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E77 Change Is The Only Constant with Dele Ola

Tagline

Just and fair: A Nigerian change leader talks about what justice looks like in the corporate world.

Bio for Dele Ola

Dr. Dele Ola is Director, Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing, Red River College Polytechnic. He is also the award-winning author of Be a Change Agent: Leadership in a Time of Exponential Change, publisher of the Prowezz Leadership Newsletter, a change leader, and an accomplished professional engineer.

His passions include corporate leadership, personal growth, skills development, and technological innovation. He started his leadership journey with Accenture, a global Fortune 500 company before earning his Doctor of Philosophy in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from the University of Manitoba.

He has held many leadership positions and served on the board of several prominent organizations. He won the 2016 Research Excellence BRAVO Award, and continues to lead change in his work. His vision is to develop change agents to challenge the status quo, take charge of the future, and evolve into what they are meant to be in life.

He moved from Nigeria to Canada 14 years ago, and took some more education here to continue working as an engineer. In his free time, Dele enjoys reading, writing and cooking. He lives with his wife, a Quality Assistant Manager, and his 2 children – 14 year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, in Winnipeg.

Episode highlight

Facing childhood survival challenges during a time of turmoil in Nigeria and later in college helped Dele Ola deepen his focus on the end goal while maintaining an attitude of hope and remaining patient until he achieved his desire.

Links

Quotes

  • “Being able to survive even when you don’t have everything you need, I think it’s quite important.”
  • “It doesn’t matter if I fail… 500 times, I will still get up and try again.”
  • “I know there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
  • “One thing I am committed to now for the rest of my life, is to make sure I’m responsible for constructing my own experience, style, leadership and the outcomes of my life and I want to base that on knowledge.”
  • “Everyone is responsible for constructing the outcomes of their lives when they are mature.”
  • “Anyone with emotional intelligence would understand that you are in charge. Nobody makes anyone do anything. Everybody is an architect of their own destiny.”
  • “People can always learn when they are open.”

Takeaways

Childhood Incidents

Dele grew up in a conservative Christian household to educated middle-class parents who taught him the values of dignity of hard work, integrity, truthfulness and faith, which helped him survive in difficult situations and shaped who he is today.

He was a teenager during the time of political turmoil in Nigeria, when his parents did not get their salaries for 7 months. Going through that time gave him discipline and taught him to hope. It also made him resilient and brave, which helped him through university.

Influential groups

Dele grew up in a city in Nigeria which is part of Yorubaland, and he is proud of his native Yoruba ancestry from Southwest Nigeria. The Yoruba are progressive, forward-thinking people who embrace other cultures, but have their own culture of respect and hard work, and other traditions.

His religious background has influenced his leadership style, with the servant leader exemplified in Jesus Christ who said, “whoever wants to be the leader should be the servant of all”. He claims Christinaity is the only religion where the followers are commanded to love the enemy.

As a professional, he belongs to many intellectual groups, from whom he has learnt to conduct research.

Temperament and Personality Influences

Dele was told as a child that he was introverted, but he thinks of himself as living on the edge of introversion and extroversion. He can be outspoken and network when he needs to but isn’t always out there connecting. He also thinks of himself as a realistic optimist.

The personality he has developed is that he approaches his work with a reasonable, systematic and clear lens. He also values merit-based work and relationships based on respect. He values justice greatly and looks to make processes just and fair.

Cultural Epiphanies

When Dele moved to Canada from Nigeria, realizing that Canadians are not as direct and confrontational as Nigerians was an eye-opening moment for him. He noticed this when the students in a leadership class he was teaching in Canada expressed the desire to be bold.

Advice to an Employer

Dele likes to work in a place where merit, contribution, knowledge and effort are appreciated. “If you put me in an environment where hard work is rewarded, where there is reward for competence, I think I am going to thrive very well there”, he shares. He also welcomes disagreement and openness.

More Great Insights!

Dele’s company, Prowezz Leadership, is offering Quality 101 training in Canada. Visit his website to learn more and read his two books!

Extro

Dele Ola is a man of determination, grit, and vision. His focus and patience are only matched by his drive to achieve as evidenced by his many academic, business, research and authorship accomplishments.

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