Aliko Dangote is an African-Nigerian investor, businessman and the CEO of Dangote Industries/Group; born in 1957. Dangote holds a ‘Business Studies and Administration’ bachelor’s degree from Al-Azhar University, Cairo. Dangote founded the Dangote Group 38 years ago and has managed to establish the business as the largest corporation in West Africa; with most of its operations in Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, and Benin amongst other 14 African countries (Campbell, 2018). Dangote Group deals with commercialization of salt, rice, flour, pasta, fish, fertilizer, cement, oil, gas, textile, and is also involved in the transport, banking and real estate industries among others. Dangote has been featured in various rankings as the richest man in Africa with a net worth of about $12.2 billion. Despite being featured as a committed, enthusiastically rich and influential person, Dangote is a detribalized and non-partisan fellow with high generosity to various political associations, cultural institutions and religious groups. What’s interesting about this leader is how he beats the odds; coming out of a developing country and creating influence of leadership globally just by what describes him to be a leader.
Dangote’s Leadership Evaluation
The first description of Aliko Dangote is his transformational style of leadership. With this kind of style, a leader focuses on establishing links between him and those he leads as the chairman and CEO of the Dangote Group. From the transformation theory, a leader in this category engages with others freely and works towards creating a good connection that enhances morality and motivation of the team (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Transformational leaders inspire and stimulate their followers to achieve odd outcomes while also developing their leadership capacity. Such a process of developing others comes through responding to the needs and expectations of the followers through empowering them (Northouse, 2018). It also emanates out of aligning the goals and objectives of the individual followers and the whole organization. The Dangote group deals with several commercial items each under its own management. Having more than 20 commodities in the market that translate to such a success seen in Dangote, implies that Dangote as a transformational leader builds confidence in the leaders he delegates those management roles and motivates them to become focused in their performances.
Dangote is a competent and singly-committed leader as noted from his performance during the good, ugly and bad times of leading his business group. As a singly-committed leader he makes more effort in following up the progress of his businesses. As a competent leader he nourishes himself and remains focused through self-motivation regardless of the times. Having in mind that a leader’s most important role is to generate results, Dangote has managed to withstand various harsh market conditions in Africa to become one of the most successful people across the world. Nigeria is one of the nations with high level of poverty where nearly 100 million people out of 180 million are poor (Ayres, 2019). While many other businesspersons would be tied to the excuses of ‘hard times’ in the African countries, Dangote seized every opportunity that he thought of as seen in the many ventures the Group deals with. Further, as a competent leader he took lead in supplying the ‘basics’ of what is needed by the populace he serves, especially food stuffs that are very necessary for daily lives.
Furthermore, becoming a successful businessperson requires a good operating environment influenced by external factors such as politics of the country (Coen, Grant & Wilson, 2010). Dangote is a smart and sensible entrepreneur who embraces pro-business strategies by showing interest in political issues which are critical in influencing government’s support of businesses. In his speech in PES University, Bangalore, India in 2015, Dangote quoted “I’m close to people in government since I’m one of the prominent Nigerian Businessmen. If we don’t have the right people there then all the money I have is useless. If the country turns into another Zimbabwe, for example, then I will become a poor person.” From these words, it can confirm that he is a leader who acknowledges the role of government in his leadership position and takes an active role in ensuring government leadership also is supportive to his will. Following the trail back in his family, it can be noted that it is part of the knowledge he received from his grandfather and mentor, Sanusi Dantata, that the government should not be fought. All this explains why he holds the GCON national honor in Nigeria.
With an understanding that his business group thrives within the community, Dangote has embraced a community-based passionate style of leadership all since its establishment. With passionate style of leadership, people led feel a deep sense of being guided in a proper direction by a leader committed to what is more significant to the entire team or community than his/her individual glory (Davies & Brighouse, 2010). Dangote has shown his passionate leadership by supporting the local communities greatly through the establishment of Dangote Foundation that has been operating since 1994. This is the largest foundation in Africa, having an endowment of more than $1.25 billion (United Nations, 2019). While the Foundation is locally focused, it’s globally oriented by enhancing the education, health and nutrition of Nigerians. As a passionate leader, he is concerned of uplifting vulnerable people from their poverty statuses through economic empowerment. Other than focusing on profit-making with his business group, Dangote has a deep sense of uplifting others to become leaders with time by supporting them in his Foundation. This is an encouragement to the people where his business thrives as they feel supported and thus creates motivation amongst workers for further progress.
Dangote is a leader who appreciates the cultural environment where his business group operates; a consideration that has empowered his business group. An important aspect of the cultural environment is the religions and its influences on business (Adeoye & Elegunde, 2012). As a leader, he has ensured that the business group is not only led by his religious affiliates but by anyone with the required skills. This minimizes religious biasness at workplace and also translates to the populace that feels free in promoting the business. Additionaly, his business commercializes what is culturally acceptable by the majority of religious groups in Nigeria and different countries of existence, such as flour, rice, and sugar. Starbucks is an established brand that had hitches setting up in India in 2007 and had to abort a partnership with Future Group for 5 years before re-opening (Tapper, 2014). These challenges were mainly brought about failure to understand the cultural preferences of the Indians about their dishes; an implication that indeed culture plays a crucial role in business success.
Furthermore, Dangote is a visionary leader who is inspired and driven by what a business can become with time. He seems not to be bogged down by technical details, but focuses on the larger picture with the intention to usher in different innovation eras of development. Being a visionary leader characteristically entails bringing cohesiveness to propel everyone to be at par. In meeting the organization’s objectives, a visionary leader has to be determined and charismatic while identifying himself/herself as confident coach who is supposed to guide the company through various transitions or difficult times. Dangote Refinery is one of the several projects that manifest Dangote as a visionary leader. This project is an oil refinery business that is expected to cost a total of $15 billion for the facility that will be refining more than 650,000 crude oil barrels on a daily basis. While this might seem to be a mega-project and unfeasible to many at the glance, Dangote envisions of the level this venture would have grown into a few years later. This leadership style comes along with thorough research and optimism.
While Dangote uses a transformational style of leadership to motivate and develop employees, I would advocate the use of a transactional style of leadership. Transactional leadership is concerned with conformation to the existing organizational structure and the results (Odumeru & Ogbonna, 2013). Therefore, it measures success according to the established organization’s system of rewarding and penalizing. Since the Dangote Group is a well-established organization, it is easier to enforce this kind of leadership due to the nature of its fixed operations where there are repetitive processes such as flour processing. The incorporation of this kind of leadership will help to track the processes based on the routine expectations and performance can be traced through the processes. From the processes, rewards or punishments can be done where there’s increased productivity and poor productivity respectively. This will ensure that set goals for different processes are achieved faster. Additionally, since the Dangote group comprises of many businesses, it would be easier to train employees to practice the style due to it simplistic nature comparative to transformational leadership.
In addition to the transactional leadership, I would have blended it with a democratic leadership manner since there are structured rules that need to be followed for every business entity. The democratic leadership creates a power sharing arrangement where the influence within the workplace is divided amongst individuals with inequalities in hierarchy (Bhatti et al., 2012). Such a leadership will create a kind of shared leadership that allows sharing of opinions, experience and knowledge about a situation or project before the leader makes necessary decision. New ideas are shared openly without making unnecessary judgments. Similarly, this will boost the employees’ morale for working hard in achieving the set goals. Muhtar Kent is an example of a successful leader who also embraced democratic leadership by seeking key decision-making inputs from others. This style enhanced his manufacturing efficiencies and managerial processes by seeking diversity in the team.
An alternative leadership style to Dangote’s way of competently and singly working hard is delegation style of tasks. This type of leadership is referred to as laissez-faire leadership where there is little to no kind of any supervision and most of the tasks are assigned to different responsible members (Furtner, Baldegger & Rauthmann, 2013). This will allow more time for dedication to other projects since less time is spent on managing other employees. The Dangote Group is such large with many businesses in it which cannot be run effectively by having a single person on top following everything that goes on. Therefore, it would be important to have every single different entity having a manager who is responsible for ensuring the set goals are met. Building a strong team and then getting out of the way will build more confidence in the employees from the trust they are entrusted with. Warren Buffett is an example of leader who exhibits this kind of leadership by making investment decisions and trusting his managers to execute it in achieving the expected performance. This leadership style will help him avoid excessive single-based commitment in chasing business goals.
I would also embrace a democratic style of leadership when it comes to seeking government’s involvement in the business; therefore I would advocate for pro-market way of doing business. With this style of business leadership, I should be seeking a level ground to be established by the government for a fair competition. This will ensure that the business group is not taking advantage of its position to ‘kill’ other businesses of similar interests in the market. Moreover, a pro-market mind would enable the business group to focus more on please the customers who are the consumers and promoters of the business rather than using excess resources to secure government favors (Caplan, 2018). The pro-market idea of leadership is a quicker and simpler way to imply that the leader has concerns with other businesspeople rather than favoring its own market. This is a mutually fair operating environment that could also act positively to the existence of the business group if it had uneven operating ground before.
Alternative to being a passionate and supportive leader towards the community, I would provide a risk-based thinking leadership in the Dangote Group. By being risk-proactive, I would have determined the various interested parties, their needs and expectations. This would help understand their level of influence to the business and the nature of risk they pose to the business (Aven, 2012). This would entail having a contingency plan in place on how to manage the community as a significant interested party which act as the consumers. Through his passionate leadership style, Dangote has concentrated his business group only in Africa without evaluating opportunities for overseas. In regard to this matter, I would undertake a risk assessment of the available opportunities for the business in other places too; to ensure that the business is not affected greatly by location threats in the same place.
Alternative to Dangote’s way of managing cultural sensitivity in the business, I would advocate for leadership that supports cultural and social interests in the community. This form of leadership creates a sense of belonging of the community to the business group especially where they feel supported. Such support can include charities, food supply to hunger-stricken areas, free medical camps, sporting events, capacity building amongst others. In line with this leadership, I would be advocating for decentralization of the business groups to various places to ensure that community support through jobs creation and related development is done in an effective manner. These kinds of support should be offered without any biasness aligned to political affiliations of religious attachments.
There are a couple of things attributed to any organizational success, and leadership is undoubtedly one of the key reasons behind the success. Leadership varies from one organization to the other depending on the leadership style preferred by the leader. Therefore, the success of any business is directly determined by the leadership characteristics or qualities of the leader in charge. Featuring as part of the Fortune list of 2018 world’s top 50 leaders is an evident confirmation of good leadership traits; as can be traced in Aliko Dangote. Starting from his background and community of business development, it can be noted that he made struggles to keep his status well known and influential.
This was possible through his transformational visionary, and community-based passionate leadership style, competency and commitment, optimism and pro-business/pro-government strategy. These being clearly pointed out from his leadership, there are obviously other supporting factors in regard to his leadership that played a crucial role in his success. However, there are some alternative ways of leadership that can be applied in similar situation where Dangote operates. This includes transactional, democratic, and laissez-faire forms of leadership together with being risk proactive. Though these alternatives might not work singly better on their own in the same situation, they can be integrated by his current form of leadership to foster his success.
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