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7 More Questions on Leadership with Dr. Steve Olusegun Ogidan

Name: Dr. Steve Olusegun Ogidan

Title: Managing Director/CEO


Dr Steve Olusegun OGIDAN, member of the National Institute, Nigeria (mni) is a self-motivated and hardworking development planner, with experience in Business Development Strategy, Microfinance management, Agriculture Value Chain Research, as well as human resources development. He is a microfinance development trainer and strategist, with core competence and experience in business strategy, value chain development and rural development.

A detail-oriented and analytically minded individual with work experience in agricultural finance, business development and enterprise promotion strategy. Excels in fast-paced environments with challenging deadlines. Demonstrates excellent interpersonal and communication skills to establish connections and trust with stakeholders. Experienced business development professional with a strong background in developing successful new business strategies to maximise opportunities. Knowledgeable Strategy Expert with experience in programme management, development strategy organisational .

Honest, confident and friendly communicator. Keeps up-to-date understanding of key markets, developing new strategies to capitalise on emerging customer trends.

He was educated Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, University of Lagos, Nigeria and Trinity College Malanga, Spain. He was also trained in the NEGEV Institute of Strategy, Beer Sheva, and the Galilee International Management Institute, Israel. He attended the Vaikuth Mehta National Institute for Cooperative and Rural Development in Pune, India. He also attended major prestigious Business Schools around the world for his executive education: These included the Harvard Business School, the Wharton Business School of University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Business School, New York Others are the Boulder Institute of Microfinance, Turin, Italy and the School of African Microfinance, Mombasa, Kenya.

Before his consulting business, Dr Ogidan was a microfinance practitioner as Head of Strategy and later Regional Manager for the former Peoples Bank of Nigeria and later Bank of Agriculture (BoA). He is an accredited Trainer by Centre for Management Development (CMD) Nigeria, International Labour Organization, ITC/ILO, Turin, Italy, delivering Making Microfinance Work MMW I & II, Center for Microfinance Leadership of the Women’s World Banking, New York, delivering Microfinance Management Development Programme, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank as a Business Edge Trainer. Dr Ogidan was a team member of FGN/European Union team on the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform (WSSSR) programme. He was a consultant to the World Health Organization on Banking for Health.

He was also training consultant to PrOpCom (Promoting Pro-poor Opportunities in Commodity and Service Markets) and International Fertilizer Development Corporation, IFDC. He was the Team Leader for unprecedented three terms for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd FGN/IFAD-RUFIN Supervision Missions for Nigeria between 2010 and 2013. He was a consultant to the UNDP and the Central Bank of Nigeria on Microfinance Development Strategy. He was part of the team that designed the Microfinance Certification Programme, MCP for the CBN and CIBN. He is a Microfinance Training Service Provider (MTSP) and also a post-examination monitor to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He was a Management Strategy Consultant and Trainer to the Nigerian Railway Corporation. He was Strategy Consultant to the Central Bank of Liberia on Financial Inclusion, 2011-2012. He was the Coordinator and Team member of the ITC/ILO International Experts Team that developed Training Curriculum and Manuals on Access to Finance for Workers and Trade Unions in Africa 2010- 2013. He was trained and certified by the Asian Development Bank Institute/Tokyo Development Learning Centre as a microfinance master trainer.

In partnership with Making Cents International, Dr Ogidan has been certified to deliver the Youth-Inclusive Financial Services, YFS another product to deepen the outreach of Microfinance in developing countries. He has also been appointed as a Local Service Support LSS Provider and Trainer for the German Donor Agency, Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED) and Bread for the World (BfdW) currently training its 22 Partner Organisations in Nigeria. He was the BDS/ Grant Specialist on the World Bank MSME Rice Value Chain Project as well as the Kaduna State Coordinator of the World Bank State-Level Private Sector Policy And Institutional-Mapping (SPPIM) project implemented by Nathan Associates, UK. He was a DFID national consultant on developing lending policies and loan recovery strategies and training curriculum for Microfinance Banks in Kaduna State under the Growth and Employment in States (GEMS 3) Nigeria Project. He led the team that carried our rapid market assessment and research for the establishment of Microcred Nigeria, 2009 to 2013. Dr Ogidan was the regional consultant for African Development Bank (AfDB) Microfinance Evaluation Mission to Liberia in November 2013.

A Commonwealth Scholar at the National Institute Pune, India, 1994, a MASHAV (Government of Israel) Scholar at the NEGEV Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED), Beer Sheva, Israel 2006 and a MasterCard Foundation Scholar at the School of African Microfinance, Kenya, 2008. He is Faculty Member and Strategy Expert-in-Residence of Pan Atlantic University, Enterprise Development Centre as well as Centre for Microfinance Leadership, New York and the School of African Microfinance, Kenya. He is also a faculty member at the West African Institute of Finance and Economic Management, an Institute of the West African Monetary Union of ECOWAS. He is a consultant to the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) on project management and agricultural finance.

He is a training and MSME Consultant to the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA and the Association of the African Development Institutions, AADFI. Dr Ogidan has worked as a Consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in Angola and Mozambique in deeping Blended Finance, de-risking and Risk Sharing for agricultural Lending. He led the Team that designed and launched the Togo Incentives Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, (MIFA-TIRSAL) in 2018.

Dr Ogidan who is the MD/CEO of Successory Nigeria Ltd and Chairman, Global Knowledge Group also chairs the Board of Directors of a Microfinance Bank while providing management assistances to a number of Microfinance Banks and Businesses across Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, the Gambia, South Africa and the Royal Kingdom of Morocco. He is a Fellow of the Microfinance Association of the United Kingdom. He is also Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC), Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of bankers of Nigeria, CIBN and the Chairperson of the Kaduna Trainers Group. Dr Ogidan is a member of the Forbes Business Council, 2022

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.

I hope Steve's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?

No leader can succeed without trust. It is the cornerstone for success in every relationship and as a result, I am intentional about cultivating it in my personal and professional relationships. Building trust as a leader is essential for fostering strong and productive relationships within a team or organization. Trust is earned over time through consistent actions and behaviors aligned with integrity, honesty, and reliability. Here are some keyways I build trust as a leader:

1. I lead by example: I normally demonstrate the values and behaviors I expect from others. I hold myself very accountable for my actions and admit my mistakes. I also take responsibility for the consequences. Leading with integrity and authenticity sets the foundation for trust. Like a wise man once goes, “What we do is so loud that people don’t really hear what we say.” I am careful to embody the values I expect from my employees and stakeholders and this consistency in my words and actions reinforces trust.

2. Transparent and Authentic Communication, I am open, honest, and consistent in my communication and have observed that it fosters openness, reliability, and a genuine connection. I foster open and transparent communication. As a good listener, I seek feedback, and encourage open dialogue. Clearly articulating expectations and ensuring that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. Clear and timely communication builds trust and reduces uncertainty and ambiguity.

3. Establish Respectful Relationships: Treating others with respect and dignity and create a positive and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated is a win- win approach to building trust. I show empathy, seek to understand different perspectives, and appreciate the strengths and contributions of each team member. I also uphold ethical standards in all my dealings with employees, customers and stakeholders. This reputation for integrity reinforces trust in our interactions. Being Accountable and Reliable: I follow through on my commitments and promises. When I make a mistake, apologize and take steps to rectify the situation. I show consistency in your actions, decisions, and follow-up. Being reliable and accountable builds trust and credibility.

4. I encourage collaboration and teamwork. I also create opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and diverse perspectives. When team members feel their input is valued and respected, trust in the leader and the team grows.

5. Employee Empowerment: I give employees the autonomy to make decisions relating to their work. This sends a clear message to them that I value their judgement and believe in their ability to contribute meaningfully to the organization. By delegating and empowering team members, allowing them to demonstrate their capabilities and develop new skills new tasks are responsibilities are easily accomplished I also empower my team by providing autonomy, support, and constructive feedback. Showing trust in their abilities builds their confidence and overall trust in my leadership.

6. Recognizing and appreciating while fostering Collaboration: Celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and efforts of your team members. Recognize their contributions and provide meaningful feedback. Showing gratitude and appreciation fosters a positive environment and strengthens trust.

7. Developing and supporting: Invest in the growth and development of your team members. Provide opportunities for learning, training, and mentorship. Supporting their professional growth and personal well-being builds trust and loyalty.

2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?

"Vision" is the bold, forward-looking narrative that defines why an organization exists and what it aspires to become. It is the articulation of preferred future that is vivid enough to galvanize actions. It's an organization’s picture of its future – one that inspires and guides it decisions. A vision therefore represents an organization's or individual's desired future state or long-term goal. It is a clear and inspiring description of what they aspire to achieve.

A vision statement outlines the direction, values, and overarching purpose that guide decision-making and actions. It serves as a guiding star, providing a sense of purpose and motivation for setting and pursuing goals. "Mission," on the other hand, is the tangible plan for getting there. It encompasses the daily actions and choices the organization will follow to bring its vision to life. A real-world example that shows how organizations use them in the real-world of business can be found by studying the company – Google.

Google’s vision is "to provide access to the world's information in one click" and its mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." The company is living out both its vision and mission by designing digital products like its Google's search engine, Google Maps, Google Drive etc. These products aim to make information readily available to people worldwide and this aligns with their vision of simplifying access to knowledge and data and driving innovation across the digital landscape.

Through this example we see how a company’s vision and mission create a powerful framework to achieve success and serve as a guide for decision-making.

While the vision provides a desired future state or goal, the mission focuses on the present purpose, actions, and values necessary to move towards that vision. Both vision and mission statements are important strategic tools that organizations and individuals use to define their purpose, guide decision-making, and inspire others to join them in achieving their aspirations.

3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?

A leader can empower the people they are leading in a variety of ways. These include but are not limited to the followings:

1. Trust and delegation: Leaders can empower their team members by trusting their abilities and delegating tasks and responsibilities to them. Giving employees the autonomy and authority to make decisions and take ownership of their work can boost their confidence and motivation.

2. Effective communication: Clear, open, and transparent communication is crucial for empowering individuals. Leaders should actively listen to their team members, encourage their input, and provide regular feedback. Sharing information and objectives helps everyone understand their roles and contributes to a sense of empowerment.

3. Setting clear goals: Leaders should set and communicate clear goals and objectives, both for individuals and the team as a whole. When employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they are more likely to feel empowered to act and make decisions aligned with those goals.

4. Providing development opportunities: Leaders can empower their team by supporting their professional growth and development. This could include offering training programs, mentorship opportunities, or challenging assignments that allow individuals to learn and expand their skills.

5. Recognizing and appreciating achievements: Acknowledging and recognizing the contributions and achievements of team members is an important way to empower them. Whether through verbal praise, rewards, or promotions, recognizing their efforts boosts morale and motivates individuals to continue performing at a high level.

6. Promoting a supportive culture: Creating a culture of support, collaboration, and inclusion is vital for empowering people. Leaders should foster an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and encouraged to express their ideas and opinions without fear of judgment or reprisal.

7. Encourage Continuous Learning: Knowledge and skill empowers us to act. By investing in employee development and offering opportunities for growth and development, leaders empower their followers to excel.

4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?

There are coaches and mentors in my life that have made positive impacts. Some are even late. I cherished their insights and thoughts. One of them was the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, The Premier of Western Nigeria in the 1960s. His thoughts and writings were so inspiring that following his dictates in those books encourages one to build resilience. One of my coaches was my lecturer in the University, Prof Patrick Wilmot. He really encouraged and inspired me when I was in the Ahmadu Bello University. He was the one who taught me that students failed exams not because they do not read. But because they lack strategy.

He said that with the right strategy, you will achieve anything you want in life. I did not forget his inspiration. Another mentor I will not forget is Mrs Hamra Imam who was my Managing Director when I was in the Bank. She taught me a lot of things in administration. Another coach of repute is the great author in Public Policy, Prof Tunji Olaopa whom I met for the first time when he was a Permanent Secretary in Federal Civil Service. We also met again at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies where is served as my directing staff.

Prof Olaopa taught why it is always difficult for governments in Africa to implement programmes they planned for their people. Others with significant impacts on my career, consulting and service include Dr Dumisani Magadlela of South Africa and Cheryl Frankiewicz and Dr Craig Churchill my master trainers in the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation. ITC/ILO

5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?

I maintain focus in my role in some ways especially as it is clear that as a leader, you do not only decide what you do, you also decide what not to do. These are a variety of ways I remain focus.

1. Clear vision and goals: A leader should have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and set specific goals to reach that vision. By clearly defining their objectives, they can stay focused and prioritize their actions accordingly. By regularly revisiting and updating my company’s strategic plans I am able to maintain my focus on long-term objectives, thus minimizing distractions from short-term issues.

2. Prioritization and time management: Leaders need to prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively. This involves identifying the most important and urgent tasks and allocating time and resources accordingly. Effective time management techniques, such as creating schedules, setting deadlines, and avoiding distractions, can help leaders remain focused on their priorities.

3. Delegation: A good leader knows how to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the right individuals. By properly assigning tasks to team members, leaders can free up their own time to focus on strategic initiatives and key responsibilities.

4. Staying organized: Leaders need to stay organized to maintain focus. This includes keeping their workspace organized, managing their email and documents systematically, and having a clear plan for their projects and tasks. Being organized helps leaders avoid unnecessary clutter and distractions that can hinder their focus.

5. Avoiding multitasking: While multitasking may seem like a way to get more things done, it often leads to decreased productivity and loss of focus. A good leader understands the importance of focusing on one task at a time and giving it their full attention before moving on to the next one.

6. Mindfulness and self-awareness: Practicing mindfulness and being self-aware can help leaders remain focused. By being present in the moment and aware of their thoughts, emotions, and distractions, leaders can better manage their attention and redirect it to the task at hand.

7. Seeking support and accountability: Leaders can benefit from seeking support and accountability from trusted individuals. This can be in the form of mentors, coaches, or a peer network that helps them stay focused and on track with their goals.

8. Regular breaks and self-care: Taking regular breaks and practicing self-care is essential for maintaining focus and avoiding burnout. Leaders should schedule time for relaxation, exercise, and other activities that rejuvenate their mind and body. I use different forms of information filters to manage the influx of information. One way I achieve this is by relying on key advisors and reports to provide me with relevant and essential data. As a leader, I avoid exposing the weakest link of the chain. That is why most time, my team members say: Only our leader knows what our leader is thinking.

6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?

I conduct annual strategic planning sessions, review progress quarterly, analyze monthly metrics and KPIs, and set weekly goals. After setting strategic priorities for the year, I review and adjust them quarterly to stay on track. Monthly metrics help me assess performance and identify areas for improvement, while weekly planning ensures that I allocate time for important tasks. These planning strategies help me maintain a forward-looking perspective, that both aligns my organizations with long-term objectives, and enables them to swiftly adapt to changing circumstances. As a strategist, I use a variety of tools:

The process for weeks, months, and years in effective planning takes the following steps:

1. Define your long-term vision: Start by clarifying your long-term vision or desired outcome. Determine what you want to achieve in the months or years ahead, both personally and professionally.

2. Set specific goals: Break down your long-term vision into smaller, measurable goals for each time period. Create SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These goals will provide a clear focus for your planning.

3. Monthly planning: At the beginning of each month, review your long-term goals and identify the specific steps you need to take to make progress towards them. Prioritize the most important tasks or initiatives for the month based on their impact on your goals.

4. Weekly planning: Break down your monthly goals into weekly objectives. Identify the key tasks or actions you need to complete during the week to move closer to your monthly goals. Allocate time and resources for each task and schedule them in your calendar.

5. Daily planning: To make progress towards your weekly objectives, plan each day by outlining the specific tasks or actions to be accomplished. Prioritize your tasks based on their urgency and importance. Allocate specific blocks of time for focused work and allocate time for breaks, meetings, and other commitments.

6. Review and adjustment: Regularly review your progress against your goals and adjust your plans as needed. Assess what is working well and what needs improvement. Make necessary adjustments to your actions, timelines, or priorities to stay on track.

7. Long-term planning: Periodically review and update your long-term vision and goals. As you achieve certain milestones or circumstances change, reassess your long-term objectives and adjust your plans accordingly.

8. Track your progress: Keep a record of your achievements, challenges, and lessons learned. Regularly track your progress towards your goals, celebrate milestones, and analyze any deviations or areas for improvement.

However, I ensure that flexibility is important in long-term planning. Circumstances may change, priorities may shift, and new opportunities may arise. Adaptability and willingness to revise your plans will enable you to stay aligned with your long-term vision while remaining agile in response to changes.

7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?

To any young leader struggling to delegate effectively, here is my advice:

1. Learn to Trust Your Team: Have confidence in their abilities and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how capable they are of handling responsibilities.

2. Start Small: Start by delegating small tasks and as you gain confidence in their abilities, you can increase the complexity of the tasks.

3. Clear Communication: Clearly communicate goals, timelines, desired outcomes and consequences. Ensure everyone understand their roles and what’s expected from them per time.

4. Delegate to the Right People: Assign tasks based on team members’ skills, interests and strengths.

5. Accept Mistakes: Mistakes will happen. Expect them and when they occur, use them as valuable learning experiences.

6. Recognize and Celebrate Successes: This will boost your team’s morale.

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