The Sun News

Leaders on leadership: How to acquire the status of a Guru

Continuing from last week, Globacom Chairman and founder Dr. Mike Adenuga who was 65 last Sunday shares his thoughts on leadership, business philosophy, competitive strategy and how to win on the path to becoming a Guru:

Like everyone else, I have two hands and two eyes. But what we have been lucky about is that we put a lot of premium on making sure that when we go out there to resource a company, we look for the very, very best. And I think we have been very lucky in that area. We have highly competent people, devoted people and honest people you can trust to run those businesses. Certainly, I have taken a lot of time to ensure in any business we play any major role, I ensure that I know the business very well. It is easier for me to be able to add value to the issues. That is why we have been able to get this far. To further understand what drives my competitive zeal, you will have to go back to April 29, 1993 on the occasion of my 41st birthday when I put on a crystal tablet my thoughts, philosophy, credo, mantra, leadership statement and my general approach to business. It’s titled ON ACHIEVING:

ACHIEVING is a thing of resolve and persistence. It is the state of attaining success as a goal through sustained consistency. The achiever is a leader, a winner, all the time, not just once. Achieving is an attitude.

LEADING the pack is the only worthwhile resolve of the achiever. There is no room for second place. It is often said that it is not winning that counts, but the participation. This adage does not reflect an achieving attitude. It is not the mere participant, but the achiever, the winner, the leader who makes the difference that advances the course of humankind in the judgement of history.

HIGH profile corporate game-playing is an arena where the pervading zeal is on achieving in every single endeavor; to be the first and always the first; to be the one who holds the aces that determine the pace of play. You don’t enter the arena to rely on luck. You match your wits against others, with your entire constitution springing into action. Every fibre, from the innermost recesses of your being, to the fore, becomes combative in a synchronized zeal to achieve. With this strategy, you’re never going to come off the arena as a loser.

ESSENTIALLY, running a business is similar to leading a military operation or orchestrating a political campaign, or performing as a great athlete. The fundamental principles are the same. The overriding objective is outmanoeuvre the opposing forces; to outsmart the other party; to outperform the competition; to outwit the other guy—to achieve. This may sound harsh. But that’s the way it is. SUCCESS is the goal of every business, and the most successful businesses engage the most competitive men. They are there to compete—to savour the grind and brutal discipline of epic combat—and to achieve.

LET MY WORDS not be misunderstood. I do not believe that men must be dehumanized or brutalized to acquire an achieving attitude. I am a staunch believer in Divine Presence of God, and recognize the necessity of human decency and goodwill. But at the same time, I strongly believe that a corporate player’s greatest fulfillment is that critical moment when he engages in that epic corporate combat with all he’s got—and emerges as the man of the moment: the achiever.

IN THE END, the achiever has the moral obligation to reflect up the general condition of humanity in the larger field of play. Such a reflection should materialize in a philanthropic attitude—that which is responsible, organized and reasoned—as well as promotion of knowledge.

THIS is the honourable path to acquire the status of a Guru.
—Mike Adenuga, April 29, 1993

GEN. IBRAHIM BABANGIDA (Forward): “This book is long overdue…The youths of today have a lot to learn from the story of Mike Adenuga’s life…His story is the triumph of the Nigerian can-do spirit…The world needs more Mike Adenuga, a man with a good heart.”
BIODUN SHOBANJO, Chairman, Troyka Holdings: “Being No. 1 is not a birthright. You’ve got to fight for it. That is why Mike Adenuga doesn’t sleep. It’s not for money.”

JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA, ex-President of Ghana, conferring on Adenuga Ghana’s highest national award: “Throughout Africa, Mike Adenuga is acclaimed as one of the most astute and successful entrepreneurs and investors, controlling one of the continent’s largest business empires.”

ALFRED NNAEMEKA ACHEBE, the Obi of Onitsha, Chairman, Unilever Nigeria: “Mike Adenuga and Aliko Dangote are both game-changers who are doing audacious things and contributing a lot to the Nigerian economy.”

OTUNBA MICHAEL OLASUBOMI BALOGUN, Chairman and founder, First City Monument Bank: “Dr. Mike Adenuga is one of my sons.

He has achieved great and outstanding successes in business and in life. We have mutual admiration for each other. In my autobiography, The Cross, The Triumph and The Crown, I wrote about him thus: ‘One of my young admirers, Dr. Mike Adenuga (Jr.) who has set up two flourishing banks, could not resist the temptation of writing me a congratulatory letter, which he crafted in a unique gold calligraphy.’

YEMI ADEOLA, former MD/CEO Sterling Bank PLC: “I see Dr. Mike Adenuga as a great man who is grossly misunderstood because people do not know him. People don’t get to see him except for a few of us who have business relationship with him. Each time we are together it’s a lot of fun. I laugh all through. But how many people have that kind of access to him? So they base their views on rumour-mongering, backbiting and mudslinging. But those who have seen some of the good things that he has done actually appreciate him. I have seen some of your writings on him, which are very positive.”

DR. CHRISTOPHER KOLADE, former Chairman/CEO, Cadbury Nigeria PLC: “I salute the courage, doggedness and the heroism of Mike Adenuga and Aliko Dangote. They are both entrepreneurs of distinction. And they have succeeded through taking risks, through investing not just their money but themselves. Of course, they are heroes. How many of us can do what they are doing?”OLUSEGUN OSUNKEYE, former chairman, Lafarge Cement: “I respect Mike Adenuga for the things he has been able to achieve, particular his courage and audacity in competing very well with multinationals like MTN and Airtel. He is No.2. It takes a lot of gut, particularly when he lost the licence. But he proved that the downfall of a man is not the end. He fought back like a true champion.”

OTUNBA ADEMOLA ADENUGA: “A book like this would be a good read for the younger generation looking for role models and inspirational figures. The story of Mike Adenuga my kid brother is a proof that there is a divine hand guiding us all and propelling us to greater heights…He has broken the myth that only multinationals can run certain types of businesses in Nigeria.”

MRS. BELLA ADENUGA-DISU: “From dad, I have learnt that success in life has little or nothing to do with being a genius, that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.”

THE LATE MRS. E.O. OSUNSADE: “The success of Mike Adenuga my kid brother was orchestrated by God. Without God’s hand of blessing, there would be no Mike Adenuga to celebrate in this book.


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