How to Boost Executives’ Leadership Quotient in a Recession


In this interview, world renowned academic, Professor Nigel Nicholson of London Business School, speaks on how, in partnership with These Executive Minds (TEXEM), they are boosting Nigerian executives’ Leadership quotient in a recession. Excerpts


Tell us about TEXEM?

These Executive Minds (TEXEM) pride themselves on their ability to customise programmes for their clients and TEXEM have a deep understanding of Africa

Also, Texem and its world class faculty partners have a very good grasp of contextual realities of Africa vis-à-vis fragile institutions, limited infrastructure and the huge size of government.

Tell us about the programme Strategic Leadership Risk Management and Effective Governance coming up on the 27th of October 2016 at the British Deputy High Commissioner’s residence, Lagos:

Decision makers are in positions of huge uncertainty and vulnerability which is underscored by the deepening economic crisis, stiff competitive landscape and haphazard trends in Government /Governance in recent times. There is an urgent need for senior executives to take a strategic approach to combating the myriad of challenges that they face. Thus, the Executive Master Class would change their cognitive orientation in the areas of strategic leadership, enterprise risk management and effective governance so as to build economic sustainability in these times of recession and beyond. The themes that would be covered during this programme include: 1.Board Leadership in Turbulent Times: The board as a secure base. 2. Overcoming Board Blind spots and developing a meaningful role. 3. New Trends in Strategic Thinking: Probe, Sense and React/Internal competitions /Focus Responses. 4. Preparing boards for the unavoidable unanticipated occurrences and crisis that they may face.

The programme is highly relevant to organisations based in emerging countries. The relevance of past programmes organised by TEXEM has been exemplified by 60-70per cent of TEXEM’s delegates being repeat participants. For more information, please visit

What skillsets are a must for leaders of organisations in order to survive in a tough economic climate?

  They need both emotional and intellectual skills in order to be agile and adaptable, and at the same time to maintain cohesion and purpose.  This requires intellect, emotional intelligence, communication and teambuilding skills, a calm nature, energy, and strong values.

 How can a business thrive in spite of turbulent economic times?

 Family businesses often do best at such times, because they take a long term view.  You need to be fast on your feet day to day, but to build and maintain a strong culture and long term relationships that will make you sustainable.

What are leadership skills required to navigating headwinds in challenging economic times?

    You need moral courage, vision and the ability to “decentre” – understand the point of view of others.  You need courage to empower people, and vision that comes from your ability to see the wider landscape of change.  Decentring helps you take the right path to empowering individuals.

How do leaders develop innovation for their organisations?

    It comes from a culture that supports an innovative mind-set – fail fast, fail early; don’t punish mistakes; create a high communications learning environment.  You also need to keep moving people around enough to expose them to new ideas – don’t let people get too settled in groups.  Create virtual spaces and processes that allow people to post and modify ideas

What should leaders in business do consistently to maintain a stable business?

 Stability comes from purpose and flexibility.  Don’t get stuck with rigid structures and processes.  Help people do their best work and learn new skills.

What are leadership strategies for consistent growth?

 It depends on your business type.  Growth may come from constant innovation; it may come from exploring new markets or out-competing others.   Quality rather than price is the key to sustainable growth.

How should leaders measure growth?

 That also depends.  Sales growth is the simplest, but you need to consider more broadly the concept of added value.  Use multiple indicators but don’t fixate on the short term

How can negative change be managed to produce positive results in organisations?

 If you face downsizing it best not to be democratic in sharing the pain all round.  It is necessary to take this as an opportunity to re-calibrate priorities and invest selectively in what will underpin tomorrow’s success.


How can leaders prepare for uncertainty?

Uncertainty is a constant in business, and increasing.   Sorry to repeat myself but you need people to believe the constancy and security of your culture, values, purpose and commitment to a way of doing business

Why is this Texem programme coming up at the British Deputy High Commissioner’s residence on the 27th of October important for Nigerian Executives?

This Executive Masterclass will give people an opportunity to understand some fundamental principles, hear about inspiring examples, learn from each other, and have their own questions discussed directly.