João Figueiredo, chairman and CEO of Único Bank in Mozambique, has recently been named the African Banker of the Year at the African Banker Awards, which took place at the end of May in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Having only established Único in August 2011, Figueiredo has since grown the bank to become the sixth biggest bank in Mozambique, with 13 branches across the country and further plans to expand their presence in all Mozambican provinces. The universal services bank, with a strong focus on retail banking, has caught the attention of South Africa’s Nedbank who is in the process of finalising an acquisition of a 36.4% stake in Único for US$24.4 million.
Before establishing Único Bank, Figueiredo was the CEO of Banco Internacional de Moçambique, rebranded Millennium bim, for over nine years. How we made it in Africa decided to speak to Figueiredo to find out more about the skills and qualities that a successful manger should have when leading a company. Here is what he had to say:
1. Lead by example
“A leader is somebody that should perform, himself, in such a way that can be followed by others,” explained Figueiredo. “You have to lead by example; you have to lead showing others what you want them to do, [by] doing [it] yourself. You have to lead, being the first one to keep motivated in your work. Work hard, work with passion, work, you know, with love for what you are doing – showing by example what you need from people, and creating a teamwork philosophy.”
2. Have a strategic vision
According to Figueiredo, a good manager should have a strategic vision for their company and employees. He said that you have to understand how each decision made will impact the future of the company and “not just working for the day after or for tomorrow, but you are working for the medium/long term”.
3. Know all the elements of your organisation
In order to have a strategic vision and properly manage others, Figueiredo said that you have to know your company inside and out. “You have to understand – very well – your organisation, all involvement around your institution, in such a way that you can understand all key factors that influence your company.”
He added that a good manager should be a controller who can position themselves according to the new inputs that they receive from their environment. “So [being a] controller is something that you should have in your skills.”
4. Create a happy work environment
“You spend more time in your life working than at home,” said Figueiredo. “So, if that is the case, you need to be happy… if I can [sum up] in one word how people should feel when they go to work, [I would say that] they should feel happy.”
He explained that it is important for employees, and managers, to feel content with the work they are doing and their job purpose within the company.
“So, for me, I try to create this kind of environment in my bank,” he continued. “I try to create this environment with my staff. I try to motivate people [in] being a team together.”
5. Be a trainer
“Last but not least, you should be a trainer,” he said. “A good manager is always a trainer; is somebody that coaches his staff.”
Figueiredo added that he tries every day to train his staff to perform tasks better in the future than he can in the present.