Opinion (12/1/2017): Effective leadership for business during this year of economic transition, by Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa
Beyond my new year wish expressed on this page last week that Nigeria will get out of recession in 2017, I am of the firm view that Nigeria will indeed come out of recession this year. The stabilizing oil prices in the international market aided by the willingness of Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran to consider supply management options give hope of higher foreign exchange earnings which may ease the persisting dollar crunch. The bullish 7.3 trillion 2017 budget will build on the ongoing implementation of the 2016 budget and push enhanced economic activities, particularly in the infrastructure area and in social support. If the Government pushes the recommended fiscal measures that will incentivize local production and Agric Business; and if the Legislature makes headway with the PIB options that will reenergize investment in Petroleum Industry, our economy should transit from recession and resume growth.
2016 was definitely a tough year for many businesses. It is therefore critical that Business leaders acquire effective traits that will help them optimize the opportunities inherent in the transition, so as to return to growth or perform better in 2017. Firstly, we need visionary leadership. Leadership that sees Tomorrow. This time calls for environmental scanning and ability to predict and project the future. We must see where the economy is headed, understand where our industry is going and determine our positioning. A lot of research and scenario building will help. Leaders who are reactive and play by hunch, will definitely lag behind and probably miss the early recovery Train.
Secondly Team building skills will come handy. Most companies suffered the effects of entropy and centrifugal forces in 2016. Employer-Employee relationships were strained.Trust and commitment will have to be rebuilt in companies, so that all can begin to pull in the same direction. Thirdly, in 2017, we need business leaders that are motivators of action and who are passionate. These are leaders that drive performance by setting goals, motivating their teams to action, and then tracking performance, with timely dispensing of rewards and reprimand.
Fourthly, 2017 will require Leaders that are good models, those who will lead by example. We seek leaders who will never demand from their followers, subordinates or team members what they are incapable or unwilling to offer. Fifthly, these leaders that will lead the imminent business recovery, must also be Coaches themselves. In which case, they must be on the cutting edge of the information curve of their industry.They must not only know how to communicate their vision, but must be adequately prepared to walk the talk and get the team walking the talk as well. They need to make investment in upgrading their knowledge, skill and competence and then make similar investments on their team members. In short, they must learn to recreate talents and leaders within their organizations.
Effective leadership has always demanded Transparent Integrity. Business leaders that will attract loyal follower-ship must be people who say what they mean and mean what they say. They must demonstrate a bundle of strong character traits such as honesty, humility, openness, Fairness, firmness, thoroughness, strong-mindedness and Trustworthiness.
To chart new courses, discover new trails as the economic snow melts and the high tide recedes, business leaders must display uncanny levels of courage and perseverance. They need to be ready and willing to take calculated risks. The recovery will be slow but it is likely to be sustained and so we must have the long haul mentality. Because the Public sector will require a lot of encouragement to reform and adopt pro-business policies, business leaders in 2017 must find their voices and must remain visible. The truth is that a well- informed, well organized and vocal business sector will be critical in ensuring that the economic space is expanded so that more businesses can thrive. So the advocacy skill will be a critical leadership trait for 2017. And lastly, our Business leaders must Fear God in truth and do the right things always. Righteousness exalts a Nation and Sin is a reproach to any People. The fight against corruption must be fought at the business and corporate levels. If our business leaders refuse to bribe public officials or refuse to front for them, then the overall level of corruption in Nigeria will decline significantly. And God will be Happy with us, making the envisaged economic recovery sustainable.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR
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