What do the words, THANK YOU, mean to you?

In Spanish, thank you is ‘mil gracias’. Are they just two words? Do they mean more? Are they meant to be used only in our homes and for loved ones only? Do they have any bearing on staff productivity? Is there any bearing with saying ‘thank you on mind engagement and loyalty of employees? Why would a lady, who knows she is loved still want to hear the words said out clearly? It is reassurance. It is validation. It is confirmation of team-ness!

I had a driver who was very diligent in driving and car care. My car was always very clean. He would clean the car at virtually every meeting stop we had. I appreciated this and had my ways of acknowledgement. This varied depending on my mood and circumstance. He loved it when I let in a space for a little chit-chat while driving. Sometimes, an update about his family, sometimes a local issue where he lived. Simple words like ‘these your tyres are shining’ bring a glow to his eyes. There are thus different ways to say thank you.

When you say thank you, people develop a feeling that they have done something to help you, something you appreciate. It is not a weakness to acknowledge anyone. For some, it is a mind game. ‘Thank you’ gives pleasure. It gives motivation. It breeds commitment and loyalty. It is an attitude of gratitude, which is increasingly becoming rare in a world of ego competition. Unknown to many, gratitude is a great influencer. It looks old-fashioned, but is fresh to recipients! Imagine having to park your car yourself, on a day your driver could not come to the office and you are already late for a meeting in areas where parking is difficult like Marina, Lagos. You should then acknowledge the service, even though he is in your pay role.

Even the sophisticated, acknowledge and appreciate ‘thank you, though may appear not to care. To your employees, you would have made their day – when you say ‘thank you, this is good!’ Some bosses who struggle with their ego or complex, think it brings them down to say thank you. I worked with a staff who told me one thing she learned working with me was not to be afraid to acknowledge a staff’s strength and grow it. I won her deep loyalty throughout. I also enjoyed the benefit of good staff wanting to move with me when I moved a job. ‘Thank you and acknowledgements create a strong sense of security. They had my back often! I had theirs’ too. That of course did not take away the firmness needed on the job and the sense of urgency on the job. For some, this is where the problem lies – finding the delicate balance between being firm and being nice. It has to be worked at. We need both!

With my spouse, at intervals, I remember some things she had done consistently unacknowledged for a while. I just say ‘thank you’. She looks at me in surprise and responds, ‘For what?’ Then I say, ‘Everything I forgot to say thank you for.’ Now, she is a mature lady, so she handles it calmly, but I know my message is sent. It is a tonic! An energy drink! And we have come a long way.

Does saying ‘thank you’ make you a weak person?  No, it does not. It is rather a strong leadership tool for motivation and affirmation. You have to win the hearts of your core team members – Your driver, your domestic staff, your department, your management team, your board, your Managing Director. This is completely different from staff remuneration. I once left a higher-paying job for a lesser-paying job where I felt I was better appreciated. Not everyone is so motivated by just material things. They want that personal touch. Thank you and appreciation has great healing powers.

I read recently the comments of a Liverpool player in the Premiership league, Mo Salah. He said he was enthused by the personality of his Coach, Jurgen Klopp. He made him feel appreciated when he gave him a big hug on their first meeting and appreciative words. If you know him well, he appears truly to be a bit shy, maybe timid. But his sterling performance is not in doubt. He only needed a coach like Jurgen to pull him out. That was the tonic! He could have also had a coach who would be all too bossy and too blameful. We have seen footballers frustrate such coaches out of their jobs.

Your crowd does not thin out if you know how to say ‘thank you and appreciate people. You are never really alone. It does not take away from you the professional man or woman in you. Some ‘senior’ men and women have found out disappointingly that they are suddenly alone after retirement or when they leave an organization for another. They are quickly forgotten, even by those they thought they did favors. Their structures are quickly pulled down, and they wonder at what point things go wrong. From cradle to grave, we all need love and appreciation.
Do not forget to say ‘thank you.

Visits: 8

Executive Intelligence

Executive Intelligence – Book Review

Author: Justin Menkes

“In today’s workplace, an individual cannot become a star executive without possessing a set of business ‘smarts’ called executive intelligence”. “Smart” in different contexts could be positively viewed as well as negatively viewed. In either case, there is a reference to uncommon wisdom in problem-solving or decision-making. These people have a solution-driven mindset.

To illustrate, a truck was jammed underneath a highway overpass. This was causing long traffic behind. A frustrated driver walked forward to check what was happening. After receiving an explanation of how difficult it had been trying to remove the truck, that “that the bridge was not high enough”. The driver looked at it and responded by saying that it seemed that “the truck was not low enough”. The policeman did not get it. The man repeated himself and explained further what he meant, that reducing the air out of the tyres to free the truck would do the trick. And it did – that was it! The traffic was soon cleared.

This executive intelligence must be demonstrated clearly in three different areas:
1. Accomplishment of tasks – a strong task sense and juggling of priorities efficiently within timelines, set goals, and vision. To have the capacity to clearly decipher distractions or unnecessary detailing if not needed.

    1. Working with and through other people – people are the problem, people are the solution! So says a phrase. This is a fact that good leaders must accept, use and understand deeply. These are soft skills, implying emotional intelligence – EQ, is different from intelligence quotient – IQ. Leadership is understanding basic human nature and developing an effective philosophy in handling different personalities individually and collectively. Ignoring building a happy and dependable team is a personal risk.
  1. Judging oneself and adapting one’s behaviour accordingly – continuous and sincere self-appraisal, Self-discovery, and self-management skills are things effective leaders do often. Good leaders self-evaluate frequently and very frequently want feedback on decisions made. He is smart enough not to assume he should always have the final word but always knows where he is going.

Executive intelligence thus does not consist of a single ability or isolated skill. Rather, it is a blend of critical aptitudes that guides an individual’s decision-making process and behavioral path. Thus, you may find many specialists not being good leaders of large teams – an engineer or a doctor may be very good on the job, but not in leadership. This has its roots in critical thinking. This is also different from abstract logic or reasoning, these wild thoughts or theorizing in the air – thoughts that cannot be domiciled. Some brilliant people are distracted by this kind of thinking – such thoughts are often too idealistic to be on the ground.

A good knowledge base is very good but not all that is needed. We have also seen some not-so-educated very successful in managing their businesses to unbelievable heights – INNOSON MOTORS is a critical example!

Visits: 4

Time Quadrant and Your Planning Habits

Many years back, I found myself in training which exposed me to the time quadrant. It was interesting because it was an assignment for us all in the training. Most persons in the test chose to be in the first quadrant, as it looked busier and more serious. I will not share the box I fell into. You may guess at the end of the write-up.

We make decisions daily. How we make and execute them affects us holistically. Let me describe the Time quadrant. As a quadrant, it has four boxes. At the top of each of the squared boxes are titled:
Box 1: Urgent and Important.
Box 2: Not Urgent but important.
Box 3: Urgent but not important.
Box 4: Not urgent and not important.

These depict our attitude toward work planning and the decisions we take. They are all outcomes of our decisions and habits
Box one, “Urgent and important”: depicts the effects of poor planning and discipline leading to unnecessary pressure to get beat deadlines. The person is perceived as being busy but complains a lot of no time, the result of procrastination till he is choked for time. He often understands important things but fails to plan ahead of time. At a glance, the first box looks like the most important of the boxes showing a busy person. Such ones are late performers and latecomers often, they have broken down cars for poor maintenance habits and other crises situations.

Box Two, “Not urgent but Important”: depicts a person with a leader’s mentality, a good planner, and acts well ahead of time, balancing all activities with good planning, so that he is always calm as he has things under control. He maintains good relationships, has time to relax, and has high-quality output. Some may misjudge such persons as persons without a plan because of their visible calmness when others are agitated.

Box Three, “Urgent but not important”: depicts a person who creates a semblance of activities, but has no clear targets and plans, responds to all interrupters, all visitors, and phone calls at all times, without clear goals for the day. He appears busy but a mere deception, doing the minimum but looking active, forming activities to fill space and probably to impress. This person has a poor sense of duty and prioritization. He cannot be a leader and would detract and de-energize a team.

Box Four, “Not Urgent and Not Important”: This person is a loafer, a slacker, and self-indulgent in most things, thus busy on unimportant things or time wasters like excessive computer games, time on the internet, and too much TV viewing. Productivity is near zero. This one cannot deliver. He cannot lead any team; he would rather be a great distraction.

Do you connect with any of these? Some of us really get but at what? And probably achieving less than our peers. This would depend on our planning habits and forethought mentality. This reinforces the 80/20 rule of time management, where approximately 20 percent of our efforts produce 80 percent of the results with good forethought and planning. You cede out the less productive tasks for higher productivity and delegate responsibly.

Visits: 8

Building Workable and Sustainable Strategies and Niches – Why many Fail?

Strategies are statements of intent – a journey of purpose and how to get there, successfully anticipating obstacles and avoiding them. This is whether corporate or personal – yes, personal. Some just think strategies are only corporate. We all need one. Strategies were “once defined as the art of planning and directing large military movements and operations of war”.

Strategies often are long-term projects needing clarity of purpose and a well-defined map to success. This requires good thinking and strategic minds. Some minds are better at this if allowed to flourish in your organization. Some organizations suppress such minds as too excited or cerebral. A leader’s job is to identify such minds or potentially so and nature them. A study reveals that it is difficult to get ten percent of such ones in an organization. It does not have to be the CEO or top Management – it may just be a smart ICT staff or any line staff somewhere, that could be key to a major change.

Research units of a system are critical. Some organizations, sadly do not deem it fit to have one. If available, funding the unit is seen as a mere cost Centre. In Nigeria, when you get thrown into a research department, it is meant to be ‘punishment’, or a place to silence you. This is sad, as these are quantum opportunities missed to create niches and strategic values that could reposition the organization. Data analysis, demographics, technologies, cultures, etc., have hidden identifiable opportunities to carve a niche or reposition market share.

The ability to differentiate short-term and long-term thinking, and striking a balance are an integral part of strategies and this differentiates true leaders. This is the unison between vision and mission. Vision is the end destination and mission defines the vehicle and pathways, or a delicate blend between long and short goals to arrive at the destination point. Some leaders, and organizations allow short-term goals or achievements to consume the energies required for long-term strategies and objectives.

Many strategies fail because they were not strategies in the first place; they are just intentions. Defined paths are unclear, and responsibilities are hazy. Thus, the need for a timetable and a time-keeper cannot be over-emphasized. Defined action lines, responsible officers, delivery timelines, monitoring and control, and the entire project Manager responsible for reporting progress and challenges must be put in place. The SMART acronym must apply here – must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Frequent updates on successes and deviations are critical to successful implementation. It is good to acknowledge mileage covered, but suspend celebrations until the destination is achieved. It is a continuous iterative process until goals and objectives are achieved.

Key people involvement is imperative. And, involving them early is equally very important. This is not a situation of favouritism. Choosing only those who can deliver into critical positions is essential. They need to ‘mentally own’ the projects and be passionate about them to deliver on determined mileages. A known track record of delivery should help.

Further, investing in the capabilities is extremely vital. The human resources required do not only need to be acquired but maintained and sustained. An internal knowledge sharing and domiciliation system and infrastructure are good for the sustenance of drive. A good succession plan should be installed over time. Watching out for competition and market developments are very key to successful implementation.

The original objectives must be determined by value, not sentiments or personal preferences driven by executive powers or cliques in the system. Values must be based on end-user satisfaction. value creation for a clear differentiation should drive strategic objectives. Thus, adequate research and data gathering and analysis, implementation, and monitoring discipline are critical for good results and sustainability.

Visits: 2

Response-ability and Responsibility – How do They Matter?

Have you found yourself admiring a friend, workmate, or senior officer at the office who exudes relative and unusual confidence and calmness, in response to challenging situations? This comes with response-ability. This is different from being responsible. The similarity between the two words may be a bit confusing. publication of 19th February 2017 defines “Response-ability as ‘grounded-ness, mindfulness, ability to consciously and deliberately choose our responses with intention and care”. I found the definition to be deliberate with the choice of words – grounded-ness, mindfulness, ability to deliberately make choices and decisions with relative ease. As leaders, this is critical. This does not come by accident or sheer desire to be so.

How does Response-ability differ from being responsible?

Our knowledge, capacity for analysis, and self-assurance based on facts, knowledge, and cognate experience minimize error rates and guesswork, enhancing our response-ability. In life, it is driven by knowledge and understanding, experience and good advanced thinking habit, or a working mind.

There is generally a small distribution of such ‘cool-headed’ persons around us. Some are gifted by nature as you may find such brilliance in certain sports or fields by certain individuals. In other real-life’s situations, such persons have the edge of the ability to respond almost without thinking things too deeply but perfectly in response and appropriateness. However, we cannot wait for nature’s distribution alone in this matter.

The concept of Response-ability was brought about by John Cage, 1957, a modernist composer. He tried to shift emphasis from strict accountability to aesthetics of engagement.

Irresponsibility is not necessarily ‘recklessness or selfishness’, but the inability to respond to a given life situation is a firm, decisive and positive way. Being able to use all self-control, skill, and knowledge, especially in challenging situations. Thus Leadership is not ability, but a strong sense of responsibility combined with response-ability. This includes leadership at all levels – from the family, the basic of all institutions, to large corporate bodies, or governance in general.

Where do Response-ability and responsibility thus connect?

For clarity and function purpose, they are differentiated. In reality, they work hand-in-hand. One may have a sense of duty but lack the response-ability, he may thus look irresponsible. Response-ability thus drives home value of capacity. We have a critical need for mental capacity. This is fuelled by knowledge quest, skill acquisition, and continuous development. Knowledge is a continuum. Capacity development is a never-ending circle. Staying updated enhances our response-ability.

Many people are stuck for the lack of self-development and indeed fail to realize the reasons why they are hurting.  A self-development plan need not be a crazy, radical plan, but a steady quest for knowledge for updates, and simple certifications. This stimulates thinking and the mind’s capacity.

Capacity for deductive reasoning, decisiveness, steadiness, candour, and transparency can be developed for great leadership, without resorting to shortcuts and circumvention of situations. Decisions will be well-informed and consistent over time, standing the test of wind and storm.
The perception of transparency and capacity leads to high ratings and leadership loyalty!


Visits: 2

Earth Movement in the Pension Industry

It is eighteen years since the Pension industry was carved out of the Insurance industry and government direct management. The new Act of 2004 began a new journey for one of the fastest-growing industries, making it the cynosure of all eyes – friends or enemies of the industry. The purpose and intent of the Act were to arrest various abuses of not only the pension funds by certain cartels and individuals but as well address the gross disrespect and abuse of the aged and retired individuals who had served the country for the best part of their mental and physical energies. This group of citizens, who were now weak needed to be rewarded with restful retirement. Especially disturbing was the public sector management of workers’ pensions.

The new industry thus needed to be nurtured to be strong, viable, dependable, and effective. Even though novel, the signs have been strong. It has removed the unsightly views of queueing up of senior citizens in inefficient lines for frequent verifications. Moving them from long distances even when they were too frail to be moved around, just to protect their pensions.

Recently, the indefatigable Pension Regulator, PenCom, led by Aisha Dahir-Umar and her team, moved to ensure a stronger base for Pension Fund Administrators to enhance efficiency, and effectiveness and to address other concerns of its core clients – the Nigerian populace. This was to encourage consolidation between the players where there were individual weaknesses observed. The capital for running was thus put at unencumbered N5 billion, with a deadline date of 27th of April. This saw a flurry of activities and underground movements to beat the date. All the PFAs did successfully.

These weaknesses may range from weaknesses in the distribution network of some of the companies in market outreach, adequate working capital to fund needed robust fintech infrastructure, strengths in the public or private sectors, a rejig of certain boards for better corporate governance, a rebalancing of market shares and strengths to reduce the previously heavily skewed market shares in favour of the top five to ten Fund Administrators.
Thus, we have seen some earth movement in the industry. Newer interests are courting the pension industry – the banks and some private investors, have moved in with some more energy. This is evidence that the industry is thriving and winning the confidence of the many.

The likes of Tangerine group, Norrenberger group, GT holdings, repositioning of Access bank in the industry and the consolidation of First Pensions custodian and Access custodian in the offing, and acquisition of FCMB of Aiico Pensions are examples of movements for a stronger performing industry.

The dichotomy of the company funds and the pension contributions fund has allowed for greater sanity in the operations of the industry. Gradually, the novel idea is becoming a great idea. We must thus avoid the great disservice done to the insurance industry and the Nigerian populace by decimating the insurance industry’s strength and services by splintering it. The clamours for creating further splinters in the industry, instead of consolidations could reduce its strengths and a return to the past for some other personal interests.

This happened when the government took away workmen’s compensation insurance from the insurance industry and gave it to a government organ – NSITF who were strangers in that field. The recent filters and seeming inactivity from it is of grave concern for Nigerian workers. This raises concerns as well for other possible social services the NSITF could render to Nigerians, like unemployment allowances or other comforts as obtained in European countries and other social services innovations from the huge but silent funds accruing to the organ.

This also happened in the health insurance sector. While the NHIS initiative was good, its present predicaments question the place of government as a player instead of remaining as an umpire. Strengthening the industries is better than the government being a player, as we find in the Pension industry.

Visits: 3

Do You Know the services of The NSITF to You?

The irony of settlement of insurance claims, is that the recipients of insurance claims cheques walk away quietly unannounced. This is due to respect for the customer’s privacy, unless the customer is magnanimous to allow some publicity, may be in a celebrated case. In 2021 alone, NAICOM disclosed that the insurance industry paid N238 Billion out as claims. Thus billions are paid out annually in settlement of claims in Nigeria. Yet, what you often hear and ‘loaded’ are individual stories of unsettled claims. Why may an insurance company decline to settle insurance claims at certain times? Does insurance really work in Nigeria? Apart from people who already know you and your personality, many others have a problem of trust with insurance professionals. So, insurance professionals are constantly vilified by individuals and the press.

However, it is also true that every profession owes the duty of high degree of duty of care and responsibility to whatever it holds out itself to the public as a professional. Insurance has come a long way over the years. We now have full-fledged professionals with strong fiduciary responsibilities to our clients and guided by strong regulations. Insurance is a global concept of invisible security at the heart of all critical business activities. International businesses like air travel, freighting, international trades, shipping across the globe, bank loans and the like would be near impossible without guarantees and assurances of insurance. So, it would be wrong to look at insurance with the eye of the local salesman or agent trying to win you for a cover. Insurance is respected globally.

Like all contracts, there is a continuing contractual obligation for all parties to a contract – conditions and warranties. Transparency of mutual contractual obligations has continued to be an essential part of all pecuniary contracts over the years in normal commercial contracts, as well as insurance contracts. A warranty breach, in insurance, goes to the root of the contract. The presenter of a risk for insurance knows everything about the risk more than the insurance company – the client is thus expected to establish clearly his relationship with the subject matter of insurance. The Insurance company is also expected not to have hidden clauses in tiny letters to avoid claims payment.

Insurance is built on six core principles. One of them in called the Insurable Interest. This principle seeks to establish that your relationship with the subject matter of insurance is not frivolous but firm and possibly legally recognized, so much so that you would be prejudiced by its demise or the destruction of the subject matter of Insurance, or continue to benefit from the existence of the subject matter of insurance.

This developed out of the need to distinguish insurance from gambling and speculation. This is to also avoid fraudulent situations or schemes arising. Thus, apart from the direct family of the president, no one had the recognizable right to take life insurance on the life of the president. This is even though no one wants a dead president.

There are however situations like what is called keyman insurance – this is possible only as far it relates to the importance and financial and implication of the keyman’s absence and project relevance. Thus also, no one can take a life insurance on the life of a girlfriend or boyfriend. These are not recognized relationships at law. No one can take insurance on the property of another person without firmly establishing proof of ownership and legal relationship.

So, when an insurance contract is found to have been entered in error because of breach of this principle, it could invalidate the contract from the point of law ab initio and thus affect a claim.

However, some contractual relationships may establish liabilities that may enable people or organizations with indirect relationships take on certain insurances. Thus, a loan from a bank may establish the need for a fire insurance on a building serving as collateral with a ‘lien clause’ in favour of the bank. An insurable interest is thus established. In simple terms, this is one way this principle of Insurable Interest protects the sanctity of practice of insurance against gambling and speculation, other vices or fraudulent intentions.

Visits: 4

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