It has been an interesting month of July, what with the World Cup and its’ many lessons. Did I share a recent business challenge – where my ignited tycoon values were tested? What are your core values? What would it take to violate them? How valuable is flexibility in business? And in what areas should you be flexible? These are some of the questions I’m left asking as we approach a month where I hope you all tried to “Fail Forward”. I certainly have had a few mistakes and misses this month but I am grateful because mistakes well reviewed lead you to solutions and opportunities you might never have discovered. Exhilarating stuff. Nothing like failing at something to make you sit up, ask tough questions and take good notes. (The full story is reserved for my Tycoon Master Series).
Here are a few interesting insights on how to avoid becoming irrelevant and lessons from a truly memorable leadership conversation with two Ignited Leaders I met recently.
OUTDATED SYSTEMS…AND WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN THE ART OF ASKING “WHY” IN LIFE AND BUSINESS.
Are your systems at work, at home or in your life still valid or are they now outdated and irrelevant? Do you know why you do what you do? My experience at VGC (Victoria Garden City, Lagos) gate on Sunday and the culture of tearing up shopping receipts at Nigerian supermarket exits got me thinking about these very questions? Why would you ask guests of residents in a high profile estate to drive up to a welcome centre, only to be given a numbered slip – no questions asked, no security checks, no clearance procedure -just to receive a slip of paper and drive right back to the queue. I asked this question of a bewildered young female attendant who appeared as confused as I was. She finally managed to mutter that she didn’t understand the reason, and I should direct my question to the home owner I was going to visit. This slip, could easily have been given to guests at the gate, which was decidedly open with two additional security men flagging you through without checks (one at least wished me well- saying “bless you“. I did feel good about that -a blessing is always welcome in my world). What about the multiple airport desks that every traveller has to go through at our international airports, when travelling overseas, or arriving? What is this costing us in time, resources and aggravation versus what it is meant to achieve?
I wondered whether in our own businesses and lives, there aren’t areas like these that don’t serve any useful purpose other than the fact that it’s the way we’ve always done it or decided to do it. Is it perhaps time to take another look at our in house systems at work, in our homes, and in our lives to find what is not serving any useful objective or could be made more efficient? We should review the way we accomplish our results and ask -Is it possible to achieve these objectives more efficiently? Can we avoid becoming irrelevant and outdated as we end July and approach a new month?
“An unexamined life is not worth living. An un-examined system in life or business soon becomes irrelevant” – UO
A DESPERATE NEED FOR VISIBLE LEADERS.
I love chatting with business leaders, especially those who are undeniably outstanding. This weekend I met two truly outstanding lawyers who are clearly leaders in major sectors of the legal industry, one a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the other a General Counsel in a major oil multinational, and believe it or not, they are married (to each other that is!). Anyway as a writer, I’m constantly looking for memorable quotes and to glean valuable lessons during any conversation.
From fine wines, to fine art, to refined living and personal, corporate and national values, we covered all the bases. It was truly inspiring to connect with such great minds. I was left thinking, Nigeria has incredible resources and role models. Why aren’t these the more visible leaders we see and hear of routinely?
I couldn’t help challenging them both to become more visible, although they already do some mentoring or speaking to younger professionals whenever the need arises, they did agree more could be done. I asked for more commitment to speaking up, and sharing their knowledge more often especially as we all recognise that the Nigerian youth need to see more value driven leaders to help restore a sense of confidence in the country. Among the “position or title based leaders“, there are simply not enough role models, as only very few are truly inspiring.
Here are some of my own back of the envelope views on what leadership should look like:
– Leadership is about inspiring people to believe that great things are possible. It is about creating platforms and systems that encourage people to believe in themselves and their ability to attain heights previously unimagined.
– Leadership is about positive change, starting with the leader. It’s not about telling others to make changes you are not committed to making yourself.
– Leadership is action. It’s best seen in achieving results that make a difference to other people’s lives.
– Leadership is not solely focused on financial outcomes, it balances the method with the why –an area where some of our current visible leaders whether in business, government or other institutions clearly fail.
– Leadership is about using your voice, your resources, your platform and strength to draw light to the right pathway. To encourage others. To dispel fear. To instil confidence in times of confusion and distress.
– Leadership is not about applause. You may do great stuff and still not be applauded. (At least not in your life time.) Be willing to live with that.
So what am I trying to say? You are a leader if you have the privilege of being responsible for results in any arena. You are a leader if you have a family, or by virtue of a position where you are responsible for other lives, whether it is a big or small corporation, your own business or institution. You are a leader if you have access to knowledge, experience or resources that others could benefit from. You are a leader if you have strong values and are willing to contribute to change, and to influencing others to make the right decisions.
Yemi Candide Johnson truly inspired me when he said,
‘you know what, we can’t even sleep if we have the majority of our neighbours hungry and upset’.
That’s surely food for thought! Think about it. Selah!
BEING SUCCESSFUL MAKES YOU RESPONSIBLE.
And here’s my final message to you: You are a leader if you are reading this. You are privileged and that “privilege is a call to responsibility.”
With the recent news of Ebola virus, air crashes, frequent bombings and other disheartening incidents all around us, surely this is not a time to just go to work and do business as usual. Life surely has got to have more meaning than mere profit. Can we do business, work at our jobs and make profit, but remembering also that there’s a call, indeed a desperate need for visible leadership in our nation and the world over. May the right leaders begin to emerge in all areas. May you arise in your area of influence.
To your success and greatness.
P.S. Golden Nuggets.
Here a few quotes I got from my conversation with the power duo above with my interpretation following.
Pomposity seems to be a national ideology. Everyone wants to be a big man or woman. –Yemi Candide Johnson
U.O. – I agree. Be Humble even in titled office. Is there really any need for all those security details, multiple mobile phones, and handbag carriers? Why not carry your own luggage? You are a servant first before you lead.
You can be successful in many different ways. –Towun Candide-Johnson
U.O. – Totally on point. Define your own framework for success otherwise you will fall for anything even if it leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled.
The application of intellect to any issue or situation is what separates us from animals. –Yemi Candide Johnson
U.O. – Totally true. Strategic Thinking is the business of the 21st century. Sadly this is becoming a scarce skill.
(An old Judge Charles) once said …you never finish furnishing a great house. –Yemi Candide Johnson
U.O. – I totally agree. Just make sure you get the great house from Fine and Country.