Tony Elumelu Shares Nuggets On His Leadership Journey

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Tony Elumelu
Tony Elumelu, chairman, UBA Group

On Thursday, foremost entrepreneur and chairman, UBA Group, Tony Elumelu took to his Instagram handle to share some lessons he has learnt in his career when he started selling photocopying machine till he assumed the leadership role at UBA and later founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation. Below is the text he shared on Instagram:

“I travel the world sharing nuggets about my leadership journey, but yesterday was a rare experience where I shared with my work family – staff at @Ubagroup across all 19 countries in #Africa, NY, Paris and London and across @Heirsholdings Group – my whole story from my first job selling Rico copier machines to where I stand now as the Chairman of several listed and unlisted companies and fulfilling my philanthropic aspirations through the @TonyElumeluFoundation.

For the whole story, you will have to read my book when it comes out, but some of the points I shared are worth sharing with you on this platform.

First of all, know that everyone is a leader and that leadership is a journey which occurs at every level. I mentioned that I started my career selling photocopy machines. I learned something key from this and that is that you must know your product in order to be able to sell it. We used to take the machines apart and put them back together and so we knew them inside out and of course that translated into our sales success. This applies to every job, you must be knowledgeable about your product so you can sell it properly. No knowledge gained is lost.

Secondly, things are only impossible if you believe them to be so. Impossibility must never originate with you, always have an open mind, be relentless and apply energy & tenacity and I can assure you that you are more than likely to succeed. When I applied to my first banking job after university, I was not qualified. But in my cover letter I wrote that if I was given the opportunity, I would do well. The rest is history. At a time as a branch manager at AllStates Bank, my performance was better than the next 34 branches combined. There’s also a lesson here for leaders – don’t be too detached. If my application wasn’t reviewed, I would not have got that job.

Thirdly, with great responsibility must also come great humility. Leadership means that you are first among equals so you must not lord it over others. You must be humble to succeed. Good leaders listen and if you want to be an even better leader you must listen even more. As a leader, you must protect the corporate above yourself.”