The life of the late Dr. Anthony Norman Sabga is nothing short of a testament of hope and triumph. His journey has served to display the ability of the human spirit to persevere in the midst of crisis and setback. The story of Dr. Sabga can be utilized as an inspirational template to aspiring entrepreneurs and to leaders in various spheres of influence. While surveying the work and contribution of this Caribbean pathfinder and pioneer, one can observe ten (10) leadership secrets that have propelled him into the heights of greatness.
1. Honest Communication
When Anthony Sabga was fourteen years old he was tasked with the overwhelming responsibility of operating his father’s business. His father was ailing and had to leave the country for treatment. After his father left Trinidad, Anthony had to conduct his first meeting with their Bank manager because his father had to repay a loan that was now in Anthony’s care. With open and honest communication Sabga was able to make plausible arrangements to pay off the loan. This ability to clearly communicate an issue to come to a resolution is necessary for leadership. Brian Tracy acknowledges that if there is an issue in an organization, most leaders would like their team members to be straightforward and honest about the issue. He then asserts that if the individual, within the role of leader would like to be addressed with ‘straight talk’ the individual should address his/her team members and others with open and honest communication as well. As in the case of Anthony Sabga, his speech was not perfect, in fact he broke down in tears, but his message was clearly communicated and this gave the bank manager the ability to respond adequately. Sabga’s honesty and openness was interpreted by the bank manager as integrous — and this made a huge impact on their business relations.
2. Possession of an Obsession
When Anthony Sabga was very young, he often declined on social events because he was too busy creating things that he would sell to build his business. He was described as being intense, and passionate due to the long hours and the steady commitment he poured into establishing and expanding his business ventures. The benefit of being passionately intense is increased focus on a subject matter to the point where you become the most knowledgeable and skilled in the particular area. This is what occurred with Dr. Sabga’s life, his passionate hobby (business) which translated into an obsession has yielded him the rewards of wealth and increased wisdom in business ventures and operations.
3. A Burning Desire to Succeed
Not only did Dr. Sabga possess an intense passion for business but he also had a burning desire to succeed. According to Napoleon Hill in his timeless classic Think and Grow Rich, a burning desire is what will grant you the access to success and riches. Dr. Sabga’s biography gives insight into the driving force behind his indefatigable work ethic and diligent approach to everything he does — the desire to be successful.
4. Competent Delegation.
As Dr. Sabga traveled to other countries in search of new opportunities to add value to the Trinidadian market, he would have ensured that his business was in capable hands to secure proper management. His ability then to delegate responsibility to sustain profitability while he stimulated growth is an essential secret to his leadership success. This ability and leadership skill is especially difficult to execute in the Caribbean as many leaders would opt to micro-manage and control everything. This can possibly be an indication of lack of growth in organizations in the region, the inability to or fear of delegating. Craig Groeschel sums this up adequately as he cautions leaders, “you can either have control or have growth, but you can’t have both.
5. The Ability to Thrive in Crisis
It has been quoted frequently by public speakers, leadership consultants and trainers that the Chinese word “crisis” is also the same word for opportunity. It is interpreted to mean that that the Chinese perceive crisis a bit differently from others in various parts of the world. They believe that there are always opportunities in the midst of crisis. Great leaders know how to use crisis to their advantage. Dr. Sabga asserts that crisis stimulates him. His biographer, Philip Rochford recalls a project that was launched with partners from Ireland and New Zealand where they dropped out one day after the launch to compete against Dr. Sabga. Not only did Dr. Sabga experience an undercutting in terms of launching his project, he also had to stand strong in the midst of the looting and burning down of two of his warehouses. This did not stop Dr. Sabga as he was resilient and had relocated to a new location.
6. “Pigheaded Determination”
Chet Holmes describes “pigheaded determination” as the ability to set a goal and remain relentless in its pursuit. Linda Sabga recalls that in the midst of a conversation her father would have an idea and immediately make a call to implement the idea. She adds that he would not let go until the task was finished. He was very determined to see an idea through until it comes to fruition. It is obvious that Dr. Sabga was not one to give up until he saw the ideas that have come to him manifest in reality.
7. Focus on Legacy.
Throughout the biography of Dr. Anthony Sabga, the most important thing that is constantly highlighted is his love and commitment to his family. If he is passionate or intense about. his business it is geared at a greater “why” that underpins and sustains this passion. One can see a determination by Dr. Sabga not just to create revenues to splurge on vanity but to create a rich physical and spiritually enriching legacy for his family. In fact, it was this desire for family legacy that plunged him into business in the first instance in order to protect his father.
Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy in their book Execution highlight that most organizations do not achieve their strategic objectives because they lack the basic habits of execution. As projects meet difficult and untimely roadblocks they are abandoned and neglected due to a lack of follow-through. This ability to execute and follow-through is almost part and parcel of Anthony Sabga’s life. His daughter Linda would illustrate how this attitude and ethic is applied in his life when he would be doing a seemingly small project or where he was deriving relaxation through gardening.
9. Quality Control and Management
When Philip Rochford asked the eldest son of Dr. Sabga about the most impactful organizational concept that his father had taught him, he responded, “If you can’t control and manage an operation, you will not be successful in that operation.” What Dr. Sabga was alluding to is the ability to create consistency and predictability so that the venture would be sustainable in and through times of change and expansion. This example of disciplined thinking is what has caused ANSA McAL to become one of the largest conglomerates in the Caribbean with assets valued over 1.5 billion.
10. Value Adding Decision Making.
Jim Rohn once told his protégé Tony Robbins, if you want to be successful, go out and discover how people are adding value to others through their products and services and create ways to add more value to them. Dr. Anthony Sabga was all about adding value to the customer. There was a scenario that occurred one Christmas where customers ordered fridges and the shipment was expected to arrive on time for the Christmas season so that the people would be able to store their food items. When Sabga discovered that there was a delay in the shipment, he decided to give the fridges in his warehouse that had been traded in, to the customers who ordered fridges until their ordered fridges arrived — at no cost. Such decisions have added to Sabga’s reputation, credibility and brand loyalty
Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, Les Brown and many other speakers and trainers argue that success is not a mystery it is a matter of cause and effect. Therefore, if you do what successful people do you will become successful. Similarly, if leaders carefully study and model after the legacy left by Dr. Sabga, they too can become tremendously successful leaders.