Business leadership: 6 steps to follow if you want to rise to the top


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Ingenuity. Character. Vision. Co-operation. Those words can be worth a billionaire dollar each, especially when you discover they make up the vital nutrients in the bloodstream of the world’s billionaires.

Everyone was once young and blank. We all learn what we know not just through the four walls of schools but through personal experiences and relationship. So, it goes to show that ingenuity, character, vision and the willingness to co-operate with others to achieve great things are essential to success – but here we refer to business success and leadership because business keeps the world going.

The bedrock of individual economic prosperity is entrepreneurial skills and leadership. In the 21st century, unlike when Richard Branson suddenly had a hunch to set up a student magazine or sell records, business leadership can be consciously honed. The stories of successful business leaders and entrepreneurs like Branson, Buffet, Musk, Dangote and Mukesh Ambani suggest this is true.

That truth becomes more fundamental when you consider how increase in population and stiff competition have transformed market forces and leave many of this present generation jostling for a crumb of the global pie. The worse hit, young people, ask the universe if there are still spaces for them to do great things. Hard questions, isn’t it?

Certain threads are common to great business leaders and can be adopted by young people in every young person in the 21st century. Here are 6 recipes to becoming a real entrepreneur and business leader in this century:

  1. Determine to do great things. If you aspire to be a CEO, you have chosen a path of priority and focus that will require you shut out other options that can set you in a different path. Believe it. You will have to shut many doors – and some seemingly promising doors at that. You will get all kinds of advises from parents who will care too much and friends who think you are arrogant and snobbish. This is your first lesson. Your ability to survive this barrage of opinions will automatically promote you and build your confidence so that you can survive on the long run.
  2. Invest to understand. This second stage calls for apprenticeship. Understand that whatever you aim to achieve, someone, somewhere, and at sometime, has done something similar or almost similar. Get your hands dirty like a little boy in a mechanic yard by working for a business or someone that can teach you how to succeed. At this level, you may have to sacrifice large pay and leisure but the trade off will be well worth it at the end. You have to realise that the first phase of your life is about the business of learning about yourself – about what you are good at and what you are not. It is also about learning why and how the world is the way it is. You will also learn about people (the good, the bad and the ugly) and how to live and succeed among the wolves and foxes. This will help you build a platform of personal experience and hard business skills.
  3.  Take Risk. Throw yourself at the deep end as often. If you swim, you can be sure you can survive the oceans that life is often is. Many sink though. However, this is what it means – dare to participate in the big projects where you work. Take up what others think is too much for them. In essence you will acquire courage, a hallmark of leadership, and learn the various aspects of the business sooner. If you do this successfully over time, you will attract attention from the top, and promotion to greater level will come your way. But make sure you ask yourself if you still want to go on because often this is the best time to move on either to acquire a further experience somewhere else like a different industry or to begin your own entrepreneurship journey.
  4. Learn to cooperate and cocreate. Great things are hardly done alone. The period of the great inventors and heroes are out in the dump. Pardon that. Because of the almost insatiable human needs, fragmented market and the short span of innovation have made it necessary to seek recourse constantly through intelligent pairing and smart partnership. It begins with someone to always have intellectual chat with, a team you never seem to be ‘a-know-all’ within. And within your team, when it comes to discussing great ideas or project act as a moderator in the discourse and you should always be a ‘Caleb’, an optimistic and positive person. This attracts people to you.
  5. Find a mentor. Every leader is unique. If you want to be yourself, never take everything you believe and the way you live from a single person. Go for as many people who have achieved something of worth. Research them or keep their company.  Take certain aspects of their lives. The reason is, almost everyone has unique genetic coding that makes the difference even among people of same personality trait; if you pattern your life after what you can see, you may be getting to know too late, you are not getting as far as they got.
  6. Build a worklife balance. In a world where marriages are in shamble and children learn cruelness for lack of homely love because couples are too busy making money, you sure want to make a difference. You can’t afford to create problems for a world you are striving to give economic freedom. Learn early how to enjoy life. Share time with the people that matter in your life – say 1 to 2 hours daily, maybe over dinner or a stroll. If you learn that in your 20s before the obligations increase, it will form part of your life later on.
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.


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