Let Passion, Not Profit, Drive Your Corporate Decisions
Keli Gadzekpo is a towering presence in the Ghanaian corporate landscape. Undoubtedly, he is one of the finest business leaders in Ghana today. Keli is noted for co-founding Databank but now heads the Enterprise Group Limited (EGL).
Keli’s calm, diplomatic and down-to-earth approach to life and his career is easily reflected in the way he relates with his peers, employees, and anybody he comes into contact with. He is widely respected for his professionalism and demeanour.
His persona makes him the perfect front man for the Enterprise Group with its array of accomplished companies and leaders. For someone so accomplished, he is quick to dispel any suggestions of extraordinary achievement.
"I try to let as many people as possible who come close to realise that I am not made of any unique or special standard that others are not. I understand that I have been given a bit more than others and so I assume therefore that my level of responsibility is also a bit more than others," Mr Gadzekpo said on the Springboard, the Virtual University, on Joy FM.
He made the comments as the fourth corporate executive and guest of the Virtual University's series, the Leaders' Digest, which creates the platform for distinguished business leaders to share their life lessons and personal values with the listeners of the programme which is broadcast live every Sunday between 7pm and 8pm.
The programme is hosted by Reverend Albert Ocran of Legacy & Legacy, a management consultancy firm in Accra, and would run till November within which renowned leaders, heads of institutions would share with listeners the secrets of their success, their values and their lessons.
Mr. Gadzekpo mentioned enjoyment, which he defined as passion for his work, being truthful and faith in God as the three core values that he upholds dearly in his life.
Regarding his passion for his work, he said: "I like to enjoy what I am doing because I found out over time that the more I enjoy what I am doing, the less tired l become, and I see in there the principle of hard work.”
On his faith in God, Mr Gadzekpo said, "the older I get, the clearer it is to me that we do not really control as much as we think and that there is a bigger and better power somewhere that does the controlling, and we fall in place."
"I also try to be truthful as possible. I am not saying that I am perfect but I have recognised that even in the most difficult of circumstances, it is better to take your knocks upfront otherwise you spin yourself into all manner of things that you never intended to," he added.
Once these values are properly situated and applied, the Enterprise Group CEO said financial rewards would automatically follow.
"As for financial rewards, they are almost like an outcome. If you get these building blocks properly situated, the financial rewards will follow. To do something profitably means to do it well and get your bits in the key path," he explained.
Mr Gadzekpo's entry into the accounting profession, a field in which he has excelled overtime, was not his original childhood dream; it was inspired by one of his uncles, whose lifestyle in his childhood days influenced him to choose his career path.
His uncle, he said, adds to the circle of treasured people, including family members, who have now become reference points in his life. "People like my father, my partner - Ken Ofori-Atta - and my siblings are people who are my bedrock because they share their experiences, advice me and have an influence on me," he said, explaining that he does not have a particular individual who he can single out as mentor.
In all this, Mr Gadzekpo said he has learnt to give credit where it is due. "Not giving due regard for other people’s contributions is extremely unfair, it tends to demoralise and speaks of a certain level of disrespect for other people's contributions. So, in a group setting, I tend to be a bit hard on people who do not recognise the contributions of others. I think that everyone has a contribution to make and it is only your judgment that makes you think that someone's contribution is not as good as yours," explained.
Greatest Fear And Source of Fulfilment
Mr Gadzekpo's expertise straddles from the capital market to financial engineering, corporate governance and leadership. Although he has been a leader in the larger part of his life, starting with his days at KPMG, Steaut Petroleum, Databank and now EGL, he stressed that nothing bothers him as much as the spectre of not being able to make meaningful impact in other people's lives.
As a result, he said he finds joy in adding value to others. "My greatest fulfilment is when I am able to make an improvement to a situation or positively affect someone's life. I must confess that I have had a fairly glorious life and for me to impact circumstances and help others, gives me a lot of fulfilment," he explained.
He also advised that people should learn from their circumstances no matter how difficult they are and apply the lessons thereof.
Asked to contribute to a compilation of the 31 Greatest Lessons of the World Best CEOs, Mr Gadzekpo said, "the greatest CEOs in the world enjoy what they do and literally immerse themselves in it. Enjoyment of your work is key to business success," he added. GB
10 ‘Commandments’ of Keli Gadzekpo
- In my ideal world, we should be each other’s keeper.
- I believe in making a contribution and impacting others. I understand that I have a higher level of responsibility than others because I have been given more opportunities.
- My three core values are enjoyment, truthfulness and faith in God.
- My concept of enjoyment encompasses excellence, passion and other attributes. Enjoying what you do provides perspective and makes you get out of bed and go to work. Enjoyment makes it worth your while to sacrifice.
- Being truthful to yourself and taking the knocks upfront ensures that you do not abdicate responsibility.
- Faith in God is accepting the truth that there are things beyond your sphere of influence.
- It is important to forgive others because forgiveness is necessary for personal growth.
- I take exception to people who do not give credit to others for their contributions.
- Every leader must have an unchangeable and unshakable set of core principles.
- My greatest fear is that of not being able to make impact.