LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM TAJUDEEN AKANDE, PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS CLUB IKEJA

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Chief Tajudeen Adegboyega Akande, President of Business Club Ikeja is a Chartered Accountant, Tax Practitioner, Financial Analyst, Insolvency Practitioner and Forensic Audit Expert. Besides stellar academic credentials spanning University of Benin, Lagos Business School, University of Leicester and Harvard Business School, Akande is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA); Fellow, Chartered Taxation Institute of Nigeria (FCTI); Fellow, Institute of Directors (F.loD) and Associate of the Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners (ABR).
He started his career with Messrs Akintola Williams & Co (Now Deloitte) in 1988 and is currently the Managing Partner of PKF Professional Services.
He served as President, Lagos Country Club Ikeja, between 2017 and 2020 and is an active member of Ikoyi Club 1938, and The Metropolitan Club Lagos.


We see your impact in different spheres of life in Nigeria, what are the things that inspire you?
Well, thank you. The very first thing is wherever you find yourself, you have to leave a foot print, otherwise it’s as good as if you have not been there. Right? No matter what, wherever, in the house, in the family, work, the society, humans play a role, whatever that role is, take on some responsibility, so that the day you are not there, they would notice that somebody is not there, that’s the driving force. Just take responsibility.
You were Past President of Lagos Country Club, current President of Business Club Ikeja, Fellow of ICAN, where you recently received a distinguished award; Chairman of the Board of PKF West Africa; a renowned Public Analyst on the Economy.

With your hands in so many pies and your remarkable management of human and material resources, how do you strike a balance?

Okay, yes, I know that’s valid, because you are just one person like everyone else. So you have 24 hours in a day and you have family, you have career to get involved with. So how do you manage all these things? Everywhere you find yourself, like I said, whatever role you are playing, you have to define your goal. What do you want to achieve? And you do a self-examination, critique yourself, what are your strengths, weaknesses? So you now find a way to deploy your strengths to achieve your goal, which will make you to be able to allocate your time. There are people who are efficient in the day than night. That’s why you see some children read in the day. Some will just be playing in the day. I read at night, the guy who is not efficient at night, who copied the man who is playing in the afternoon, will just fail. So it’s the same way.
I look at myself, my health condition, different things that I have to do. And I see how many, how much time do I have and try to allocate here and there. Time is a major constraint. Like I said, there’s only 24 hours in a day, you must also sleep. So, how many hours you have, there’s also a limit to which you can flog your body. So, to that extent, you have a whole list of to-do, you have this limited time. You also have to try to prioritize. So in those different roles, what do I want to do for Lagos Country Club? What do I want to do for Business Club Ikeja? I’m Chairman of my Alumni Association. So, you say okay, which ones come first, which ones do I do in half today and half tomorrow? So in a nutshell it’s about having a defined objective. Allocate time, prioritise your key roles.
Recognise you can’t achieve a 100% of your goals but do your best to achieve everything. By the time your system begins to feel the impact of flogging, respect yourself and just let go. Do your best and leave the rest.

What have been your greatest challenges and how have you been handling them?
Challenges, you find out that you can’t even actually achieve all you want to achieve, and that’s a challenge? Beyond that, you need to work with people, there is nobody who can deliver everything himself. Okay, I have colleagues. I have different people, I have a secretary, I have a PA, I have a driver. The most complicated is to work with your human resources. So, the best thing in my own view, is to recognize the fact that people are different, the fact that of all the things that God created, man is the most comprehensive. Allow some latitude for individual differences, so that even when they’re not moving at your own speed or having the same view as you, you are still able to accommodate them and you are not disappointed. So, dealing with too much pain is a major challenge.
You also need skill for interpersonal relationship like everything that has to do with achievement. We need money, finance is a major constraint, I mean, if I have my way, I want to build something that looks like Dubai. I want to create an entity that will be top 10 in the world. So, I know what to do, I have an idea but the money is not there. So, as people said, if your head is willing and your pocket is not swelling, you will just remain a tree. So, time is a constraint, and people and finance always go together.


You are a very busy chief executive, how do you unwind?
Well, to unwind is why I joined social clubs, recreation clubs. Because I recognize that if you just work, the day you drop dead, life goes on. People will only grief for a limited period of time.
I was with a friend recently as we had barbecue and talked about someone who just passed on. A lawyer friend was asking the children about timing and all that, and the color of the burial and the response from one of them was, it depends on what is in the will. We were all like seriously? It’s better we enjoy what we can enjoy while we are alive. Because when you drop dead, your children and other people will look for what they will benefit. People will be contesting what is in the will: You give one child a house in GRA Ikeja, you give another a house in Ilupeju; the GRA house is better than Ilupeju. Even if you give a flat here, and a whole duplex there, there will always be controversies. So for that reason, I deliberately try to create time to unwind. If the work is so much you just have to shut down at some point and go enjoy yourself.


What sport do you do and why the preference?
I swim because I hear that swimming is one sport that exercises virtually all the muscles of the body. I try to play Table Tennis because I also know that the game is fast and it requires serious coordination, eye and hand movement which can positively affect your ability to coordinate, to synchronize seeing the ball very fast. I also do aerobics of course. Because to get into the water sometimes, to play table tennis, you’d need a partner but for aerobics, you can decide to jump on the treadmill and just do some walking. I think those are the ones that I can say I do. Plus, of course clapping, being the cheerleader of the supporters club.


You are an advocate of team work. How did this apply in your leadership roles?
Well, I am leader of a team. It’s teamwork, you know, no one person can achieve everything you want, whatever you want. If your team is not in sync with you, you will not achieve anything, they will frustrate you. The BCI management is a formidable team. Same applied when I was President of Lagos Country Club. The team then was made up of the management council and we were 19 in the Management Council, meaning it’s a mini National Assembly. The people in my team represented different interests as a sports secretary, social secretary, general secretary, the welfare officer to the members. Then, you have chairmen of the different sporting sections, which is like having the Federal Government, the chairmen of sections being governors of states. And those secretaries like ministers, so you’re sharing a council of state, you need their buy in. Because for every decision, you need to get council approval. And it’s only a majority that will get your request approved. If you do anything without carrying them along and getting approval, no matter how good it is, you will shoot yourself in the foot, because you will be accused of unilateral decision, embezzlement, all sorts of story you can get.
So it’s teamwork. It’s about having a vision, articulating that vision, selling it to the team, and luckily getting the support of majority of the team. I can only claim the credit on behalf of all of us. The team also needs the extended family members, including team members. If you’re doing something that you don’t want criticized, it will get pulled out. So it’s important relating with people, getting to have a feel of what they really want. Sharing your own idea, finding a way to get feedback whether it will fly or not really helps. So getting the people behind you is also a key factor for success. You’re a leader of people. You are not to impose your own idea.
You ran Lagos Country Club for three years during which you made tremendous achievements; you changed the phase and service orientation of the club which gave you the name transformational leader.

Can you describe your leadership style?
There are different leadership styles or leadership principles and conditions, with each having its own pros and cons. You may be substantially within one school of thought but you will be confronted with a situation where that may not be the best way. I am a student of this leadership school of the former American President Abraham Lincoln who presided over the American Civil War. Number one, an effective leader has to build consensus which is one of the things I have spoken about. Rather than impose your will or opinions, you must try to build consensus. And effectively, you must also know when to put your foot down. You must be firm, in the sense that there are times you have to be dictatorial. This is because sometimes, the majority may not be acting right, they may be acting on emotions. So when we need to be firm, you need to be firm, but not always because most of the time you need to build consensus.
I also do more of listening, and talking only once. That way you are able to get people’s opinions. And eventually when you take decisions, the people are part of it. If a decision doesn’t fall within their expectations, at least they will know that with what they said, they have contributed to that decision. So we can say I am more of a democratic leader, laissez-faire. They call it the 9 C’s of leadership: a good leader must have compassion, conviction. Anything you want to do there must be that conviction. Competence, aside the case of just looking for glamour of office, you need to know and have good experience and exposure. You know how to handle and take people along. Without all these things you can’t be an effective leader. I follow those principles.


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