FEMI Adeshina was appointed the new Managing Director of Sun Newspapers in December 2013. In an exclusive chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the humble and cheerful Editor-in-Chief of Sun shared with us his success secrets and leadership style.
Congratulations on your appointment as MD of Sun Newspapers?
How do you feel about it?
Naturally, when this kind of thing happens, you feel elated. I would say I am elated and I give all the glory to God.
What was your reaction when the appointment came?
We were at the company’s board meeting on December 17, 2013, and while we were looking at the figures, the chairman then said the then MD may have to retire so that fresh energy can be injected. He said I should take over as his deputy. I felt good and elated. The first thing I did was to give God all the glory and thanked the members of the board, especially the chairman. It’s a rare thing in Nigeria where ethnic consideration comes first in most decisions. He does not consider ethnicity but looks at who can add value to his organization.
You have climbed all the rungs of the ladder to the top in the industry, what’s the secret?
There is no success beyond God. He told Joshua that this Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth. You shall meditate therein and out of it shall you have good success. That means good success can’t come without God. Another factor is dedication to the work. This is my 28th year in the industry. And from day one, I have applied myself to the work. It’s a job I love. Work is the number one thing on my mind. When there is work, I always do it. And God blesses it. To be a successful journalist, you need to improve yourself. If your writing style has not changed for the past 10 years, your readers will get tired of you. You have to keep re-inventing your expression. You should renew yourself constantly. You should renew your skills, abilities and language power. Another success factor is networking. You meet quality people nationally and internationally who would influence your life. I read a lot. It enriches your word power. These are the factors that contribute to your success in this industry.
What’s your plan and how do you intend taking this organization to the next level?
By the grace of God when it’s December when I would have been MD for one year, I want to see circulation risen, bottom line in terms of profit having risen, and a more literate paper. When I left the editor’s seat, one thing I felt I had not accomplished was to clean up the paper in terms of errors. And some of those errors are still there. As Editor-in-Chief, that is going to be my priority. I want it to be a reference point whereby they say to improve your English get the SUN.
How will you describe your leadership style?
When I was at the Lagos State Business School, they taught us so many leadership styles. But my favourite is called eyes on, hands off. I keep an eye on everything but I don’t interfere with my managers. I leave them to do the job. It’s their duty but I keep an eye on them. When people have responsibility, I leave them to carry it out. It is only when they are failing, that I get on board. I love to delegate. I am not the kind of leader that wants to do everything by myself.
How do you intend to cope as MD of Sun and president of Nigerian Guild of Editors?
They complement each other. As president of Guild of Editors, I give leadership that is respectable. When you are also MD of a paper that is doing well, you can’t lose your position as president of the guild to some selfish interest. Thus, as president of NGE, I am rendering a service and the legacy I would love to leave behind is building a secretariat.
What is the story behind your glory?
For me, the story has been that I have climbed every rungs of the ladder. I didn’t attain this position by sudden flight. Every position from reporter to staff writer, senior writer, deputy feature editor, features editor, deputy editor, editor, director of publication, deputy chief editor and now to Editor-in-Chief. I climbed every rung and did not skip any step. I have paid my dues. And I would say God has been faithful to me.
– FEMI OYEWALE