Defining Reputation Through Leadership and Action
Nigeria is a nation in transition. It is clear that while there have been instances recently which have unsettled Nigeria’s growth trajectory, there is no doubt of the long term economic potential of the country, the momentum it has gained by adopting a market-oriented approach and the reforms it is enacting through policy development and efforts to increase transparency. In a number of areas, the opportunity in Nigeria has come to symbolise a new economic era in Africa and is the focus of increased foreign investment and greater commercial competition.
Nigeria is also a nation of great diversity, embracing a wide span of religions, cultures, languages and traditions, and a people that are collectively defined by their optimism and energy. This entrepreneurial spirit embodies the pride, the hard work and the resilience of Nigerians and, together with better access to capital, has led to the emergence of some amazing success stories, particularly in private sector development where home-grown businesses have become pan regional, even global, in their ambitions. Nigeria’s reputation for being serious about business is enhanced by the success of these organisations. It is also strengthened by government taking a harder line on corruption and by more businesses adopting and demanding high standards of governance and corporate integrity. This in turn engenders trust among institutions, stakeholders and civil society.
People often talk of Nigeria’s vast deposits of fossil fuels as its greatest export potential, but in many respects, its dynamic and entrepreneurial people are its most enabling natural resource. Human capital is after all the one common factor that drives development and associated growth no matter what sector, no matter what economy.
At Guinness Nigeria, our people are our difference. They are the game changers in a new reality which sees both challenges and opportunities getting bigger for our business, and they are a source of competitive advantage in our industry. So how do we inspire them to rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities?
We have a clear vision that I regularly share with my 1,500 colleagues in Guinness Nigeria - to be the most celebrated and respected business in Nigeria and earn iconic status among investors, employees and stakeholders. It is also a powerful source of an aspiration that is translatable into everybody’s
job and a collective catalyst for our people to achieve greatness in everything we do. It creates a culture in which people can take accountability of others success and where teams can align and accelerate performance.
But what does it mean to be iconic? It may mean to many to be the biggest, the highest
performing, most profitable, the market leader. Clearly as a businessman, those measures are
non-negotiable for me, and ones by which our company will assessed both internally and externally. But as the chief executive of a Nigerian business in a Nigeria that is transforming to become a global power, a leading nation with greater visibility on the world’s stage, I envisage our business to stand and define its success beyond this. Iconic stands for greater accountability and responsibility, and generating shared prosperity. But crucially it stands for leadership.
Nigerians make for good leaders. In fact Nigeria is a net exporter of talent within Diageo with many Nigerians holding senior positions within the wider company. I myself have benefitted from developing my leadership and experience in other countries. We invest significantly in our leadership programmes at graduate, mid career and senior level to develop the skills of our future directors and managers and ensure that we have a strong pipeline of talented people that will continue to grow our brands and our company. We also strive to create the best possible conditions and freedom for people to succeed by optimising our systems and processes, developing career development paths attuned to strengths and ambitions, and providing a safe, world -class working environment for our employees and those that work with us.
Indeed essential to the engagement of our people around our vision is through the clear articulation of our corporate values and our broader reputation as a responsible corporate citizen and a contributor to society as a whole. Pride within Guinness Nigeria comes not only from the delivery of great performance and business outcomes, but from the association with an organisation that truly represents people’s values and integrity. It is why we place so much emphasis on our leadership standards in a broader sense, and why we go to great lengths in communicating and engaging around it internally.
Our reputation is also defined by being a force for good, making significant contributions to the communities in which we live and work. In partnership with other like-minded corporate organisations, we want to set the right standards for ethical behaviour and good governance in our operations and relationships.
The private sector in Nigeria has a significant and important role to play in establishing benchmarks and ways of working that encourages enterprise development, upholds good governance and accountability, attracts quality investors and positively impacts our communities. We will play our role, but we will also play it collectively as 1,500 people. This is what we certainly hope defines our legacy as an iconic business and a contributor to sustained growth in Nigeria today.
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Seni Adetu is Chief Executive and Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria plc.
This article was written for "The New Africa: From Growth to Jobs", a publication by Business Action for Africa in partnership with the Initiative for Global Development. The Report was sponsored by CDC, and was launched at an event in Cape Town on 8 May. The event was convened by Business Action for Africa and the Initiative for Global Development, hosted by Ernst & Young and sponsored by Standard Chartered.