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7 Questions on Leadership with Bastou Adjadi

Name: Bastou Adjadi

Title: Business System (Way of Working) Lead

Organisation: West Africa Container Terminal

Visible driving force with 15 years of experience in leading and delivering complex/wide business transformation and change management programs. Top notch experienced Lean & Six Sigma Black Belt (PMI) and accredited Project Management Practitioner (Prince2).

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

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


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Being flexible in the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. Make quick and effective decisions as leader in a rapidly changing environment with limited information and constantly changing customer needs.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I’m born as a natural leader being the first born of a family of 7. This position pushed me very early to face leadership trials where I owned to take responsibilities, inspire, coach and most importantly act as role model to my siblings.

Professionally, I got promoted to my first leadership role in March 2008 with the amazing opportunity to lead Maersk Niger’s Customer Service Team. I oversaw all Customer Service activities (Import and Export) in Niger including all intermodal shipments coming from Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. I was in charge of a team of 3 wonderful fellows based in different locations. Through this position, I learnt how to efficiently lead a dispersed team in different and multi-cultural environment. It was at the same time, a challenging and exciting experience. With time, have succeeded in bringing the best out of the team. In fact, I brilliantly established a robust and fluid people-oriented business system which focused at delivering lasting experience to customers.

This first experience served as a compass in my career as leader. It helped me built strong confidence and realized how impactful I could be in influencing, inspiring and contributing into other people growth.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I aim to always begin my days with the end in mind. Ensuring to have a clear idea about what I want to get out of each day (what?). Then, a tailored schedule (how?) to get the desired outcomes.

Besides, work life balance is key. In this respect, I allocate reasonable time between work, family, friends and myself (meditation). At the end of the day, one important thing I cherished is my “Hansei” time (auto reflection: what went well? even better if?)

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Listen to the voice of many, but always speak with your own voice.

Humans tend to judge each other based on various features such as: appearance, behavior, belief and action. This is because people have different paradigms and expectations which influence their perception and judgement of others.

Meanwhile, it is important to remember that not everyone will judge you the same way, and not all judgements are accurate or fair. It is natural to want to be accepted and validated by others, but it is also important to develop a sense of self-worth and confidence that is not solely dependent on external validation

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I have the power to choose how much weight I give to other people’s judgement of me. It is important to remember that you are the one who determines your self-worth, not others. Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

My favorite leadership book is: Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annies McKee

Often, we think that what makes an effective leader are strategy, vision or brilliant ideas. With this book, I realized that exceptional leadership is about resonating with your team and influencing without authority. You don’t need a title to be a leader. It’s all about how you are able to influence without authority and make visible/lasting impacts on people and business.

This book describes perfectly how to use the following six leadership styles: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and commanding.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Equip yourself with practical knowledge and skills applicable across various industries.

The skills and capabilities which brought you to a level will not necessarily be enough to take you to the next level. Hence you need to keep sharpening your saw. Strive to always be the best you can be.

Make your personal development your main priority. Keep stretching your limits.

''There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living'' ~ Nelson Mandela

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

In 2018, life thrown at my face a sad situation which I was not expecting professionally. Though, the beauty of it resided in the fact that, it helped me to re-invent myself and unfold hidden potentials I was not using.

Re-inventing myself as Consultant helped me to broaden my network. I experienced working in various business industry (Stevedoring, Banking, Farming, Etc.) It is a priceless learning and personal growth experience.

The strong unspoken winds of change can be unexpected, but it also possesses the power to force actions in life that enhance our future!

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