VALUE ADDED THINKING
When the door to Africa opened for Western shoe factories, it was an uncertain opportunity. The first marketing agent sent on feasibility and market survey to Africa was sent with great expectation but he returned without positive result because everyone he met in Africa was walking barefoot and should remain so in his own opinion.
The second marketing agent that replaced him was excited when he got to Africa because everyone was walking barefoot and he saw it as a very lucrative opportunity. He became the pioneer salesman that was instrumental to the shoe revolution in Africa. One major quality that distinguished him from his predecessor is what I call V.A.T – Valued Added Thinking. His Thinking was Programmed to add value to anything and anyone he came in contact with. Value Added Thinking is very essential in every dimension of leadership because every leader is expected to be:
- Like the salt; leaders are expected to add taste (value) to anything or anyone they come in contact with. So wisdom demands that a true leader makes the necessary sacrifices to add value in all spheres of influence.
- Like the salt; leaders are expected to preserve whatever they come in contact with just as salt is a preservative. A Success without a successor is a successful failure; hence, the need for every true leader to preserve what they come in contact with for the next generation to enjoy.
- Like the salt, leaders are expected to oppose errors and misconducts that will try to creep in to pollute or dilute the order of things. When salt comes in contact with worms, the result is predictable; so also, true leaders when introduced into a system will cause great damage to errors and disorder.
If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right both ways because it is what you think that matters.
- Are you a leader?
- Do you have V.A.T.?
There has been countless of books on positive thinking, mentality, leadership, management and so on but the question is: through all these, is there always a positive change or result after the books are read.
For instance, if you have read a book on developing positive mentality and with great motivation you approach life and applied everything learnt in the book; is your life and the lives of the people around you better off when equated to before you read the book? Has that positive thinking added value to anything or to anyone? Or you have just read the book in order to impress people and your colleagues with quotable quotes?
A lot of leaders only consider themselves good leaders when they can give instructions to subordinates. The uselessness of some leaders is revealed when some very relevant employees exit the company. It is then; the so called leader will discover that what he has is the theory and not the know-how.
This does not rule out that many employees are of the syndrome of: “whether we make sales or not, I will collect my salaries at the end of the month”. It is saddening that the advent of new media has reduced drastically the value of most employees. Instead of them thinking hard on how to contribute positively to the company, they sit behind the computers chatting with friends from resumption to closing. If they are not on Facebook, they are on Twitter. If they are not on Twitter, they are on YouTube watching musical videos. And if they are not on YouTube, they are on Africa Magic watching movies. When the boss comes around, they scamper around acting busy. No value. No initiative added. They are like zombies. If the boss is not thinking, they are not thinking.
Someone once said that the government can afford to give every Nigerian one million naira each. Yes! It is possible. But if every Nigerian is given one million naira each, those who will still be poor will be poor. While some are thinking on how to spend their millions, some are thinking of adding value to their millions in order to acquire the millions of others. And before you know it, some few who have V.A.T are counting their billions while those without V.A.T have reduced to their hundreds.
It is not about how much you have but about the value you can add to what you have which can be money, opportunity, position, time, people, ideas etc
As twenty first century leaders, we need to examine ourselves, our thinking and our impact on the region of influence we have.
- To leave a place the same way you met it is contrary to V.A.T.
When you get to any place new, the first thing to do is to look around. Look into the system. There is no perfect system, structure or organization. To say there is nothing to add is erroneous. What makes you stand out is your input in terms of the positive difference you are able to make in a short period. That is the highest point in the hierarchy of V.A.T.
- To leave a place worse than the way you met it is contrary to V.A.T.
The second point is that of maintaining the status quo. No organization prays to die. So, for you to be invited to be a part of the system could mean the system is still thriving and they want you to make it better. But if you cannot make it better, please don’t make it worse.
- To leave a place better than you met it is what V.A.T. produces.
This should be the target of any value adding thinkers. To know the importance of V.A.T, the true life account of Charles will let you know that what you think does not concern you may turn around to be centred on you.
Six years after my first meeting with Charles, there was no doubt that he was a transformed man. Our first meeting was very eventful. I had met him as the Supervisor over a large hotel chain whose conference hall we had wanted to rent for a meeting. He had made a statement that exposed his mindset and I had to pick him up on the statement in order to convince him otherwise. He had expressed his indifference to the survival or collapse of the hotel chain as long as he made his money before it collapses.
I could not convince him to become a V.A.T. certified leader but meeting him again six years later, he had a lot to say. It took him six years and a terrible loss to arrive at the same point I had introduced him to six years earlier. According to him, two years after our first meeting, someone had run into the hotel to ask for help from the hotel for its bus to be used to convey a woman that had just been involved in an accident to the hospital because there was a strike action and vehicles were not readily available. Even though the woman was struck down right in front of the hotel, Charles never bothered to offer any help and even made another shameful statement, “we are here to make money not to run an ambulance service”.
After much futile pleading, the good Samaritans finally gave up and left the woman at the spot of the accident. She died few minutes later; just a few feet away from the gate of the hotel. He was on his way out a few hours later when he saw and realized that his two months pregnant wife was the accident victim. He lost his wife and his unborn child just a few feet away from where he worked because he was more concerned about making money than adding value to people’s lives. That tragic event transformed him and the thought of not offering help when he could, haunted him for years. A change happened within him and led to a change in his thinking.
If your exiting a place does not create a vacuum, it means your presence there was never valuable. You don’t have a second chance to give a first impression, so do all you can to add value to your generation and become a leader with V.A.T.
A new era has started in our nation and every Nigerian has a part to play