Articles Tagged Leadership

Oct 05, 2008
What the VIP lift says about leadership

If you walk into one of the many government-owned high-rise buildings in Nairobi, or one that houses government bodies, you will notice a strange phenomenon: the VIP Lift. This is, quite simply, an elevator reserved only for Very Important People; or, sometimes, only for one Very Important Person. Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice-Presidents of course […]

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Aug 08, 2008
What every leader must know about communication

“…Mr (Gordon) Brown’s most damaging flaw: he is a lousy communicator. A failing in any leader, for Mr Brown this weakness has proved catastrophic…Sadly (for him and for Labour), Mr Brown has a bad habit even more damaging than saying impossible things: saying nothing at all, often at excruciating length…Beyond the universal if dispiriting fact […]

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May 18, 2008
Leadership begins at home

Business leaders have been asking a question repeatedly since January 2008: “What am I going to do with my staff? After all the ethnic strife and bloodshed, some of them don’t want to sit with each other on the same table. There is mistrust and acrimony in the air, all over my company. All that […]

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Apr 25, 2008
Does experience matter in leadership? Not much!

“Most of us accept the common-sense notion that experience is a valuable, even necessary, component for effective leadership. Voters, for instance, tend to believe that the jobs of U.S. senator or state governor prepare individuals to be effective U.S. presidents. Similarly, organizations buy into this notion when they carefully screen outside candidates for senior management […]

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Apr 06, 2008
The madness of expanding the cabinet

It is utterly amazing that we were even discussing 44 cabinet positions. Not even a superpower needs that many ministers in government, let alone a tin-pot country like ours. What do all these ministries cost us to have? Quite a bit, by all accounts. There are around 16 ‘super-ministries’: those with huge staff complements; complex, […]

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Mar 30, 2008
What does it take for a Kenyan leader to resign?

In 2005, I asked in this column whether the Kenyan National Examinations Council knew how to spell U-N-F-O-R-G-I-V-A-B-L-E. No-one took the hint. The Council was forgiven its sins, and it proceeded to keep on sinning. What happened in 2005? The students who were sitting the KCSE Mathematics paper that year were subjected to something unforgivable. […]

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Mar 07, 2008
5 ways to improve yourself as a board director

5 New Year resolutions for board directors: 1. I will ask the third and fourth question that finally pierces the veneer of management’s often obtuse, protective response. 2. I will recognise – and accept – the importance of non-financial factors in forming shareholder judgments and see to it that soft values (vs. hard assets) are […]

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Mar 02, 2008
Kofi Annan: Hero of the Republic of Kenya

I am writing this article in state of semi-euphoria, so you will forgive its breathless tone. It is Thursday night, and I have been witnessing something that seemed impossible at the beginning of the week: Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga sat down in front of the world’s cameras and signed a power-sharing deal. It is […]

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Feb 29, 2008
When the CEO loses touch with customers, trouble follows

“Although many companies like to use scientific research methods like surveys and focus groups to try to understand consumer needs, the best CEOs don’t rely on clinical data alone. They know that if they become removed from the action, they may miss important changes and opportunities in the marketplace. Many of them make special efforts […]

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Jan 11, 2008
A real leader exists for the good of his people. Period

“If we must have leaders, let us seek ethical leaders; those who seek the greatest good of their followers. The followers must on the other hand undertake to suffer the consequences of seeking, together with their leaders, the ultimate good, the greatest good. …How sad, then, that we are surrounded by such weak leaders; people […]

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Jan 06, 2008
Let Kenya’s leaders spend tonight in a slum

So many bad things have happened in Kenya over the past few days that we are numb with disbelief. But more than anything else, I am overcome by feelings of deep shame. Shame that my countrymen are capable of such inhuman and unconscionable acts against each other. And shame that people at the top of […]

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Dec 21, 2007
The great CEO is actually a teacher

“Think back for a moment to your school days. Remember the best teacher you ever had, the one who seemed to know everything about his or her field and had something all the other teachers lacked: the ability to boil down the complex ideas of a discipline – whether it was psychology, economics or chemistry […]

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Dec 14, 2007
Sun Tzu’s 5 fatal leadership flaws

“There are five character flaws that are dangerous for a general. If he is reckless, his men can be killed. If he is cowardly, his army can be captured. If he is short-tempered, he will react in anger. If he is self-important, he can be deceived. If he is attached to his men, he will […]

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Nov 26, 2007
Fast Forward: a new leadership development programme designed and led by Sunny Bindra

Fast Forward is a new leadership development programme, launching in Kenya in 2008. It has a specific aim: to develop the leaders of ‘business unusual’ and take them on the final leg of their learning journey – developing WISDOM and GOOD JUDGEMENT in leadership. The programme will select a small group of participants every year […]

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Nov 16, 2007
Singapore continues to boom

“The strong global economic tide has lifted the boats of most South-East Asian countries, but perhaps the most impressive performer is Singapore. Its national income per head is already higher than Spain’s and New Zealand’s, and five times that of its nearest neighbour, Malaysia…since the 1997 Asian Crisis, it has fared markedly better than its […]

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Nov 09, 2007
Leisure-loving CEOs come under scrutiny

“During 10 critical days of (one of the worst crises) in (Bear Stearns’) 84-year history, Bear’s chief executive wasn’t near his Wall Street office. James Cayne was playing in a bridge tournament in Nashville, Tenn., without a cellphone or an email device. …In summer weeks, he typically left the office on Thursday afternoon and spent […]

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Oct 28, 2007
The ninth parliament was a disgrace

President Kibaki dissolved the ninth parliament this week, and asked the media and historians to judge its performance. So, let the evaluations begin. I think the ninth parliament was a disgrace to the country. To be fair, though: this parliament came in with a different set of public expectations. During the last years of the […]

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Oct 26, 2007
Give your CEO five years – then it’s judgement day

“Worldwide, boards of large corporations are dismissing four times more CEOs today then in 1995, a trend that raises an important question: Are boards undermining the chief executive’s ability to lead for the long term? …Booz Allen Hamilton’s decade-long study of CEO turnover at the 2,500 largest companies in the world points to a different […]

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Sep 30, 2007
Let politicians unleash ideas, not mobs

Silly little armies wearing shukas and carrying bows and arrows. People being attacked simply because they dare to stand for election. Rent-a-mob tit-for-tat protests. Idiots clapping and jeering as they burn effigies. Threats and counter-threats. Banned rallies. Insults and abuse. What a childish general-election campaign we seem to have in store. It is extremely worrying […]

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Sep 14, 2007
The fallacy of the ‘hands-off’ leader

“Lots of business leaders like to think that the top dog is exempt from the details of actually running things. It’s a pleasant way to view leadership: you stand on the mountaintop, thinking strategically and attempting to inspire your people with visions, while managers do the grunt work. This idea creates a lot of aspirations […]

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Aug 31, 2007
The boss must ‘walk in stupid’ – every day!

“It’s the hardest thing to do as a leader, but it’s the most important thing. Whatever day it is, something in the world changed overnight, and you better figure out what it is and what it means. You have to forget what you just did and what you just learned. You have to walk in […]

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Aug 24, 2007
Are your board directors dinosaurs?

“A decade ago, when one non-executive director joined the board of a paragon of American industry, a long-serving colleague told him, in private, “New directors shouldn’t speak up during board meetings for the first year.” That attitude is untenable today and, in fact, that board is much different now. But such comments are indicative of […]

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May 27, 2007
The lessons of Affair Wolfowitz

The Paul Wolfowitz saga ran painfully long, but finally came to an end last week. Wolfowitz resigned as President of the World Bank, after digging in his heels and repeatedly stating that he would not step down in the middle of the huge storm involving his girlfriend. Mr Wolfowitz is widely regarded as a ‘neo-conservative’, […]

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Apr 15, 2007
We need better women leaders

We had great hopes for our new women leaders in 2003, did we not? For the first time we saw a fresh batch of women, some veterans of the multi-party struggle, others young and zestful, taking meaningful positions in parliament and government. We hoped for a better, more sensitive, more thoughtful type of leadership than […]

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Mar 25, 2007
Lessons in leadership from a true elder

This is a year in which we’re going to select new leaders in Kenya. That’s why we should take lessons in what leadership really means; from wherever we can get them, and long before we go to the polls. John Adair was in town recently, at the invitation of the British Council. He is the […]

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Mar 04, 2007
We need candidates who will inspire us

Allow me to share with you some excerpts from a recent speech made by a candidate for the presidency: “We all made this journey for a reason. It’s humbling, but in my heart I know you didn’t come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be…In the […]

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Feb 04, 2007
What exactly is the WSF achieving?

The World Social Forum is done, and the throng is gone. Nairobi had the honour of hosting the first African WSF; the assembled delegates had the honour of looking African poverty in the eye. “Another world is possible” was the slogan. And another world – a fairer, braver, more equitable, more sustainable world – is […]

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Oct 22, 2006
Is your eldest son your best bet?

We are still very traditional in our approach to business in Kenya. Most enterprises are owned by families; most look to the eldest son in the family to take the reins as the first line of succession. Anything wrong with that? It’s a time-honoured practice across the world: the eldest son must always assume the […]

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