Articles Tagged Leadership

Sep 21, 2009
New leaders: Beware the “Pumbavu Effect”

“Consider the “cookie experiment” reported by the psychologists Dacher Keltner, Deborah H. Gruenfeld, and Cameron Anderson in 2003. In this study, teams of three students each were instructed to produce a short policy paper. Two members of each team were randomly assigned to write the paper. The third member evaluated it and determined how much […]

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Aug 27, 2009
Would you want to be on the same leadership programme as Julius Kipng’etich and James Mwangi?

Those are just two of the current and previous participants in Fast Forward, along with Linus Gitahi, Jane Karuku, Zeph Mbugua, Norah Odwesso, Frank Ireri, Winnie Ouko, Polycarp Igathe, Jeenal Shah, Martin Miruka, Karim Anjarwalla and many more. The intake for Fast Forward 2010 is now open. FFWD is the region’s most talked-about leadership development […]

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Aug 16, 2009
Until we clean up our act, the lectures will keep coming

This has been a time of being lectured and hectored by foreigners, and not many of our leaders liked it. Prime Minister Raila Odinga took umbrage at the tone and message of the American ambassador at the opening of the AGOA conference last week. He said, in no uncertain terms, that Kenya does not need […]

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Aug 10, 2009
Are you making a mess of succession planning?

“Despite everyone knowing that nothing stays still, there are countless examples of no natural successor being in place for when the time comes, especially when the leader has an air of invincibility. Most potential successors will not hang around long if they do not feel there is any chance of the boss moving on. Consequently, […]

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Jul 27, 2009
CEOs: Is red tape killing your employees’ initiative?

“…Today, no meeting of the high and the mighty is complete until someone polishes the conventional wisdom: “Our big trouble today is getting enough good people.” This is crystal-clear nonsense. Your people aren’t lazy and incompetent. They just look that way. They’re beaten by all the overlapping and interlocking policies, rules, and systems encrusting your […]

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Jul 19, 2009
Obama only saying what we know to be true

“No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to […]

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Jun 21, 2009
Let’s pamper our MPs even more…

There seems to be a bit of noise in the country about the proposal to build a walkway connecting Parliament Building, Continental House and County Hall at a proposed cost of Sh 61 million. This is to allow our members of parliament to cross the road with ease as they walk between their primary workplaces. […]

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Jun 15, 2009
Did your CEO just win an award? Start worrying…

“Team titles might be what matter to them most, but football fans are also generally pleased if a player in their team wins an award. Publishers rarely object when their authors win Booker or Nobel prizes for literature. So how should shareholders in a company feel when the company’s chief executive wins an accolade such […]

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Jun 07, 2009
When Paul Kagame rode into town

I saw last week that it is possible to begin a day in exasperation and end it in exhilaration. I was travelling to Mombasa to attend a board meeting, and found an inexplicable traffic jam near the Nyayo Stadium. I had allowed enough time for Nairobi’s absurd traffic problems, but this was a little more […]

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May 11, 2009
Is flattering your boss a good career strategy?

“Whether it’s called buttering up the boss, brown-nosing, sucking up or managing up, experts say ingratiating behaviour is bound to be on the rise in the workplace as workers fret about keeping their jobs in tough economic times. But such behaviour can be bad for business, they said. “People who tend to ‘manage up’ anyway […]

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Apr 20, 2009
Joining a board of directors should be taken very seriously

“Coote got me in as a director of something or other. Very good business for me – nothing to do except go down into the City once or twice a year to one of those hotel places – Cannon Street or Liverpool Street – and sit around a table where they have some very nice […]

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Apr 19, 2009
What’s our real problem – leaders or followers?

There is a prominent new sign on Nairobi’s Uhuru Highway, just after the University Way roundabout. It says: “No stopping for buses and matatus”. Rightly so: it is very dangerous for vehicles to stop on a busy fast-moving highway – the chances of a pile-up are big. And guess what? That is exactly where buses […]

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Apr 13, 2009
Authenticity is the hallmark of true leadership

“P&G’s unbroken sales and profit growth under (AG) Lafley has brought great rewards to his investors and to him. He was paid $23.5m last year, with $6.6m in cash, and he holds a huge amount in P&G stock. Yet there are no discernible trappings of wealth on his person or hint of hubris in his […]

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Mar 23, 2009
What your board should do in a downturn

“During the bursting of the tech bubble, our management developed a set of principles, or objectives, which would guide it through the downturn, however long and deep that might be. The principles are probably somewhat generic, but perhaps could be tuned for each situation. Our principles were: “We will attempt to remain cash flow neutral […]

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Mar 22, 2009
Why the future lies with women

“Behind every successful man is a woman” is the well-known saying. Noted wit Groucho Marx added some words to this: “Behind every successful man is a woman; behind her is his wife.” That certainly rings true in Kenya… But I would like to disagree with the original statement. I think it should say: “In front […]

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Mar 09, 2009
Do corporate awards really mean anything?

“At the end of 2007, Marks & Spencer was lauded as Britain’s Most Admired Company, ranked as the best among 220 companies in a survey conducted by Management Today. Not only did it receive the highest score overall, Marks & Sparks was rated best on five of the nine survey categories… Marks and Spencer’s triumph […]

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Feb 16, 2009
Chelsea FC: Lessons in how not to recruit leaders

“Chelsea have sensationally sacked manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. The club’s website revealed the dramatic move had been made “to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for”. World Cup winner Scolari had only been in the job since June 2008, when he became Chelsea’s third boss in a year. Chelsea are fourth […]

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Jan 28, 2009
The Challenge of Leadership – a talk at the University of Nairobi, Friday 30 January

AIESEC Nairobi is holding a Youth Leadership Forum at the University of Nairobi on Friday 30 January. I will be speaking on “The Challenge of Leadership” from 1.30 – 2.30 pm. The venue is the Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library, at the Exhibition Hall. All are welcome, entry is free. I hope to see you there. […]

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Jan 26, 2009
The Obama speech: the power of words

“We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of […]

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Jan 25, 2009
Like Obama, we must remake our country

After watching America’s presidential inauguration this week, I wanted to cry. Not because I was overjoyed, although I was. No, the tears, had they come, would have been of sheer frustration, summarised in one thought: will I ever see such a person take charge in my own country? Barack Obama, I have stated here many […]

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Jan 05, 2009
In 2009, become a ‘Head-Up’ leader, not a ‘Head-Down’ one

“Each morning you start with a clean sheet of paper, the hours ahead of you are opportunities to grow – to do something better, to develop your ideas further, to improve your own capabilities, or to grow your business faster. Every activity, every meeting, every decision is an exciting opportunity. Somehow, it doesn’t often feel […]

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Dec 15, 2008
Leaders must walk their talk – or lose their followers

“To trust a leader, it is not necessary to like him. Nor is it necessary to agree with him. Trust is the conviction that the leader means what he says. It is a belief in something very old-fashioned, called “integrity”. A leader’s actions and a leader’s professed beliefs must be congruent, or at least compatible. […]

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Nov 16, 2008
Obama: Can we all grow up, please?

Last week we all flew high on the Barack Obama victory in the US presidential race. This week, we need to make a hard landing. For the nonsense that is being spouted from all corners about what this win means for Kenya is not only irritating, but is now giving cause to worry. If some […]

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Nov 09, 2008
Obama’s victory could change the world

I am feeling rather emotional as I write this, on the morning when Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States of America. This is my 300th article for the Sunday Nation, and the milestone could not have come at a better moment. So you will forgive me if I stray from the […]

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Nov 07, 2008
CEOS, watch out: your staff could kill you…

“A chief executive was beaten to death as he tried to pacify a group of workers sacked from his manufacturing plant, Indian police said today. Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, bled to death inside the car parts factory yesterday after being attacked by more than 130 men. Police have arrested 63 former employees of Graziano Transmissioni […]

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Oct 31, 2008
In a crisis – do nothing!

“For many of us, it’s decision time. What do we do with our investments? Do we sell our stocks? Rethink our retirement? With the warning lights flashing, our natural instinct is to react. But that very moment, when the need to make a decision feels strongest, might very well be the time to do nothing […]

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Oct 26, 2008
Fast Forward 2009 – Leadership Unusual

The 2009 intake for my private leadership development programme, Fast Forward, is now open. Fast Forward takes 20 or so current and future leaders every year and puts them through a varied programme of learning and dialogue to develop WISDOM in leadership. What is the measure of leadership? What is the relationship between leader and […]

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Oct 12, 2008
Leaders who can’t keep lust zipped up

I recently had the misfortune to witness one of the more cringe-worthy scenes I have encountered on television in the recent past. Asif Ali Zardari is the newly elected president of Pakistan. He has no previous experience of international statesmanship, having been previously famous only for being the husband of a famous wife, Benazir Bhutto […]

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