Articles Tagged Leadership

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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Sep 03, 2006
The true lesson of Obama’s visit

We are impressed, are we not? Many had doubts and misgivings about what a visiting American senator could do for us. Many of us feared that Kenyans would take the visit of ‘one of their own’, and an influential one at that, as an opportunity to line up and plead for assistance. But Senator Barack […]

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Jun 25, 2006
Kimunya delivered a young man’s budget

Last week Mr. Amos Kimunya was the youngest Finance Minister in my memory to present the country’s annual budget. And it showed. KPMG Kenya’s Richard Ndungu, writing in The EastAfrican, entertainingly described Mr. Kimunya as our Chief Plucker – a play on the meaning of his name in Kikuyu. And the Minister certainly proceeded to […]

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Jun 18, 2006
Time to take directorships seriously

Not too long ago, an offer of a position as a non-executive director was one you would accept with alacrity. Power without responsibility? Just four or five meetings a year? The company’s management does all the work, while I ask a couple of intelligent-sounding questions here and there and play the wise and experienced sage? […]

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May 21, 2006
Kenyan politician – where is thy substance?

The smell of elections is in the air again. Perhaps it’s just the fallout from the Marsabit air crash, and the resultant by-elections. Whatever the cause, the kaleidoscope that is Kenyan politics is rotating again. New parties are being formed, and old ones unceremoniously dumped. Alignments are shifting, and ambitions emerging. Accusations of betrayal assault […]

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May 14, 2006
How not to choose a leader – by England’s FA

This country appears to be obsessed with football – as long as it’s not Kenyan. We spend many months engrossed in the ins and outs of the English Premiership, La Liga and Serie A. And now we’re all preparing for the ultimate festival of international football – the World Cup itself. All Kenya, it seems, […]

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Jan 01, 2006
Leadership requires an enabling environment

If there’s one thing guaranteed to excite Kenya’s chattering classes, it’s the issue of leadership. Our leaders let us down every time, they complain. We have such great things going for us as a country; we should be a Singapore or a South Korea (or at least a Botswana). But we keep voting in the […]

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Dec 18, 2005
Designing the top team, Kenya-style

In the light of recent events, we need to revisit the work of Jim Collins. I introduced his “Good to Great” project in this column recently. To recap, Mr. Collins and an army of researchers conducted a five-year project to answer the question: what is it that leads to greatness in companies? What attributes do […]

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Nov 01, 2005
Needed: a politician-proof economy

It’s nearly over. When the counting is done, we will know whether Kenya voted ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for a new constitution. The absurd campaigns, the squandering of billions on hot air and empty rhetoric will come to an end, and we must thank heaven for that. Until the next time. Meanwhile, a strange thing was […]

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Sep 11, 2005
True leadership connects with the people

Jose Mourinho is the manager of Chelsea Football Club, the world’s richest such institution. It is bankrolled by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovitch, and has spent record-breaking amounts in the transfer market. So strong is the Chelsea squad of superstars that many analysts predict a long period of total dominance of world football. Yet the real […]

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Aug 14, 2005
Youngsters, step forward to lead!

Can anyone of sound mind be against the idea of renewal? We see it in nature all around us, every day of our lives. The magnificent flower is in full bloom for a few days, and then its petals drop away and its beauty fades. The proud lion, monarch of the plains, is master of […]

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Jul 01, 2005
A legacy unravels?

It took a long time to build what South Asians have in Kenya today. Dana April Seidelberg called us ‘mercantile adventurers’: for more than 2,000 years we have been arriving on African shores as traders, investors and artisans, part of the age-old Indian Ocean trading triangle with its corners in India, Arabia and East Africa. […]

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Jun 26, 2005
Raising the bar for politicians

As the government passes its half-way mark in office, we can all be sure of one thing: we’re in for two-and-a-half years of high-decibel campaigning and low-principle scheming. Money will undoubtedly start to flow now: roads, clinics and schools will begin to emerge as judgement day starts to loom on the horizon. Equally, the number […]

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Jun 19, 2005
The power to lead by example

My young son arrived on the planet last year and brought with him a message of profound importance. As I have spent the past few months playing with him and observing him, I have become aware of an unnerving fact: he watches me very, very carefully; and then behaves as I do. He sees what […]

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May 15, 2005
The CEO agenda for Kenya

Chief Executive Officers of Kenya should read John Donne: “No business is an island entire of itself; every organisation is a piece of the economy, a part of the main; if a consumer be washed away by the sea of poverty, Kenya is the less, as well as if a company were, as well as […]

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