With his signature beard, glistening face, an infectious smile, and a physique to break any woman’s strides, he is the epitome of self-motivation, discipline and empathy. Victor Omole, the Chairman, Archers Group, is as strong as a lion but known to operate like a sheep. Growing up in a purely polygamous home but with a robust pedigree, he has learned the place of leadership. With business interests spanning healthcare and real estate, across Nigeria and Ghana, his life reads like a script anchored on enduring success unquestionably forged in the place of discipline. Adedayo Adejobi writes
For a businessman whose day begins at 4:55 a.m. with a cup of black coffee and raisins, followed by a 12-kilometre walk, Victor Adeoye Omole still believes his forefathers were stronger on account of their walking to the farms and back home.
“Sometimes, when I go on a walk, I go with my wife and in the process, we are able to discuss issues soundly,’’ he begins, calmly. “It is at that communication level that most issues are resolved; issues about family, the kids, health, and virtually everything.”
He doesn’t joke with his daily one-hour devotion after the early morning walk, a die-hard habit since 2004.
His daily regimen includes going to the office in the morning to oversee the activities in Nigeria and the arm of the business in Ghana while returning home to bond with the children later in the day. He considers himself a boss who is accessible.
“I believe you should be accessible but don’t deplete yourself. You must delegate but be accessible because what you don’t supervise doesn’t get done.”
Asserting his presence at the office is deliberate: to supervise, inspect and motivate. With his superior judgment, he could resolve issues from an informed state of mind.
“You must do an on-the-spot assessment. That’s how the President does it. That’s how governors do it. Why do presidents visit their troops? It’s to boost their morale. This is because you can’t leave men fighting on the war-front without going to see them. So, it’s the same thing with your work. Most companies that prosper depend on the level of administration by the owner. Once you’re not on the ground things would go bad. Experience has taught me that.”
His management philosophy is hinged on an all-inclusive involvement of those in the production process. For him, his staff must have a sense of belonging enhanced by either paybacks or giveaways.
“Once a member of staff has a problem, everybody rallies around that staff to help solve the problem. For example, when someone’s father dies, he must not ask for a loan. You must be able to offer some form of assistance. A wife wants to give birth. There must be that kindredship, that family conviviality around the staff. Once you are able to do that, you don’t need to talk to people because your action has shown glaringly that you’re a people-centred individual and therefore they will be ready to follow anywhere. They’ll give you their all,” he enthuses.
Omole is one who loves his staff to take initiative as he believes that there are many approaches to solving an issue.
“For example, 2+2=4 just as 1+3=4; so you must allow people because your approach is not the only approach there is. Let people give you feedback because if you micromanage, you’re killing people’s values. But the leadership must come in where there seems to be a problem, like a mother vessel, to solve the problem. I believe in an organisation, the lowest staff has something to say because as they say, ‘a chain is as strong as the weakest link.’ Every member of the organisation must all believe we’re in it together. Whatever you do prosper more in the place of counsel and it’s very important,” he says.
Though a very busy CEO, he is never stingy with his knowledge. An avid reader, he also unwinds by watching documentaries with a bias for fantasies, animation, and crime. But generally, he loves films and vacations. His choice holiday destination? “Oh, that’s Lagos and outside the country, that would be Accra, in Ghana. The country I like most is India; India for variety. I love India for accessibility and I love India for respect for other nations. They enjoy it a lot because they understand how to manage their population so that other people will consider them in major economic policies.”
A self-motivated individual, Omole thinks that “the only way you can make it and sustain it is through commerce. In commerce, when you innovate and give value, people will pay for that value and what people pay is in relation to how they value what you have. So, if it’s valuable they’ll pay you and it will win you accolades. I try as much as possible to solve a problem and once that problem is being solved, I get motivated by it and want to do more. I’m a self-starter, innately and God-motivated.”
Omole loves seeing great success built from the scratch, but not at the detriment of losing other things. “Yorubas usually have a prayer point that Oluwa, ma fikan gbakan lowo mi (meaning Lord, don’t bless me with success on the one hand and cause me sorrow on the other hand). Some people might be so rich but yet have poor health and vice versa. So, in summary, what makes me tick is to see something fantastic built from scratch. Once you achieve that kind of success, that thing would tamper you and make you less ticky!”
Speaking on the way he motivates his staff, the CEO reveals: “I motivate my staff in three ways. First is through creating an enabling environment and two, through a fantastic reward system. Thirdly, I recognise those who are doing well and let those who are acting below par to also know they’re being watched closely, as such don’t feign ignorance with people. That way they know they have to sit up or they find their way out of the system. You know there are many battles we fight at the workplace. There is a battle for recognition and want to be at the forefront, some cherish more than the others. So, appreciate those who want it. Let everybody come to their own realisation. Always try to come through for your staff by doing the little things. Their needs are very few. People need to be appreciated.”
He, though, uses the stick-and-carrot approach when the need arises. Not given to manipulating others, he said there must always be checks and balances- allowing each to be accountable to someone. In addition, he suggested good planning which helps a lot in business, family and relationships. He illustrated this using the imagery of a well. Digging a well before one gets thirsty prepares one ahead of the possibility of a loss of strength when one gets thirsty much later.
Also, growing up in a purely polygamous home instilled some values in him. His doting father had four wives and even so, he never fought with his mother. In his view, for a family to succeed, the husband and wife must work for it.
“A man must be as strong as a lion but operate like a sheep. What I have learned over time is that leadership at home rises and falls with the man,” Omole said.
On his sense of style, looks and eating habits, he offered more than just a few tips. “Sometimes I could wear all tight. At other times, I could wear all loose. I dress according to the nature of my work at hand. I maintain my physique with constant exercise like walking and I play table tennis very well too. I also watch what I eat. I used to love cake and ice cream, but I had to leave it. As you get to a certain age, your metabolism drops. So, it’s very important you watch what you eat or you’re going to lose it at some point. You must find the physical exercise that fits. More importantly, we should watch what we eat because the first medicine is food. My food is cheap but nutritious and it can be accessed anywhere I am, as such, I don’t have any problem being able to see what to eat at any time, anywhere. I prefer fish to red meat.”
As a CEO, he is surprisingly domesticated. He could perform some household chores without considering them as demeaning.
“I don’t say ‘such is beneath me’. The greatest men on earth are the meek ones. One of the greatest principles of Nelson Mandela was that he always made his bed in the morning when he was in prison. I also remember an American General, who said, ‘if you cannot make your bed, you’re not a disciplined man.’”
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