Adekunle Adebiyi is a man transformed. He says that the High Performance Leadership program that he followed at IMD in 2014 changed his way of thinking, which in turn, changed many things in his life.
As General Manager of Regional Operations for the Nigerian branch of MTN, Africa's leading cellular telecommunications company, he leads teams that are evaluated on deliverables. Before IMD, he would wait for end of year appraisals before challenging an employee’s poor performance, by which time, he observed, “It is often too late”.
Can I have a minute?
Now he takes that person aside and says: “Can I have a minute? Let’s have a discussion”. By stating clearly on a one to one basis how that person can improve, he or she doesn’t feel judged.
“You must be able to say things, not keep quiet.”
The important thing, he discovered, is to speak constructively and stick to the issue. “That way I liberate myself and my team members from hostage situations that may impact our deliverables.”
He develops the idea further and says that at IMD he learned to not be hostage to his own thinking. Too many issues get in the way of making progress and enjoying life, he explains.
The phenomenal example of bravery of IMD conference invitee Jamie Andrew, the quadruple amputee who still climbs mountains, was a mind changing experience for Adekunle. “Whatever happens to you, you must be able to regain a joy of life and move on,” he reflects, admitting how difficult it had been for him to recover from the loss of a brother in an accident in 2008.
“Now, I ask myself, what do I remember from him, and that makes me happy. I used to keep to myself, even with my siblings, but now I say: ‘Hey, let’s enjoy the moment!’”.
Working as a team
In his experience, IMD has also made him a more approachable leader. “I believe that to get people to work as a team is very important,” he says. “If some colleagues have issues, invite them to put them on the table. We often don’t know what they are going through.”
He takes very seriously his responsibility to bring people together so that they can respond in a united way to particular situations and felt rewarded when he read a comment by one of his team members that said that by learning to work better together, they were able to get the bigger picture.
The IMD on-line program in Strategic Thinking, in which Adekunle is currently engaged, is not yet over, but he is already confident that the tools he is acquiring will reinforce the skills that will allow him to lead from the front.
“I need to get up and define strategies over time, and not just on an ad hoc basis. By choosing to complete the HPL program with Strategic Thinking, I wanted an end to end process. I wanted a strategy that works.”
He then adds: “It’s been extremely revealing, if only because I have learned to listen”.
Adekunle had been in the telecommunication industry ever since leaving university, but he was still on a crusade to improve his leadership skills.
“As a leader, I wanted to perform better. I chose IMD out of many options, because the HPL program really jumped out.”
“Now, I have made many friends, especially in Brazil and Oman.”
“The important thing I have learned is the need to free ourselves from hostage situations. IMD has changed my way of thinking.”
High Performance Leadership (HPL) is for experienced executives who want to achieve the next level of effectiveness in leading individuals, teams and large groups to their highest level of sustained performance.