Leadership is often put to test during times of crisis. Nigeria, like the rest of the world, has witnessed its fair share of economic downturns, political instability, and global pandemics. Successful CEOs have been instrumental in steering their companies through these challenges, emerging stronger and more resilient. In this post, we will delve into the strategies employed by some notable CEOs and extract valuable lessons that can inspire and guide aspiring leaders in Nigeria.

  • Adaptability and Agility

One of the most striking qualities of effective CEOs during crises is their adaptability. Take, for instance, Aliko Dangote, the CEO of the Dangote Group, who successfully navigated his conglomerate through various economic crises. Dangote’s ability to pivot and diversify his business interests from manufacturing to telecommunications and agriculture played a pivotal role in his company’s resilience.

Lesson: Nigerian CEOs should embrace adaptability and agility. The ability to pivot and diversify can help companies weather storms and explore new opportunities.

  • Clear Communication

Communication is key in times of crisis, and Nigerian CEOs can learn from the masterful communication skills of leaders like Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings. Elumelu’s transparent communication with stakeholders and employees during the 2008 global financial crisis helped maintain trust and confidence in his company.

Lesson: Open and honest communication builds trust and credibility. Nigerian CEOs should prioritize transparent communication to keep their teams and stakeholders informed.

  • Innovation and Technology Adoption

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CEOs like Juliet Anammah of Jumia Nigeria, demonstrated the power of innovation and technology. Jumia, an e-commerce platform, thrived as more Nigerians turned to online shopping. Anammah’s foresight in investing in e-commerce technology paid off handsomely.

Lesson: Embrace innovation and technology to stay relevant. Nigerian CEOs should explore digital solutions that align with changing consumer behaviors.

  • People-Centric Leadership

Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank, exemplifies people-centric leadership. During the economic downturn, he focused on employee welfare, providing training, and encouraging innovation. This approach helped Access Bank maintain a motivated and engaged workforce.

Lesson: Employees are a company’s greatest asset. Nigerian CEOs should prioritize their well-being and development to ensure long-term success.

  • Risk Management and Contingency Planning

Chidi Ajaere, the CEO of GIG Group, emphasizes on the importance of risk management and contingency planning. His transportation company successfully navigated fuel price hikes and logistical challenges through robust risk mitigation strategies.

Lesson: Nigerian CEOs should invest in risk management and contingency plans to anticipate and mitigate potential crises.

  1. Community Engagement and Social Responsibility

Finally, successful CEOs in Nigeria, like Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank, have recognized the importance of community engagement and social responsibility. Zenith Bank’s commitment to various social causes during the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced its positive reputation.

Lesson: Building strong community ties and contributing to social causes can enhance a company’s image and long-term success.


In times of crisis, effective leadership can be the difference between a company’s survival and its demise. Nigerian CEOs can draw inspiration from the experiences and strategies of successful leaders like Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Juliet Anammah, Herbert Wigwe, Chidi Ajaere, and Jim Ovia. By embracing adaptability, clear communication, innovation, people-centric leadership, risk management, and social responsibility, Nigerian CEOs can navigate their companies through turbulent times and emerge stronger and more resilient. Leadership in times of crisis is not just about managing problems but seizing opportunities to transform challenges into triumphs.

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