Achieving your Financial Goals

Financial Goals are the priorities and targets you set for how you want to spend and save your money.

Some financial goals you might set as an individual include saving to buy a home or pay for rent, go on vacation, start a business, pay off debt, etc. When setting a financial goal, you must determine the length of time it’s going to take to reach your goal.

It can also be said that it is not a person’s ability to save that encourages him/her to save money, but the willingness to save forces him/her to do so.

For you to achieve your financial goals, you need to take proactive measures. Here are some steps to follow in achieving your financial goals:

  1. Write out your goals: Writing out your financial goals is the first step to take in achieving them. Because if you don’t write them, you won’t do or see them with your eyes.
  2. Track Expenses: Monitoring your expenses is key to achieving your financial goals. Do well to track your expenses daily, weekly or monthly. You can use expense mobile apps to do this and be determined to doing this diligently. Tracking your expenses is very helpful as it helps you to cut down on some unwanted expenses and in turn boost your saving rate.
  3. Follow a solid plan: Sometimes, you might be overwhelmed barely looking at a list of your financial goals. This is where creating a solid plan comes in. This helps you to know where you need to start from, decide the next thing to do. Know your money weaknesses and set out a plan to avoid or overcome them. Also, know your money strengths and build on them.
  4. Create accountability: Setting and reaching financial is not an easy task, hence the need to have somebody you can always trust to talk through your goals. Because along the way, you will need words of encouragement and some reality checks. He or She will check in on your progress and applaud you. What having accountability does is that, it allows you not to leave your dreams on your shoulders but also allows you pick someone to help you carry the load.
  5. Re-evaluate your goals: Change as they say is constant. It’s okay to have a change in your goals but don’t abandon them. Reevaluate your financial goals monthly, quarterly or every six months so they fit where you are and where you are going.

Getting Quick Loans are a sure way of achieving your financial goals. At Credit Direct Limited, we offer low interest emergency loans without collaterals or guarantors. You can apply on

Differences between Saving and Investing

Saving and Investing sometimes are used interchangeably but there are differences.

Saving refers to putting money aside for future use rather than spending it immediately thus involving low risk and low returns while Investingrefers to putting money into financial schemes, shares, property, or a commercial venture with the expectation of achieving a profit.

Below are the differences between Saving and Investing


You could be saving towards getting a new house, paying house rent, buying a car or for any financial emergencies, etc. Financial institutions offer several different savings options. We also have some savings mobile apps that you can use to automate your savings whether daily, weekly or monthly. The higher the income of a person, the higher is his capacity to save. We can also say that it is not a person’s ability to save that encourages him or her to save money, but the willingness to save compels him or her to do so.

On the other hand, you can invest your money in stocks, property, real estate, shares in a mutual fund etc. Investments are usually done to achieve long-term goals. Hence, it is categorized as income investment or growth investment.

The purpose of saving is to fulfill short-term or urgent requirements while investingis done to provide returns and help in capital formation.


The risk associated with investing is very high while saving is low or negligible


Returns are comparatively high for investing while there is less or no returns for saving


Liquidity is high in savings because you can have access to your money anytime, but in the case of investment, you cannot have easy access to money because the process of selling the investments takes some time, hence, less liquidity.

PS: Making a choice between either saving or investing will depend on your goal(s) for the money and your risk tolerance.

Personal Finance – Why it is important

Personal Finance is defined as the management of money and financial decisions for a person or family including budgeting, income generation, investing, spending, saving, retirement planning and investments.

We will be focusing on explaining the most important areas of personal finance. The most important areas are;

  1. Budgeting: This is a process of creating a plan to spend your money. Budgeting ensures that you have enough cash for the things that are important to you and the things that you need.

Having a budget and following it will keep you out of debt. And if you are in debt already, this will help you work your way out of it. The good thing about budgeting is, when you know where your money is going, you can crush your money goals faster.

  • Income: This is the money that an individual or business receives in exchange for providing a good or service or through investing capital.

It is the starting point for our financial planning process and there are several sources of income that generate cash that individuals or businesses can use to either save, invest, or spend. Some of which are; salaries, wages, pensions, bonuses, dividends.

  • Investing: In finance, an investment is a monetary asset purchased with the idea that the asset will provide income in the future or will later be sold at a higher price for a profit. Though investing carries risk but having the mind to invest makes you stay ahead of inflation, helps you build wealth etc.
  • Spending: This is the money that is used for a particular purpose. You either by cash or by credit. Managing expenses is just as important as generating income. If expenses are greater than income, then an individual has a deficit. Good spending habits are critical for good personal finance management.
  • Savings: This refers to the money put aside for future use rather spending it immediately. Managing savings is a critical area of personal finance. If there is a surplus between what a person earns as income and what they spend, the difference can be directed towards savings or investments. Savings helps you in emergencies, limits debts, gives you financial freedom, etc.

Good financial management comes down to having a solid plan and sticking to it

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Top 5 Reasons to Apply For A Personal Loan

What is a Personal Loan? A personal loan is a type of unsecured loan issued by an individual, organization or other entities to a borrower (an individual or organization) and the borrower is liable to pay interest. This loan is paid back in monthly instalments over a period.

Taking out a loan is greatly beneficial when used and paid back correctly. Here are some top reasons to apply and secure a personal loan:

1. Consolidate Debt: Debt Consolidation entails taking out a loan to pay off others. When you apply for a loan and use it for debt consolidation, you’re combining all of those outstanding balances into one monthly payment. This grouping of debt makes it easier to work out a timeframe to pay off your balances without getting overwhelmed.

2. Unplanned emergency expenses: Emergencies are inevitable. When they happen, there is always a need to sort out some bills. Be it funeral expenses, medical expenses, etc. Consider applying and securing a personal in this case.

3. Alternative to a payday loan: A payday loan is a relatively small amount of money lent at a high rate of interest on the agreement that it will be repaid when the borrower receives their next salaries.

It could be so tempting to take out a payday loan when facing financial hardships. A payday loan is most times easier to get but carries extreme risks when you’re unable to pay back the amount of money owed in the time agreed upon and also comes with a high interest rate.

So, before you make up your mind completely to secure a payday loan, consider a personal loan instead.

4. Making a large purchase: If you don’t want to deplete your savings account, consider a personal loan. You can’t wait get your dream car, your wedding day is fast approaching, you need to pay for your children’s school fees or you plan to go on a travel vacation? A personal loan will take care of these.

5. Start or Boost a Business: To start a business, you need a capital, hence, a personal loan should be considered. And if you have a business running already but would like to boost it by buying more products, running promotions, etc., consider taking out a personal loan.

Note:A personal loan can used for anything and it is not limited to the points. For whichever reason you apply and secure a personal loan to do, always utilize this financial resource responsibly.

Achieving Financial Independence

Imagine you having the capability to do whatever you want without having to worry about money. Exciting, yeah? That’s Financial Independence! Before you can embark on this journey to achieving financial independence, you need to take care of the basics like paying off your debts etc. After that is taking care of, below are some of the ways you can achieve financial independence.

  1. Starting a Business: As we all know, starting a business is not easy as there is not guarantee that it will be successful. It is a risk and we have no choice than to attempt starting one. You must be very sure whether you’re ready to either quit your 8-5 job for your new business or make it a side business. Starting and building a business is one difficult way to achieve financial independence but when the business booms, the payoff is usually huge.
  2. Monetizing your skills: Another way to achieving financial independence is by turning your skills into usable products. This is a good way for creative people to monetize their skills or talents. Are you a writer, designer, comedian, you can always put your skills or talents to good use by letting people pay to learn from you or brands pay to advertise their products on your platform?
  3. Living an economical lifestyle: This is probably the easiest way to achieving financial independence. How do you live an economical lifestyle? Does it mean you have to be cheap? Living an economical lifestyle is simply tracking and controlling your monthly expenses. It also means you need to save and invest. Many of us have no idea how much we spend every month and it would be shocking to know. Track your monthly expenses, avoid letting your expenses creep up along with your increasing income.

Make financial independence your goal and start working towards it.

Speaking the Language of Success: How we created a world class brand at Credit Direct

Speaking The Language of Success: How We Created A World Class Brand At Credit Direct Limited

In my opinion, French is arguably the most sensual language in history. The sheer finesse in the pronunciation of each word in the French language is amazing, the feel is exceptional and its very exciting to watch people speak it so fluently. The French accent is so distinct that it is not difficult to identify a Frenchman or woman when they speak. The exciting command and thought-provoking usage makes you just want to understand and learn how to speak French. The language is so versatile that its diction and words are borrowed by so many other languages. While French language appeals to the senses, it also comes with a powerful undertone that pulls you to any conversation when you hear it. In addition to all these qualities, the French language is also simple to learn and master. French language is among the most acceptable and most spoken language in the world. The French brand communicates confidence and an aura that inspires a lengthier conversation or relationship.


Credit Direct Limited, over the years can be said to have positioned herself as the French of the Consumer finance lending industry. We have brought out the best of the industry, setting the tone for new entrants and making the space very competitive. We created an industry that has over time served a lot of people who never believed it was possible to get prompt services and solve customers’ financial problems so rapidly and with the speed of light.

Our Language – “Sharp! Sharp!!” is simple, easy to remember and clearly understood by all our customers. When we first started, we gave the promise of getting loans within 24 hours when it sounded very unrealistic to a lot of people, but the doubts only made us more determined to succeed in this noble business journey. This we believe is one of the major strength of our business, the fact that we keep our word, we gave a promise and till date its remains our bond.

Our Simplicity – “No Collateral, No Guarantor, No Account opening, No pre-liquidation charges”. These are core promises we communicated to our customers. Although a lot of people thought it was impossible to lend on these terms, and we have proved that simple lending terms will always fare better than complex and strict lending terms. We introduced a different and simple approach to lending and today, it has become the gold standard in the alternative lending industry.

Our Undertone – “Speedy Funds, Convenient and Transparent” is direct and true to its promises. While the catchy phrase is being used loosely in financial parlance in recent times, many companies unfairly bury their additional charges when selling a loan to their customers. At Credit Direct, loans are delivered without any form of “Hidden Charges” which has endeared customers to us over time. We do not see customers as opportunities to exploit rather we see our customers as individuals to partner on a long and mutually beneficial financial journey by providing fast and reliable financial services at a fully disclosed fee.

Our Precision and Perfection in Service Delivery

All these “French” qualities in Credit Direct are the little things that sets us apart from our competitors. This differentiation can only continue to exist through precision and perfection in our individual and overall service delivery to our valued customers. Precision and perfection can only be achieved through innovative works directed at improving customer experience and satisfaction. An efficient lending platform, best in class talents with local and international experience, efficient and effective customer service, top of the range customer experience and above all a world class work environment. The average Credit Direct Staff takes each task with total dedication and focus to ensure the output is exceptional, little wonder how we have badged many awards including the Most Innovative Consumer Finance Lending Company of the year 2018 by Business Day and the Best Social Impact Finance Partner Nigeria 2019 by Capital Finance International. Awards befitting of a pace setter.

Ways we ensure we keep up the “French” in us at Credit Direct.

  1. The First step is employees’ sense of belonging to the company. Each staff possesses a deep sense of ownership and understanding of the business and of their responsibility. We have an “employee-owner” mindset, so we approach every task knowing we are working for individual and collective goals. This mindset helps us achieve more with less.
  2. Next step is handling issues/ Challenges professionally. Now this is our strongest point. Because we are in a service industry, we are aware that a lot of times there would be issues and challenges from customers and are therefore prepared to handle them with courtesy and strong promise of resolution. Where the promise has elapsed, we are on hand to ensure the issue is resolved, nonetheless. Our customers are our Kings, so we as Kingmakers ensure to treat our Kings nicely.
  3. Imbibing the Credit Direct culture. An average Credit Direct Staff is energetic, passionate, Caring, Trusting, Innovative, and a Team player.
  4. We perform our duties diligently- it is said that “a task done well 100 times becomes a habit” and habits requires little brain to execute. Efficiency and diligence have become our habit, and this helps us achieve a lot in terms of productivity.
  5. The fifth step is self- improvement- when you are happy with yourself, you are more productive at work and in your personal life, we create a robust work life balance for our staff with a top of the range relaxation lounge in the building and a complete gym for staff after work hours. We have built a team of healthy workforce that are ready and eager to do more anytime when called upon.


We are passionate about our customers, so we ensure to do the following

Complete disclosure to customers – When it comes to customers, there is no such thing as over-communication for us, we thrive on giving our customers the most up to date information on their loans and investments, with this, we keep them fully abreast of what is going on, what is new and what would soon change.  The amount of communication is not so imperative as the timeliness, its context, and its ability to clearly identify the value addition to the client. In a world of constant connectivity, your ability to cut through the flood of subpar information with quality and timely answers goes a long way.

Foster Service Culture – built on elements of leadership principles, norms, good work ethics, vision, mission and values. Culture is the set of overriding principles according to which management controls, maintains and develops the social process that manifests itself as delivery of service and gives value to customers. Once a superior service delivery system and a realistic service concept have been established, there is no other component so fundamental to the long-term success of a service organization as its culture.

Ensuring Service Quality– These includes strategies, processes and performance management systems. The strategy and process design are fundamental to the design of the overall service management model. Helping our customers meet their needs and supporting them in the pursuit of their overall Peace of Mind, is the foundation on which we thrive.

Customer Experience includes elements of customer intelligence, account management and continuous improvements. Perception is king and constantly evaluating how both customer and end-user perceive service delivery is important for our continuous collaboration. Successful service delivery works on the basis that our customers are a part of the creation and delivery of the service. This we ensure to do to keep our customer special.

Always remember that premium, precise and perfect service delivery is what a customer needs to stay with you, always give your best  and success will be at hand.

Joseph Osodi, writes in from the desk of the Head of Brand Marketing and Communications.

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Credit Direct as a Social Enterprise… The Brand.. The Persona

Credit Direct as a Social Enterprise- The Brand, The Persona.

Human-to-human connections are the heart and soul of a business. Put simply, business occurs when an individual or group of people deliberately provide services that eases the life of another person in a profitable manner. A business is about solving problems, alleviating pain points, creating a rapport with consumers, and providing delightful customer experiences. Profit only comes when a sound business model is matched with a positive customer experience. At Credit Direct Limited, the knowledge of what business is truly about is what wakes us up daily, motivates us to join the early morning rush, sit in the road rage patiently with a simple purpose to arrive at the office as early as possible to serve our esteemed customers.

Our passion to serve is what propels the sales team to beat the torturous weathers of Sokoto, Gombe and Katsina States and meander through the slippery footpaths of riverine areas in Bayelsa and Rivers States in search of more Nigerians to solve their financial challenges. The joy and amazement on the faces of customers when they get credited with the requested loans within few hours is what motivates our management to workday and night strategizing new ways to make the business meet its promise and deliver a phenomenal experience to customers. Even though the Credit Direct team may get held up in traffic for long hours in Lagos, travel across the country to visit stakeholders or put themselves in harm’s way walking the streets up North seeking another customer to assist, our duty to serve and care for our customers brings fulfillment to everyone in our value chain.

At Credit Direct, we are a long chain of professionals, bond together by one mission – we enable Peace of Mind. The fact that majority of Nigerians still find it difficult to access credit at the point of emergencies motivates us to think deeply about how to solve this critical socio-economic problem. There are the loopholes to fill, there are openings to fix, there are needs to meet, and fortunately there is Credit Direct to meet those needs.

The Credit Direct Brand is all about meeting the needs of those who were uncared for and those with genuine need for money but could not be accommodated not because of any fault of theirs but because the neglect was widespread and deep, because the divide between the affluent and mass market was deliberate to ensure there is always a second class category whenever it is decision making time. Credit Direct continuously disrupt the space and does what a lot of people including experts believe and consider “IMPOSSIBLE” to achieve, what industry legends regarded as a definite loss of revenue and reputation if ventured into. In fact, when we started, 6 months our proposal stayed in the hands of top business executives and government officials and the verdict was “try this at your own peril” why was that the narrative and how did we change the narrative to a winning one? The answer is simple, because the idea was not for “profit” or “loss”. It was not set up for the Balance Sheet figures at the end of every financial year, it was not set up for big board meetings and extravagant Annual General Meetings, it was set up to put smiles on the faces of salaried employees who are real economic actors in the theatre called Nigeria. To bring peace and fulfilment to a father whose child laid on the sick bed and would not be attended to till he makes a deposit. For the mother who toils daily yet cannot afford to pay the fees of the child and he is driven from school on the first day of the third term examination just because her salary had not yet been paid. For the hardworking civil servant whose rent is due, and the landlord has pasted the eviction notice with a short timeline. Now those are the real heroes we were born to help, and yes, we have created a long list of promoters across territories who never knew their potentials till they got their loans on the same day and sometime instantly.

I can never forget the story of a dear customer who came into one of our branches in the North, crying and sobbing that his only son lies sick on the hospital bed and needs to make a payment for immediate surgery or else he would die, he begged and pleaded for a loan, we sat him down and comforted him, gave him a form to complete and requested a few documents to complete the loan request process which he hurriedly left to get the requested documents. He returned in 2 hours and after submission, he sat there waiting, obviously with tons of scenarios playing out in his mind, he paced all round the banking hall muttering prayers under his breathe and at about 3:45pm same day he got an alert, he screamed so loud it caused a stare and with a happy heart, he knelt down in appreciation. For us that was the goal, that is satisfaction. We had fulfilled our purpose that day.

Credit Direct went unchallenged in the unsecured consumer finance space for over 4 years (April 2007 to December 2011) and recognized as one of the best performing companies across all business performance indicators. This is a clear evidence to what a company that puts customer satisfaction before profit can achieve in a world of business previously considered to be a one-way ticket to bankruptcy. Our success has inspired others to follow in our footstep, increasing competition in the unsecured lending market. We encourage competition because for us the idea is not to monopolize the market but to solve a socio-economic need. So, while others try to outcompete us, we expand our customer base simply by caring and connecting deeper with our customers. We organized stakeholder’s forum, engagement sessions, understood our customers better and then made heavy investment in Corporate Social Responsibility. We upgraded schools and provided adequate learning tools for students, we provided free health checks for our customers, we trained our customers (Teachers and professionals) on entrepreneurial skills and service, we granted scholarships to students who excelled in their studies as a motivation to others to ensure that they level up and to show that there is reward for hardwork. We provided learning materials and sponsored people living with Disabilities in our own little ways. We sponsored events and projects that help create value for those who truly need our support. Doing all these bring smiles to our customers and we look forward to doing even more as each year pass by.

While we invest in our customers, we are also particular about our staff “our greatest assets” who ensure the brand is fully expressed along the fabric of the country from North to South, from East to West, through the shore lines of the Niger Delta to the Rocky terrains of the north. Indeed, we have the best team ever. The fact that you can leverage staff who are promoters to sell your products and exceed the needs of the customer gives you double assurance that you have built a business and a product that is wholesome.

Our unique way of doing business has endeared us to millions of customers around the country who are the heartbeat of the Credit Direct family. We have created a brand persona that resonates within the industry, we just don’t grant loans we enable PEACE OF MIND.

Our customers are the stars in our epic story, we are only the supporting character.

We are Credit Direct Limited, Nigeria’s Number One Unsecured Consumer Finance Lenders.

Joseph Osodi writes in from our Brand Marketing and Communications desk of Credit Direct Limited.

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Rethinking Your Approach To Customer Experience.

Recently there has been an upsurge in the general buzz around this phrase “customer experience” and most corporates across the globe including the Nigerian market are clamoring to get on the band wagon even though the greater number hardly know in which direction it is headed. While there is an increasing agreement that customer experience has become the differentiating factor among brand products and services which increasingly seem more generic, very few organisations actually realize what it is or how to arrive at a good customer experience. 

Customer experience as we know it today is an evolved hybrid of several diverse disciplines and an epiphany from post purchase services and customer support to the frontlines of customer engagement. It is a concept that has grown over several decades from advertising market research in the 1920s through the 1970s to other customer focused initiatives like Total Quality Management (TQM) and the idea of customer satisfaction which came to prominence in the 1980s. These were initially measurement frameworks but progressively made the transition from product quality to value addition and paved the way for process engineering and more value initiatives in the 1990s such that increasingly attention shifted from customer satisfaction to customer value. Over time, the idea of capturing the voice of the customer took deeper root entrenched in the technological advancements of the 2000s which saw the rise of the Call Centers that offered the insight the voice of the customer could provide. This was particularly welcome as most companies sought to move away from relying on their own perceptions or theories about customer needs, desires, and feedback that left them tone-deaf to the voice of the customer. This voice of the customer was further refined with the emergence in 2003 of the 11-point scale Net Promoter Score (NPS) that subtracts brand “detractors” from brand “promoters”. The NPS made the erstwhile complex data easier for executives to understand and being so much cheaper than the complex metrices available at the time was greatly appealing and acceptable. Customer Experience as a discipline was then further entrenched when in 2011 the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) was founded. Today the concept of Customer Experience has transcended any one field of endeavor and is increasingly seen more as a company’s end-to-end interactive relationship with its customers. 

Customer experience, as the phrase connotes, is therefore the actual interaction between a brand and its customers and though frequently confused with brand experience referring to the general impression of a company’s products and services, customer experience goes beyond mere impression to actual participation. These two concepts are so intertwined that for many they have come to mean one and the same thing however while an impression could even be formed from third party information and without any actual involvement, customer experience is the tangible and even emotional journey that provides that bridge from a customer’s expressed need to achievement of the customer’s ultimate goal. This journey may last as long as getting an entire education or be as brief as quenching a thirst but, in each instance, how the customer feels in the course of the interaction defines the type of customer experience delivered. Over the years the desire to deliver the best customer experience has led to bloated 

Call Centers which ultimately became redundant with the ascendancy of interactive technology and do-it-yourself ( DIY) service platforms while for others their attempt to deliver the all elusive perfect experience has spiraled into technology addiction because they forget that technology in itself is just a tool which in the long run will only serve up a cold and lifeless package to the customer. This kind of service may initially be welcomed for its convenience but in the long run in spite of its attempts with chat bots bearing names of our neighbors and friends will also be detested for its inability to resound with the basic human need for warmth and empathy. It is therefore obviously counter-productive to serve up a generic “customer experience” dish because each customer has a unique perspective on their experience which begins the moment they engage with a brand, grows as they interact with its various touch points and lasts for the duration of the relationship. The traditional touchpoint-oriented, metric-driven way of thinking about customer experience however has a large blind spot which can only be fixed by taking an end-to-end view of the customer journey and the importance of understanding how interdependent individual touchpoints are along the journey. Many organizations are unable to evolve from the mental model of ‘having’ customers to ‘being’ a customer and so they fail to provide value that addresses the ‘customer need’. 

The focus of any company seeking to effectively deliver customer experience should therefore be on addressing customer needs not improving a process in order to force it on the customer. The bedrock of a pleasant customer experience consequently lies in the culture of the people; the purpose behind the brand; the very foundation of how an organization conducts its business; their DNA, if you may. A case in point is Credit Direct Limited where the culture dictates that we embed current customer insights into every aspect of our operations by listening to and acting on the customer’s voice. The first very step is at the front line, where employees close the loop with customers on direct feedback, then using that insight we continuously change the way the process is designed or executed to suit the customer. The questions we always ask are: Exactly who are our customers as individuals? What motivates them? What do they want to achieve? What are the fundamental causes of satisfaction? Overall, every effort is made to personalize communication during every important phase in the customer’s journey. 

To maximize customer experience, companies must shift perspective from touchpoints and focus attention on the more important issue: the customer’s end-to-end journey – an aggregate of the whole. It is logical to think in terms of touchpoints—the individual transactions through which customers interact with parts of the business and its offerings however these often prove to be tasteless when taken in silos, only by looking at the customer’s experience through his or her own eyes—along the entire journey taken—can you really begin to understand how to meaningfully improve performance. It is those companies that provide the customer with the best experience from start to finish along the journey that can expect to enhance their customer experience. As the good book says, better is the end of a matter than its beginning; It is the ultimate feeling you leave the customer with that truly matters and not one individual rung on the service ladder.

Achia Tor-Agbidye writes in..

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Defining Leadership: What It Is; What It Is Not.

Credit Direct Limited

Defining Leadership

What really is leadership? I can provide several definitions from great authors and leaders, but I will like to work to the basics, looking at its root. Leadership is ‘leader’-‘ship’, i.e. the ship of a leader. What is a ‘ship’? It is a means of transportation from one place to another. So, what does it mean to ‘lead’? The noun meaning of ‘lead’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is to be the first, to be in a position of advantage, to be in the forefront or ahead, to be top or take initiative and the verb meaning of ‘lead’ is to serve as a channel, direct a course or to guide on a way, especially by going in advance or forward. A ‘leader’ on the other hand (hold on, before you reach for your dictionary), simply put, is someone who satisfies the above context. To piece the definitions together, leadership means:

  • the means of moving ahead
  • to direct or chart a course to be the first or to move forward
  • to serve as a channel to place others in a position of advantage

Now that we have established the meaning of leadership, let’s discuss what leadership is and what it is not. I will use the elimination approach and start with what leadership is not.

What Leadership Is Not

  • Leadership is not a reward for long service – While consulting for several companies in the past, I have seen this error made severally. There seems to be an assumption that since an employee has been in an organisation for a long time, the logical next step is for them to lead. Long service, although may be an advantage to a leader, it is not a requirement for leadership and should not be the sole reason for rewarding people with leadership role.
  • Leadership is not a special trait that only a select few possess. It is not inborne; it can be developed. Yes, the charisma may come more easily for some, but leadership is more than that. There are training courses for leadership, you can be mentored/coached to lead, and you can learn to lead from other great leaders. Leadership is not for a select few, anyone can learn to lead.
  • Leadership is not just about influence. That you have great charisma and can sway people with your words or style or get them to submit to you doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. Influence is beneficial in leadership when combined with other attributes. Influence alone does not make you a leader. While I am on this table, let me shake it well, that you are a social media influencer does not make you a leader. We shouldn’t misconstrue these things.
  • Leadership is not superiority; it doesn’t mean you are the smartest person in the room. Superior talent, skill, network, qualification, etc. does not make you a leader. That you are a leader, does not mean you are superior – you do not become a leader because you are superior neither do you become superior because you are now a leader.
  • Leadership is not a personality type. No one personality type is best for leadership. Your being introverted or extroverted does not place you in a better position to be a leader.
  • Leadership is not about instilling fear in people. While good leadership comes with reverence, the leader does not start out with that objective. In fact, fear and reverence are two different things. When people flee at your presence or tremble at the thought of you, it is no longer leadership!
  • Leadership does not mean been exalted, somewhat like been on a pedestal where you cannot be reached, addressed or even corrected. Leadership does not mean closing the access that others have to you. It doesn’t mean you are above the law.
  • Leadership does not mean using others to achieve your goals. I have saved this one for last because I know some people will raise their eye brows here. You thought leadership was about setting goals and marshalling the team to achieve them. That will make you a good manager, not necessarily a leader. Sorry to burst your bubble.

I have identified what leadership is not so that you can eliminate them from your mind set and begin to rethink leadership.

What Leadership Is

Going by the definition of leadership provided in this article, I will use the analogy of the ship. I will liken the ship to the organisation or entity, the captain to the leader, the people on board the ship to the followers. There are three primary responsibilities that every leader must excel at:

  1. Clarify the Destination: I consider this the most important job of the leader because every other activity carried out by the leader revolves around this. If the vision is not properly crafted and communicated, the ship will be headed nowhere. There will be confusion, resources will be wasted – you don’t know what’s needed or how much is needed, etc. A properly crafted vision must be one that is shared and one that advances the collective. It may emanate from the leader, but everyone on the ship must buy into it. Otherwise, one follower will reach for one sail to increase the speed and the other will be trying to make a turn at the same time. What you have is chaos, and eventually, destruction of the ship. The destination or vision must be clear, shared and well communicated. Clarifying and communicating the vision also helps ensure you have the right people on the ship. The people on the ship are not taking a jolly ride, they must be people who also desire to go to the planned destination. It shouldn’t just be the leader’s vision, it should be everyone’s vision.
  • Chart the Course: There is a Yoruba adage that means, there are several entry points into the market. When a clear picture of the destination or vision has been shared, the leader must chart the course to the destination. How do we get there? in what state do we want to get there? when must we get there? Craft a strategy, develop a plan to get there. The plan must be clear; clear enough for everyone to grasp it without you being there. It shouldn’t be your plan; it should be our plan.
  • Sail, adjust, sail: Once the vision is clear, and the strategic plan has been adopted, all that’s left is to sail. Harness the collective capacity of the people and sail. Sail according to plan, sail towards the vision. The winds will blow, course-correct and continue sailing. If circumstances make you lose sight of the vision, review the vision now and again to strengthen your focus and ignite passion. Keep inspiring the people to keep their gaze on the vision and fully apply themselves and you will arrive the destination soon enough.

Three simple responsibilities, you may say, but the establishment and sustainability of organisations rest on the leader’s ability to skilfully execute them. Successful leadership requires trust, heart and grit – I call them the pillars of leadership. I will talk about them in the next publication.

Are you currently in a leadership role? Do a quick self-assessment on how well you are faring on these responsibilities. Also check yourself against what leadership is not. If you see areas that you are doing well, give yourself a pat on the back. If you identify areas of improvement, pen them down and seek ways to close the gap. We need more leaders. Leaders who will help us see a new horizon, who will skilfully chart the course despite our diversity and advance the cause of our organisations.

-Oluwatosin Oyebola

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Customers Are Not Interested In Your Company, Only Their Satisfaction.

In today’s article, we focus on the only employer of labour – the customer. It is not news that all economically productive Nigerians (paid and unpaid labour) are engaged within the context of a defined arrangement to render services or deliver products. At the extremes, house-wives are engaged within the context of a family (delivering service to the home), and politicians engaged within the context of a political party and constituencies “to serve” the public’s interest.  The organisations that demand our time and service in exchange for wages or other forms of compensation are either profit oriented or not-for-profit oriented. Further classifications of for-profit organisations range from Corporations (large corporates) to sole proprietorship (the classic one-man business) while not-for-profits include Non-governmental organisations, Foundations, Government & Government-related establishments. While there are differences among organisations’ arrangements, businesses and structures; there is a unifying element called CUSTOMER and there is also a consensus that the customer is important. Even the average Nigerian politician now know that electorates “the politician’s customers” are important.

How Important is the Customer?

There is a popular saying that “the customer is king”. But is the customer really king? Let us quickly test this with a few questions: Have you ever got stuck on an idea because you are unsure if the service or product to be produced will sell? Have you ever launched a product or service you thought would be successful but didn’t sell enough to break-even let alone make a profit? How about business promotions, incentives or loyalty programs offered that you were sure will move the market but did not? Ever wondered why you keep losing customers to competitors, or outcomes of several planning sessions, professional advice and consulting-spend that did not make significant difference to sales nor profit?

The answer to all questions above and many more is the psyche of your CUSTOMER! The interesting thing is that the handlers or owners of organisations are worried about making their products or services appealing to customers because buying decisions positively connect with organisations specific outcomes such as a mandate, sales target, revenues, profit. However, the open secret is that customers are not interested in the organisations nor their financial performance. On the contrary, organisations are dead without customers.  Therefore, it is safe to say that the customer is not only king but the life blood of every business.

The Pitfall to Avoid About the Customer

Many businesses (small & BIG) echo their customer focus and initiatives for customer satisfaction, but unfortunately, they plan and implement in the wrong direction. The cause of these is closely related to the fact that the hearts of many organisations (people, process, systems, structure, rewards, etc.) remain rigidly product-centric, channelling attention and resources towards developing products or services without careful attention to consumers’ expectations. Most organisations therefore live in an alternate reality to their customers, holding an assumed belief of customers’ perception of their products and/or services as true when many times it may be wrong. Organisations that enforce their commitment to customer satisfaction from this standpoint will continue to lose large numbers of customers in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

The Journey to Satisfy the Customer

To demonstrate how the journey of customer focus should take-off, let me share two examples:

  1. A baker who specialized in baking bread located his bakery in a densely populated settlement in Ibadan. The baker started his bakery believing he knew what the customers will want in a bread, the usual he said, “competitive price, nutritious bread evidenced in taste, relatively heavy weight, attractive packaging and of course with NAFDAC registration number”. Alas, while the business owners’ perceptions are all lofty, after about a year in business, the baker learnt the sad truth that what he initially thought was important to the customer turned out to be the least of their priority. While speaking to a good number of his customers he learnt their true priority. They echoed to him, “what we really want is a bread with inner space that can be loaded with protein – bean cake, eggs (this clearly contradicts the baker’s initial perception that customers wanted a relatively heavy weight bread), and we buy the tallest bread within the same price range on the shelf (neither weight nor width mattered, only length!). Disappointed, he said to himself, if only I knew this earlier, my focus would have been sharper and my sales, better!
  2. A Lagos & Abuja based consulting firm named Management Transformation conducted a survey on factors that influence customer’s choice of Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) in Nigeria. Findings showed that while restaurant owners held ambience, variety of dishes, prices and other factors in high esteem, customers are all about the old faithful’s – quality of food and service, as they represent the most important factors to customers’ decision making on a restaurant choice.

So, from the above examples, the first simple principle to being customer focused is to know your customer. Many have been in businesses for years and they truly don’t know their customer. In-fact; you, your friends, family, neighbour, your average church or mosque members may not be the definition of your customer. Hence, wholly adopting their wants and suggestions can be damaging to your customers’ satisfaction. Imagine the irony of asking your grandparent on the type of a mobile phone your spouse will like, even with the best of intentions, it is unlikely to be on point! Therefore, it is fundamental that organisations begin to re-think approach to customer satisfaction and seek ways that guarantees competitive edge. The most effective way is by adopting the business specific customer-centric mindset, starting with a clear understanding of your customer.

The second principle in this article on the journey of being customer focused is another simple and obvious principle which can be picked from the examples above. If you want to know how to serve your customers? Ask them. Many businesses embark on unnecessary projects and schemes aimed to impress the customer but end up adding no value to the business and sometimes destroy value. Imagine a company that felt an internal push (not customer) to rebrand and successfully changed a product wrap that the customer still wanted. The result was a decline in sales contrary to the intention.

The third principle I invite readers to note is that when your customers finally speak to you, take it as being entrusted with the life blood that the survival of the business is hinged on, and don’t betray their trust. Don’t be arrogant, act on your market’s feedback because if you do not, others will and remember the customer is not interested in your company but relative superior satisfaction.

Businesses (existing and start-ups) that can embrace the above principles will do well in their customer satisfaction journey and in-turn have their business generate better sales and profitability. Examples abound of businesses and industries that are listening to their customers and acting on the customers’ response. Industries examples include the Nigerian Fashion & Music Industries that have continued to evolve and currently being shaped by entrepreneurs who listen and act on customers’ and markets’ request.

Businesses that will not embrace the customer centric principles have unknowingly adopted a strategy tagged “picking up coins in front of a bulldozer”, you may have momentary gains, but such businesses are unlikely to exist profitably in the long-run. Let me leave business owners, intrapreneurs and aspiring business owners with a few questions; Who are your customers? How are you presently pursuing or plan to pursue your customers satisfaction? Are you getting ahead and getting the results you want? What needs to change? Based on the principles described in this article, are you ready to make the change? These are the relevant questions I invite readers to reflect upon and provide objective answers to because change cannot occur until you realise the need for change by acknowledging the limitations in your present situation.

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