating at his maximum capacity will end well, but one who operates below capacity will end on a poor note.

 

Avoid loss of focus

Allied to ‘settlement’ mentality is loss of focus. A leader with ‘settlement’ mentality loses the drive to do more, while a leader with loss of focus has his drive but he is channeling his energy in the wrong direction. He has abandoned the substance and is on the trail of shadows. Every successful leader comes into office with specific goals to be accomplished. He sleeps and wakes up thinking about these. The desire to accomplish those things keeps him going; he disregards obstacles, he plays down on problems just to have his mission accomplished. But when a leader loses focus, he derails. He is no longer motivated by the important but rather he is excited by the mundane and the trivial. When a leader loses focus, he thinks more about himself than he does about the organization. When a leader loses focus, he is more interested in his own well being and reputation than he does about those of the organization or the people that work with him. When that happens, he can no longer give his best to the organization. His contribution declines, his influence wanes and he ends on the wrong side of history.

A leader must endeavour to put in focus what is important. Every leader is appointed or elected to discharge specific functions; losing sight of those will make him an accident of history.

 

Festus Odimegwu’s faux pas

Chief Festus Odimegwu will qualify as one of the most brilliant minds that ever passed through the Nigerian Breweries Plc. He shone like a thousand stars and his rise within the system was rapid. With a first class degree in Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he was employed as a Shift Assistant in 1980, became Shift Brewer in charge of Bottling in 1982, was promoted Brewer in 1984, Technological Controller in 1985 and Production Manager in 1987. In 1988, he was at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh for a master’s degree programme and returned to the company as Brewer/Senior Technical Manager in 1989. He was promoted Sales Director in 1992 and became Food Coordination, AMEG Unilever, London, in 1993. He was appointed Marketing Director, Lever Brothers Ghana in 1995 and Managing Director/CEO, Nigerian Breweries Plc in 1997. He held that position till 2006.

As an outstanding business leader, Odimegwu was the driving force behind the building of one of the world’s most advanced breweries in Ama, Enugu State. So well did Nigerian Breweries perform under his leadership that the company won the Heineken Gold Africa Beer Award five times.

But Odimegwu lost his focus, dabbled in politics and became a campaigner for former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term agenda.

Odimegwu, in his bid to sell the third term agenda to the business community, described the former president as “a businessman’s dream.” He also said “His politics is good for my country, good for my shareholders and good for my customers. He needs to be given a chance to complete the good work he is doing.”

However, Odimegwu’s involvement in politics neither went down well with the shareholders nor the board of the company. In 2006, he was forced to embark on a Senior Executive Development Programme in the United States of America after which he was to be assigned a new role within the Heineken company. Odimegwu knew it was a euphemism for being sacked and he opted to resign his appointment, thus becoming a victim of his loss of focus.

 

Understanding the times

Every leader must understand the times in which he operates. Many leaders who end up poorly do so because of their failure to correctly interpret the times. Times change; what worked at a time will not work at all times. People also change, what people craved once will not always be their pursuit. Sustaining leadership tempo requires understanding this. Leaders who do not understand this are left behind by the changing times and are confined to the realm of irrelevance.

 

Winston Churchill

Between 1940 and 1945 Winston Churchill was probably the most popular British prime minister of all time. In May 1945 his approval rating in the opinion polls, which had never fallen below 78 per cent, stood at 83 per cent. According to the BBC, with few exceptions, politicians and commentators confidently predicted that he would lead the Conservatives to victory at the forthcoming general elections.

However, Churchill and his party were roundly defeated in the 1945 elections. The reason for this is that the qualities that had made him a great leader in war times were not what he needed at peacetime but he did not realize this.

As prime minister in 1940, he invited the leaders of the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties – Attlee, Sinclair and Chamberlain – to serve in a Coalition Government, that was the administration which mobilised the British for total war.

The conduct of the war, however, became his overriding passion, and military victory was by far the most important of his goals. Thus everything else, including party politics and people’s well being, was shoved to the background. As a result, when the war came to an end and party politics resumed, Churchill continued to carry on as a war time leader. Eventually, he found himself without a clear sense of purpose or direction.

As great a leader as Churchill was, he was unable to appropriately interpret the times and the requirements of the times. Consequently, he was swept out of office by this seemingly insignificant weakness. Although still regarded as one of the best leaders the United Kingdom has ever witnessed, Churchill left office on a low point.

 

Willingness to admit mistakes

Sometimes because of the accolades generously showered on them by those who mill around them, leaders are unwilling to admit it when they go wrong. The praises make them carry on with an air of infallibility. When a leader sees himself as infallible, he makes it difficult for those who wish to genuinely help him to do so. More often than not, these people join the coterie of praise singers rather being seen as naysayers or at best avoid him. But when a leader does not have anyone who can speak truth to him, he is set on a path whose end is destruction. If there is no one who can tell a leader that he is wrong when he goes off target, then he is most likely to end up on the wrong side of history.

To end well, not only must a leader admit it when he is wrong, he must also encourage people to speak out when they see him tread a wrong path.

 

Not surrendering to adversity

There is nothing so good that it cannot go wrong. The best plans fail, the best projects go wrong, the best hands disappoint. Disasters happen when least expected. These are facts of life. A leader must come to the realization that things will not always work out according to plan. When a plan or a project fails, a leader must not interpret this as his personal failure but must take it as an opportunity to learn the necessary lessons and start again in a better way.

 

Thomas Edison

On December 9, 1914, a fire destroyed over half the buildings in Thomas Edison’s West Orange Laboratory after an explosion in the film inspection building. The damage done to the laboratory was valued at over $7million. Edison was not at the laboratory when it happened but he rushed down as soon as he was told of the incident.

Seeing what was happening, rather than surrendering to adversity or bursting into tears, he said “Although I am over 67 years old, I‘ll start all over again tomorrow.”

And he did. The following day, he started rebuilding the laboratory without firing any of the 250 persons on the staff. While the laboratory was being rebuilt, Edison finalized the design of a portable searchlight whose three million candlepower beam would be visible for miles. He got the inspiration while his laboratory was engulfed in flames. According to him, he had noticed how the firefighters were hampered by the loss of power and light while trying to put out the fire. So, he pondered over it and came up with the battery-driven light source idea and design.

Edison never allowed adversity to stop him from achieving his goals. Therefore, he ended well. Leaders who do not submit to adversity always end well.

 

Last line

Ending well is not a given, it is a work that must be done every day.

Why many leaders don’t finish well
Tribune Online

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Avoiding the pitfalls of office politics https://tribuneonlineng.com/avoiding-the-pitfalls-of-office-politics/ Mon, 25 Nov 2019 00:23:35 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=268692 Tribune Online
Avoiding the pitfalls of office politics

Man is a political animal, so said Aristotle. The import of this is that wherever there is an assemblage of people, politics comes alive because jockeying becomes unavoidable. Therefore, politics is at play in the workplace because career progression is at stake. Career progression is the harbinger of money, power and influence. When any of […]

Avoiding the pitfalls of office politics
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Avoiding the pitfalls of office politics

Man is a political animal, so said Aristotle. The import of this is that wherever there is an assemblage of people, politics comes alive because jockeying becomes unavoidable. Therefore, politics is at play in the workplace because career progression is at stake. Career progression is the harbinger of money, power and influence. When any of these is challenged or threatened, there is no length to which people will not go to protect their interests. So, office politics is more real than many will like to admit.

 

What is politics?

Stripped of all adornments, politics is nothing but a struggle for resource control. Although politics could be a vehicle for rendering impactful service, its prize is the control over human and material resources which it bestows on the winner of the struggle. Conflict always goes hand in hand with resources for two reasons. One, it is unusual that there will be a convergence of opinions on the deployment of resources. The greed in some will make them reach out for more than their due. This will manifest in scheming, collaboration and horse trading to outwit others and get the better of them. The other reason is that resources are unlikely to be sufficient at any point in time. Therefore, people will very likely jostle to have a chance of getting the best out of the little that is available. This is why politics always seems to draw blood. In politics, one person’s gain is the other’s loss. It is the scheming that characterizes politics that confers on it the toga of a dirty venture. Politics cannot be devoid of scheming, checkmating, moves and counter-moves. Hence, politicking always leaves a string of casualties.

But politics is unavoidable in any human society. Politics is about leadership. It is about rendering transformational service to the people. It is about providing direction for a group or society. Without politics, there would be anarchy because there would not be a recognized body to which everyone can look for guidance or direction. So, the importance of politics cannot be overemphasized.

 

Politics and the office setting

The purpose of a workplace is value creation through service provision, not politicking. This should be ingrained in the mind of every serious career person. Politicking should be left to those in the C-Suite, the topmost officers of an organization. They do not have any choice, politicking comes with their terrain. Because they are in charge of resource allocation, they cannot avoid politicking. But others should deemphasize politics and concentrate on their core mandate of rendering service to their organizations. Many careers have been short-circuited because of political considerations. To every politician, either in the workplace or the polity, loyalty is critical. If a politician cannot trust an individual, the competencies the fellow brings to the table become secondary, he is dispensed with forthwith.

Human beings always have their preferences, biases, views and interests. So, in the workplace, officers will have their preferences among those in the struggle for the control of the organization’s resources. But it is best not to make this obvious in order not to vitiate one’s interest. Being tagged somebody’s person has its benefits but it is also fraught with dangers. Those with such tags usually lose out when their godfathers fall out of power.

Career-minded people need not be apolitical, rather they should be politically-conscious. Being oblivious of the politics of one’s environment can reduce one to a pawn in the hands of political lobbyists while being politically savvy positions one to make informed choices that can help career progression. So, it is not about shunning office politics but being aware of it without allowing it to jeopardize one’s interests.

 

Professor Ayobami Salami

Professor Ayobami Salami, formerly of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, is reputed as one of the nation’s leading lights in the field of Ecology and Environmental Studies. He rose through the academic ranks, heading vital centres and institutes of the university and was eventually appointed the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics).

His joy must have been boundless when his name was announced by the governing council of the university as the vice chancellor to succeed the former vice chancellor, Professor Bamitale Omole, after the expiration of his tenure in June 2016. But his appointment generated furore on the campus as many interest groups rejected the appointment outright. What was the premise of their opposition to his appointment? Some of the groups claimed he was too close to Professor Omole.

He was perceived as being tied to the apron string of the former vice chancellor and would not be able to do anything without getting a clearance from Professor Omole. Although other issues were raised such as the governing council tweaking the process to make it easy for him to emerge as the best candidate, the real angst of those who protested was his affinity with Professor Omole.

Eventually, the protest in Ife got to Abuja and the Federal Government dissolved the governing council and asked the University’s Senate to use its internal mechanism to appoint an acting vice chancellor. Professor Anthony Elujoba of the Faculty of Pharmacy, who was seen as not belonging to any of the groups scheming for the vice chancellorship, was appointed the Acting Vice Chancellor. The government directed that the process of appointing a new vice chancellor should start all over again but it barred those who participated in the botch exercise from being considered for the position.

Professor Salami lost the Obafemi Awolowo University’s prime position, which was within reach not for lack of competence but because of his alliance. He would have had an easy ride to the headship of his alma mater if he had been conscious of the inherent dangers of office politics and had avoided making his alliance a public affair. The experience would have been an indelible dent on his career if not for his later appointment as the pioneer vice chancellor of The Technical University, Ibadan.

 

Avoiding the pitfalls of office politics

It is possible to stand firm and tall on the slippery ground of office politics by doing the following.

 

Avoid the lure of office politics

For many, the lure of office politics is the opportunity of riding on the crest of their godfathers’ success to climb high. While that is good for as long as it lasts, it is akin to riding on the back of a tiger. As John F. Kennedy, former President of the United States of America, said in his inaugural speech in 1961, “those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” Those who rely on politicking to achieve their career objectives usually get consumed by the process that threw them up.

 

Be on top of your game

One fact that every career-minded person must not lose sight of is that the raison d’être for their employment is service provision. Therefore, doing that should be of far more importance than involvement in politics. To avoid becoming a victim of office politics, every career-minded person should consistently up his game and enhance his competence. He should be on top of his game. He should offer top quality service that cannot be wished away. If that is done, it does not matter which of the sides involved in the struggle for the control of the resources wins, he is sure to have a place in the organization.

But the workplace rule is fast changing and competence may not be enough as the new rule of engagement expects every employee to generate revenue. Combining competence with ability to generate revenue makes an employee a cash cow. No farmer sacrifices his cash cows.

 

Build strong relationships across boundaries

One factor of success in any endeavour is relationship. To thrive in the workplace in spite of politics, it is necessary to build strong relationships across boundaries. Having relationships across groupings in the workplace is a bulwark against ‘hostile takeover’ whenever there is a power shift as the new group will not consider such individual as an enemy. Care should, however, be taken not to be cast in the mould of a mole. This happens if there is any reason to doubt the sincerity of such relationships. In politics, as in the military, loyalty is not gradable. A person is either loyal or not loyal; 99 per cent loyalty is seen as 100 per cent disloyalty.

 

Don’t get emotional, stay on principles

Every relationship places a responsibility on one. There are times when the relationship that exists in the workplace makes certain demands that are antithetical to the ground rule. If such happens, it is dangerous to allow emotions have its way. Emotions usually becloud reasoning. Those who are given to emotions take momentary actions that they regret later. Do not sacrifice your career on the altar of emotional considerations. Don’t allow your emotion to run riot, always be guided by principles. Avoid taking actions that you will be unable to defend when nerves are calm and pressure is over. When emotion wants to put you in chains, free yourself with principles.

 

Be conscious, but don’t get involved

Some people try their best to steer clear of office politics and everything it represents. While it is safe to avoid involvement in it, knowing and identifying the political groupings in the system as well as what they stand for is good. The essence of this is to guide the conduct of the career-minded person. If one knows neither the political groupings nor what they represent, the likelihood of conflict of interests is high and that could be costly.

 

Last line

Office politics is a reality but while those who get engrossed in it get swept away, those who ignore it get ignored.

Avoiding the pitfalls of office politics
Tribune Online

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Leaders and choices https://tribuneonlineng.com/leaders-and-choices/ Mon, 18 Nov 2019 00:50:04 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=266203 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 […]

Leaders and choices
Tribune Online

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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

Attitude

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 

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

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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

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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

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

Purpose

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.

 

Mission

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.

 

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.

 

System

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

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

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