Leadership Lessons – From 47,000 Feet 

The future of Africa lies in the hands of our youth. 

I am constantly amazed by the young disruptors I meet.  Take Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, who leads Flutterwave, one of Africa’s fintech unicorns. 

We met recently at a conference in India, where he invited me to speak with his employees.  Yesterday on a flight from Abu Dhabi, where I participated at the Healthcare Leaders Forum, to London, I took an hour to address the Flutterwave team.  47,000 feet up in the air, I tuned onto the virtual link to address a group of young visionaries, passionate to make a difference and pushing boundaries of innovation. 

We discussed my philosophy of Africapitalism, leadership and my entrepreneurial experiences. 

Here are some key takeaways from our discussion: 

  • African Resilience: In my journey, I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly. What keeps me going? It is the realisation that our work transcends personal achievements. It represents the hope and aspirations of an entire continent.  

Africa is ready for a new narrative—one of success, resilience, and innovation. An individual’s success goes beyond their organisation and inspires countless young Africans to dream bigger and aim higher, and vice versa.  

  • Get the Right Team: Success hinges on having a team that is not just competent, but passionately aligned with your vision. I have always attributed my success to my team—individuals who are disciplined, hardworking, and willing to make sacrifices for long-term gains. 
  • Nurture Shared Vision and Values: Ensuring everyone buys into the vision is crucial.  It is about setting clear values of hard work, resilience, and foresight. Building the right culture over time involves short-term sacrifices for long-term rewards, demanding both discipline and courage. 
  • The Power of Execution: I have a team of capable leaders who can propagate my vision better than me sometimes. Execution is key —having people who can turn strategies into realities is a great recipe for success. Every day presents a ledger of challenges and accomplishments, and we must continually strive to excel. 
  • Own your mission: Pride in one’s achievements can come in many forms. For me, it could be as simple as convincing a talented individual to join our mission or seeing a project come to life. I do not dwell on failures. Instead, I take learning points and ensure they never happen again. 
  • Improve your decision-making: I gave an example of the UBA and STB. This experience taught me that people integration is one of the toughest challenges. Success in this area requires aligning diverse departments and functions towards a common goal, pushing an interconnected culture, and maintaining clear, consistent communication.  
  • Relentlessly promote the right culture: I owe the success of our organisations to the discipline of instilling the right culture that supports our vision and ensures the autonomy of decision-making.  Companies that want to succeed must make trade-offs on what they should drop, and who they want on board to move the vision forward. 
  • The power of storytelling to change the African narrative: As an advocate of Africapitalism, I believe in highlighting our continent’s successes. Counter negative perceptions with your own story—share your achievements and the positive impact you are making.  Stay laser-focused on your mission and remain intolerant of anything that detracts from your brand or culture.  Extraordinary achievements often invite skepticism, but your persistence and consistent success will eventually shift perceptions. 
  • Defining the right balance for success: Success, to me, is not about the money in the bank but the lasting impact we create.  It is about the discipline to say no to distractions and the foresight to stay on track. 
  • Balancing Family and Business: Balancing professional ambitions with personal life is a crossroads many often face. For me, it is about building a legacy that lasts, ensuring that both my business and family thrive.  It involves making time for what truly matters and promoting a supportive environment where they can both flourish. 

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