Articles Tagged Leadership

Dec 06, 2020
Let’s record the heroes of the global pandemic

When there’s a crisis on, sometimes you just have to laugh out loud.  The best cartoon I have seen depicting the pandemic situation (by Arghxsel) showed a hungry wolf facing a herd of sheep, and looking perplexed. “You know that I am a wolf,” he asks the sheep. “Why won’t you run away?” Because “there […]

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Nov 29, 2020
Stand up to be counted during this global crisis

There’s a global pandemic on, for crying out loud. I say this because some of us seem not to understand the gravity of the situation. Some of us seem to regard this thing as a minor irritation, a temporary encumbrance, to be ignored or wished away, so that something called “business as usual” can continue. […]

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Nov 08, 2020
Is your board stuck in yesterday’s successes?

Have you heard of Nokia? Had I asked that in 2010 it would have been an impertinent question. At the time Nokia was the dominant global mobile phone company. In my seminars of those days, perhaps nine in 10 of those present would be sporting a Nokia device. Today, asking if you know Nokia is […]

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Sep 06, 2020
How the virus masked and unmasked us

Face-masks? Who apart from a few knew about them before 2020? Now they are a daily necessity, a wardrobe item. Most of us may think we never put on a mask before this pandemic, but actually we did. I refer not to the triple-layer protection we now sport, but to the masks humans wear by […]

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Aug 23, 2020
How good is your team? Here’s a different way of looking at it

FCB vs FCB was supposed to be one of the interesting matchups in football this year. FC Bayern duly faced off against FC Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League recently. It ended in a debacle. The Germans took the Catalans apart, beating them 8-2 – an unheard-of scoreline in the upper echelons […]

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Jul 05, 2020
Meet a leader truly focused on others

By December 2019 I was pretty sure I would be writing this particular column in May 2020. Then a certain virus arrived… Jürgen Klopp just took Liverpool Football Club to its first English Premier League (EPL) title for 30 years. Anyone interested in leadership should take a close look at the unique qualities this particular […]

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Apr 05, 2020
This problem is everyone’s problem

We are, all of us in the world, deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some more than others, though. Consider a first group. The members of this small but privileged category fled to safety once the dangers of the coronavirus were clear. They were the first to work from home, because they can. They have […]

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Mar 29, 2020
Now more than ever: the steering wheel must connect to the tyres

More than a decade ago I asked on this page: is Kenya’s steering wheel connected to its tyres? The imagery is half-comical: of leaders merrily spinning the steering wheel thinking they are driving the car; the vehicle, meanwhile, goes where it wants. The issue was very serious, though; I raised it in the light of […]

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Mar 22, 2020
This pandemic will expose the true character of leaders

A leader’s true character is only revealed during a crisis. A lot of people are now discovering this essential truth of leadership. Good times don’t tell you much about the leader. If the economy is buoyant and times are normal and markets are free and institutions are strong, who leads doesn’t matter a whole lot. […]

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Mar 15, 2020
Three reflections on the coronavirus

The coronavirus has upended the world. A few tiny dudus that seem to have emerged from a market in China have taken over our daily discourse. One country (Italy) is in complete lockdown; many others will have to follow. Wherever you look, airports are empty; airplanes are grounded; hotels, malls, stadia and public squares are […]

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Mar 08, 2020
Respect those who listen, not those who bluster

Like many of you reading this, I grew up in the tumult of a large extended family. The social milieu was complicated; many uncles and aunts and cousins and family friends were always milling around. Many diverse opinions on pretty much anything under the sun were on offer, all the time. I was a quiet, […]

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Dec 22, 2019
Those who lead for the few cause perpetual turmoil

Every so often you have to look at the world around you and wonder what on earth is wrong with human beings. There seems to be turmoil everywhere. Massive public demonstrations, often turning violent, are occurring in every corner. Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, Spain, Iran, Iraq, India, Thailand – is that a long […]

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Dec 01, 2019
Are you working on anything that will outlast you?

A question for you: do you remember something called the ‘Zune’? Not really, I guess. Another question: do you remember something called the ‘iPod’? Of course you do. Both were MP3 music players. Here’s the thing, though. The Zune, made by Microsoft, was the far superior product, in most respects. And yet it failed miserably […]

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Sep 15, 2019
Why do people keep selecting bad leaders?

Let me tell you about a certain country. A century ago, this country was regarded as one of the most promising of the future. It was richly endowed with a very diverse trove of natural resources, and had a GDP per capita higher than that of France or Germany. It attracted immigrants from far and […]

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Jun 23, 2019
Is your organization doing stuff the exact same way?

Image by Alexander Antropov from Pixabay We are a major bank. We are holding our annual general meeting with shareholders. We need some good photos. What should we do? I know, why don’t we take one of the chairperson, CEO and a shareholder all pretending to point to something in the annual report? Excellent idea. […]

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Apr 21, 2019
So you sacked a manager. So what?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Last December, José Mourinho was sacked as manager of Manchester United, one of the world’s richest and most trophy-laden football clubs. His firing was almost universally welcomed by United’s faithful fans. A caretaker replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was appointed in his place quickly. He has since gone on to […]

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Mar 10, 2019
Just been promoted? Now stop dealing in excuses

Adam Lashinsky once provided an interesting little vignette about Steve Jobs. According to the reporter, Apple’s founding CEO used to give employees a little speech when they were promoted to Vice President. Lashinsky called it the ‘Difference Between the Janitor and the Vice President.’ Jobs told new VPs that if the garbage in his office […]

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Jan 20, 2019
Here’s to the mavericks who light up organizations

I don’t often do obituaries in this column. And certainly not of chief executives. But exceptions have to be made. Herb Kelleher, cofounder of Southwest Airlines, was indeed special. I have talked about him and his remarkable company many times in seminars and lectures. Now he’s gone, and those who love to see business (or […]

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Dec 23, 2018
If you love bookshops, buy from them

When I was a young boy, I would regularly gather my pocket money and take a bus into Nairobi’s central district to buy books. My perambulations would begin at the famous second-hand shop, Toddlers Bazaar, just off Koinange Street. This ever-busy shop was a prime place to find unusual, affordable novels. From there I would […]

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Dec 02, 2018
Generating the will to win is more important than buying top talent

Photo by Margarida CSilva on Unsplash I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in boardrooms and heard the assembled say they are engaged in a “war for talent.” The gist is as follows: talented people drive results. We must have the best talent in this company. Top talent is scarce. Top talent […]

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Oct 28, 2018
When was the last time you heard your employees laugh?

Fear at work is a good thing, right? If employees are not afraid of you, they will just take advantage of you, no? They’ll slack off work, they’ll run side hustles using your time and resources, they’ll even steal from you – correct? A question, though: many business bosses have been making their employees feel […]

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Sep 30, 2018
No, visionaries don’t have to be jerks

Elon Musk is widely recognized as a visionary. He cofounded PayPal and then moved on to a dizzying range of businesses: electric vehicles, energy generation, machine interfacing, even space travel. His aim always is to completely revolutionize every industry he turns his hand to. None of the new ventures is a concrete success just yet; […]

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Sep 16, 2018
To be really successful? Say NO

I’m about to write something down that may be one of the most important things you will ever read. It was said by Warren Buffet, and here it is: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” If that sentence immediately made perfect sense […]

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Jul 29, 2018
The taxi driver with advice for presidents and prime ministers

Kamran is a taxi driver in Dubai. I met him on a recent trip and found him a little different from the norm. Despite doing a difficult and demanding job, and one that does not offer the best reward, he stays upbeat and positive. So much so that I engaged him exclusively on a daily […]

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Jul 15, 2018
My 800th Sunday column: the importance of writing well

This column records my 800th appearance on this page. It’s been a great ride, for more than 15 years now. I thought I should commemorate the milestone by focusing on something that seems to be losing its importance in the modern world: good writing. By this I mean good writing coming from you. We all […]

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May 20, 2018
All that rain, and yet no water

An observant visitor to Nairobi over the past few weeks would have noted an interesting paradox: it has rained and rained and rained and then rained some more in the capital city; and yet the metropolis remains locked in water rationing, quite severely in some areas. If this was your visitor, how would you explain […]

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May 13, 2018
Hail the monomaniacs!

Photo credit: EPA Pep Guardiola lifted the English Premier League trophy last Sunday on behalf of the club he manages, Manchester City. I think we should all applaud, regardless of team affiliation. For me, the most interesting part of Pep’s season came during a game in November. He began berating a player who just been […]

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Mar 18, 2018
Are you succeeding, or just looking like you’re succeeding?

When Jeffrey Immelt, long-time boss of giant conglomerate GE, held his annual address to investors last May his corporation’s stock was trading at close to $30. He painted a rosy picture of his long tenure, and retired as CEO soon afterwards. Today the stock price is around $15. His successor decided to bare all and […]

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