Building to Last Through Effective Leadership

Effective leadership is such a critical element of a successful organization, whether large or small.

People respond positively to leadership that is credible and effective; in good times, bad times, steady state or changing times. Effective leadership creates the space for both setting strategy and for executing.

Sometimes it is said that leaders are born and not made. I firmly believe great leaders are made – that institutional ethos and culture nurture and grow talent. The ability to effectively lead and direct a group of people requires a complex set of skills, acquired overtime through experiences, self-development, and training. The relationship is symbiotic – great institutions create great leaders – great leaders create great institutions.

Last week, on the 1st of August, the UBA Group Board announced the appointment of Oliver Alawuba as the new Group Managing Director of UBA. For some, Oliver’s appointment comes as no news. Oliver has served the Group for over 25 years and has risen through the ranks, at each step taking in new challenges and succeeding, as CEO UBA Ghana, the CEO of UBA Africa, Group Deputy Managing Director and now GMD/CEO.

Oliver took over from Kennedy Uzoka, who had also been with the Group for over 27 years.! KU, as we fondly call him, started as a teller, rising through HR, Branch head, corporate communications, corporate services, to becoming the CEO of UBA Africa, Deputy Group Managing Director and finally, Group MD in 2016. Under his leadership, UBA consolidated its African network, pushed further globally and received awards such as Africa’s most innovative bank, with our chat bot, Leo which has changed the way banking is being done on the continent.

Kennedy in turn, received his baton from Phillip Oduoza, who was at UBA since 2004. He was an ED, DMD at UBA before his appointment as GMD. While he was GMD, he shepherded the Group through the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis and prepared UBA for the next growth phase, that Kennedy drove.

Four generations of leadership succession since the 2004 merger of UBA with the erstwhile STB from left to right, Oliver Alwauba, Kennedy Uzoka, Philip Oduoza & TOE

Four generations of leadership succession since the 2004 merger of UBA with the erstwhile STB

For all of us at United Bank of Africa; past and current GMDs, there are unifying qualities that have stood out and these qualities are Purpose, Emotional Intelligence, and Legacy.

1. Purpose & Drive

The leaders who succeed have purpose. They realize that leadership without purpose or mission is self-defeating. To them, occupying office on its own is not an end, but a means to an end. Those who succeed are driven by a mission. There is no happenstance in leadership.

2. Emotional intelligence:

Effective leaders know that emotional intelligence is different from diplomacy and office politics. They are aware of how others feel and do not focus on their own emotions.

Great leadership is a combination of humility, inclusiveness, empathy, and maturity.

3. Legacy

Those leaders who succeed are leaders who think about legacy, those leaders who are concerned about how history would judge them and how history will write about them. They understand that leadership opportunities do not last forever. They understand that to succeed in business you have to lead well.

There you have it – a magic formula: Purpose and drive; the importance of emotional intelligence; a sense of legacy. These create great leaders, great institutions – and we can all be leaders, at every level – let us learn and act!

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