Fred Swaniker’s 5 Lessons for Leading in Africa

This past Wednesday, July 13th, African Leadership Group Founder Fred Swaniker conducted a leadership webinar in which he conveyed the 5 big lessons he has learned about leading successfully in Africa. From becoming the headmaster of a school in Botswana at 18, to leading several pan-African companies that employ over 300 people collectively, Swaniker has experienced first-hand what it means to lead on the continent of Africa. He began the leadership webinar by stressing the importance of hiring practices to the success of any organization. The 3 factors of success in building great organizations are the idea, the capital, and the team. Of these 3 factors, great teams was identified by Swaniker as the scarce resource in Africa.

Second, Swaniker advised up and coming African leaders to take a continental view. Collectively, African countries rival the size of markets such as North America, the EU, India, and China. Businesses, including Coca-Cola and MTN, that have done well in Africa have done so because they have taken a continental view from the outset. This approach both reduces risk and increases the size of the market one has access to.

Next, Swaniker stressed the importance of the trust quotient for business, but especially in Africa. He noted that there are many fly-by-night operators in Africa, therefore one can distinguish oneself by being someone who gets things done. Developing a solid reputation and strong relationships through trust, will allow you to attract the necessary capital and talent.

Fourth, Swaniker outlined the advantage of setting high standards. Too often, standards are lowered on the continent in terms of products and service delivery. Instead of copying global best practices, this is a chance for Africa to create new practice; to learn from the mistakes of others and to surpass them.

Finally, to succeed in Africa, Swaniker advised aspiring leaders to have a set of values, foremost among these transparency, that they consider non-negotiable. He qualified this by noting that we are all human, and it will be impossible to live up to these values every single day.

To watch the full leadership webinar, click here.

For more information on the new ALU School of Business, visit alusb.com.

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