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7 Questions on Leadership with Victor Akhidenor

Name: Victor Akhidenor

Title: Head, Media

Organisation: Migrant Resource Centre Benin City Nigeria

I am a content creator based in Nigeria.

After winning the Diamond Award for Media Excellence in the sports reporting category in 2015, I decided to venture into other areas of interest. That’s a summary.

Here’s the “full” story.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Media and Communication. I also have a certificate in Human Capital Development, another in Media Enterprise, a D Diploma in football coaching, and PMD Pro Level 1. I have work experience in insurance claims processing, marketing, credit analysis, and corporate communications in the banking sector.

I started my journalism career in 2011 at Complete Communications Limited, publishers of Complete Sports where I was in charge of the production of its bi-weekly sister publication – i-Soccer.

I joined an online paper, TheCable, in 2014 where I wrote and edited the sports page but also handled special projects outside my beat. Currently, I head the media team of the Migrant Resource Centre in Benin City, Edo State.

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

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


Jonno White

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

I’m a sports enthusiast, so my example naturally comes from that field: I try not to “drop the ball”. When a player fails to catch a ball, he’s charged with an error. To make a mistake, especially by not taking action or dealing with something that should have been planned for, is “dropping the ball”. The two common mistakes of leaders are failure to make an obvious decision and failure to implement a decision that has been taken.

When I was the editor of an online sports paper, I waited too long to suspend an erring subordinate. I wasn’t indecisive because he was the best writer. I was vacillating because his articles gave the paper the highest page views, comments, and engagements. And that’s the equivalent of sales to a hard copy newspaper! I eventually decided to avoid destroying what I was building.

Decisiveness, which I call “not dropping the ball”, is the greatest attribute of a leader.

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

Knowledge of local and international football made me realize I was a leader.

“Let’s go and ask NFA,” was usually the response when arguments on football proved too difficult for my secondary schoolmates. They knew the “chairman” of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) had the final say.

I was the chairman!

I have always loved football. While growing up, one couldn’t escape from the attraction of two-a-side or three-a-side games depending on the size of the ‘pitch’. Skills and talent took a backseat then; we just played for fun. I could have been a poor man’s Cafu (the retired Brazilian football player) but for my limited natural flair. I ventured into reading, writing and talking football instead. I’m still a freelance sports writer.

Currently, my knowledge and ability make me a leader in the workplace. They have entrusted me with duties outside my core functions because of these attributes. Despite being the head of the media team of the Migrant Resource Centre, they have given me assignments outside my key role. And they have not found me wanting.

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

If sleep were Mrs. Akhidenor, she would have accused me of unfaithfulness! I go to bed around midnight and wake up by 3am. When I wake up, I pray and proclaim “it’s gonna be a great day”. Then I hit the internet. I update my LIFT (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter [Elon Musk can call it X for all I care]) platforms; attend to important emails and WhatsApp messages. After that, I do all the boring routines that culminate in me getting dressed for work.

Work is 8 to 4 (unlike the popular 9 to 5), Monday to Friday. Most Mondays are for departmental and unit meetings. The regular functions entail attending to returned migrants, would-be migrants, job seekers, and the like. I go on break between noon and I pm.

After work, especially on Fridays, I hang out with friends. I get home around 8pm and hit the bed by 12.

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

Communication. A leader must communicate his thoughts. Written. Spoken. Non-verbal. Clearly. A leader must learn to speak more or less, depending on who he’s speaking to and where he’s speaking. When in a meeting, workshop, training, etc. always contribute to the discussion. Silence is golden, but not in all situations. Not in this situation. You must express yourself lucidly and intelligently.

You’re in a brainstorming session on tackling internal migration in Nigeria. You’ve earned your presence in the meeting by being a staff of the Migrant Resource Centre. Someone spoke about addressing the root causes of migration and implementing measures to ensure that people have better opportunities and quality of life in their regions. Another came up with approaches like economic development, infrastructure development, education and skills training, social protection and welfare programmes that can be done to nip the problem in the bud. And all you contributed was nods, thump-ups, and claps?

Thinkers have taught us that it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubts. There are times when this same much-revered virtue becomes our enemy. There are times when some things are better not left unsaid. Say it during the brainstorming session.

Communication. A leader must communicate his thoughts clearly. Written. Spoken. Non-verbal. Clearly.

You should speak less during conflicts and arguments; in important meetings or negotiations; when seeking to understand others, or when seeking personal reflection or introspection. But not during a brainstorming session on tackling internal migration in Nigeria.

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?

That’s definitely “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking book that provides valuable insights into the nature of power and influence. The book made me know that in order to be an effective leader, one must understand and master the laws of power.

Some of the important points include the need to cultivate a reputation for strength, the need to strike a balance between appearing charming and appearing fearsome, the value of using surprise and misdirection, and the importance of maintaining flexibility and adaptability.

To navigate the complex and ever-changing world of politics, business, and everyday life, all leaders need to understand these laws of power. By learning from the examples and insights in this book, leaders can avoid common mistakes and make better decisions that will help them achieve their goals.

The book is an essential read for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of power dynamics and become a more effective leader.

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

Have control over your personal life. Leadership starts by gaining control of your domestic life. Are you at peace with yourself? Is there peace and tranquillity at home, work, and community? Are your hobbies and other extracurricular activities enhancing or hindering your growth? Is what you do outside what you’re inside?

Do you still consider yourself a leader? If you tick all the boxes, you are on a path to success. And you will have a good following.

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

Not everyone will be happy when you’re being praised or celebrated. I have read this in books and saw it happen to someone I knew. But it rang true when I experienced it firsthand. Between June 12 and 16, 2023, I was a part of the delegation from the Migrant Resource Centre to Berlin, Germany. We were on a study tour on job placement, vocational guidance and cooperation sponsored by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

On our return to Nigeria, I did a series of articles that captured our time in Berlin. About two months later, another event brought most of us together in Abuja. And for close to 15 minutes, I was the talk of the town! Words like “you’re a genius”, “you’re super creative”, and “you’re in a world of your own”, rend the air. Everyone was genuinely happy for me and couldn’t hold back the accolades. But two people in the room kept mute throughout the 900 seconds of “songs of praise”. I couldn’t say for sure that resentment was going through their minds. It was clear, though, that they would have wished to be the cynosure. Immediately, I knew where I was with them and how to relate with them henceforth. I told myself: “Don’t lose your focus”.

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