Run your company like a Secret Cult

Updated: Aug 14

By The Oyemaja Executives, a division of The Oyemaja Group

This is not what you think. Secret cults are illegal entities in Nigeria. For instance, Lagos State's Anti-Cultism Law expressly prohibits it. Besides, secret cults in Nigeria are notorious for causing mayhem, killing and maiming. This article or organization therefore does not endorse, promote or supports cultism, no is it affiliated to any secret cult.


Take a look at successful entrepreneurs. You may immediately notice unmistakable qualities like poise, precision, confidence and the three-piece suit of foresight, zeal and doggedness.

Look again

A closer look may reveal additional qualities like a decent sense of humor; so they laugh at their mistakes rather than dwell on them.

Look beyond what you see

Oftentimes, we dwell on the external qualities and end up missing a lot of hidden details. How about we dig deeper and consider what I think are some of the most important ingredients that make an entrepreneur successful; an open heart and mind, the willingness to observe, learn and assimilate.

20,000 essentials of a successful entrepreneur by Mr John Doe

We think of learning in terms of books on leadership, countless leadership conferences and lots and lots of great motivational speakers. However, life's greatest lessons often come from the most unusual places.

Ants, for one, can provide lessons on diligence, and eagles on networking, vision and focus. In fact, quite recently, the "Portable- One Million Boys saga" got me thinking in a whole new direction.

Just how much do you think an entrepreneur can learn about running an organization from the modus operandi of secret cults?

Quite a lot! Once you could get past the dark side and barbaric playbook, you would observe that cults exemplify some principles that can be imbibed into building a successful business enterprise.

To start with, cults are typically very strategy-oriented organizations. Since their operations require lots of cover up, they target the crème de la crème of the society. How?

Building relationships over immediate gratification;

Cults do not recruit members haphazardly. Instead, they conduct due diligence and background checks. They then go the extra mile to build relationships with potential recruits before welcoming them to the cult.

Your staff is your company, not just the products. If you hire humans, you're in trouble. Animals are easier to work with than men. The wrong person on your team can be the end of your business. This is why lengthy employment contracts are handed out to employees before resuming work.

Whether your staff are working remotely or physically, you need to look out for 3 things - skills, loyalty and virtue. Every person on your team must possess these qualities to a considerable extent. A loyal but unskilled worker will cost you money. A skilled but disloyal employee will sell your trade secrets to the highest bidder. Cults know this. They go for the well-built and violent fanatics.

Hopefully, you wouldn't have to choose between the two; but if it comes down to it, pick a loyal employee. An unskilled man can be trained, but a traitor is a traitor.

Encouraging participation

When it comes to their firmly held beliefs, cult members tend to be myopic and unwavering. They have confidence in themselves as well as the goal of the organization. As such it is not uncommon for members to step out and take risks.

Drawing from these, a key to lasting success in any organization is ensuring that members are familiar with the mission and the vision of the organization. A successful businessman strives to replicate the same passion they have for their business in their employees. They create an environment that encourage members to take manageable risks.

Reward Systems

Oftentimes, there are benefits attached to bringing new members into a secret cult ( promotion fo instance.) This encourages members to give their their best.

In the same vein, having reward systems put in place in any organization to encourage productivity can be all the motivation that employees need to give their best to the growth of the organization.

Team Spirit

Cult members are usually excellent team players specifically trained to sacrifice personal preferences for a common goal. There is also a high level of loyalty among cult groups as members are bound together by oath, common goals and common enemies.

Many times, organizations, in a bid to ensure individual effectiveness, end up creating work environments that do not encourage teamwork. While individuals should be encouraged to engage in healthy competition, there should also be a strong appreciation for team work. Team bonding happens best when there is shared passion for a common goal.

Planning and Accountability

Before any 'operation', cults usually set out detailed plans that guide execution. Such plans are typically detailed and each member's role is clearly spelt out.

Dearest entrepreneur, how about breaking down your vision and mission into yearly and even quarterly goals? Remember the basic principle of goal setting (the SMART acronym)? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. The roles to be played by each and every individual should also be spelt out so as to ensure accountability.

Mentorship and Continuity

The continued existence of secret cults might just be all the proof you need that a successful business is ultimately one with a mission and vision that can be passed across generations.

Beyond cookie cutter principles and caricatures, a successful company should be able to identify core principles that reach to the very essence of the organization.

Our lives and our businesses teach us important lessons daily. Leadership is a journey of faith and resilience. Know and maintain your core principles, but be ever willing to learn and unlearn.


Oyemaja Executives.