"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Feb 06, 2011
Bad things happen when leaders become detached from followers

Like a tidal wave the people came, and kept coming. They had had enough, and had nothing to lose. Only a complete removal of those who led them would appease them. Day after day after day they piled into the streets. They made their own country ungovernable and froze its economy. It was only a […]

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Jan 30, 2011
Open letter to Kenyan CEOs, part 2

Dear Kenyan Chief Executives Last week I wrote to you to point out that if your company’s customer service sucks, there’s only one real culprit – the person you greet in the mirror every morning. Some of you may have taken umbrage at that suggestion, so do allow me to elaborate in this second part […]

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Jan 23, 2011
Open letter to Kenyan CEOs, part 1

Dear Kenyan Chief Executives As we launch deeper into 2011, and as many of you sit down to plan your strategic priorities, I thought it apt to plant some ‘thought seeds’ in your magnificent minds. You will know, I am sure, that the core of your business is your customer. Business is an ecosystem, but […]

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Jan 10, 2011
Is your CEO just a big baby?

“Until last week, I had always thought that it was the worst CEOs that had so much in common with two-year-olds. Both groups tend to swagger round with a wide-legged gait. Both say “mine” a lot and are exceedingly bad at sharing. Both have short attention spans. Both lack common sense and have issues with […]

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Jan 09, 2011
We need less No-Drama Obama and more Barry Oh!

Isn’t it time we Kenyans gave Barack Obama a mid-term report? We take a special interest in his presidency, after all. Two years ago I waxed entirely lyrical about Obama’s ascendancy to the world’s top job. That a black man, with Kenyan origins to boot, had made it so high was indeed cause for celebration […]

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Dec 20, 2010
Over the X-mas holidays, will your smartphone be on or off?

“BlackBerrys on or off while on holiday? Definitely on, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of communication services giant WPP, told this newspaper recently. Off, said Tamara Mellon, founder and chief creative officer of shoemaker Jimmy Choo. When it comes to e-mails, Ms Mellon said, “holidays are a no-go zone”. Sir Martin suggested that those squinting […]

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Dec 13, 2010
Here’s a strange word to bring into your workplace: kindness

“The signature of my first book, In Search of Excellence (written with Bob Waterman), was a six-word phrase: “Hard is soft. Soft is hard.” As Bob and I examined the problems besetting US corporations circa 1980, we believed they and their advisers had got things backwards. We said that in the end it was the […]

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Dec 06, 2010
Try leading from the back of the boat

“If you think about how you steer a boat, it’s always from the back, and I’ve moved toward the back of the boat. Initially, my sense of leadership was to be the military general out in front of the troops and the first one rushing into battle. You have to be a leader. You have […]

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Oct 03, 2010
India’s games shame should be a wake-up call

India’s shame is nearly complete. You will not have failed to notice the utter mess the country has made of the preparing for the ongoing Commonwealth Games. “Shining India” was meant to showcase its newly acquired global prowess by holding an event to make the world sit up and take notice. Well, the world did […]

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Aug 16, 2010
When is it time to let go of your organisation?

“How do owner-managers know when and by how much to loosen the apron strings? And how do they choose who should take over responsibility for their precious offspring? Mayank Patel, founder of Currencies Direct, a UK-based foreign exchange and international payments business with turnover of £1.2bn ($1.8bn, €1.4bn), says he knew from the start in […]

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Jul 05, 2010
Your chairman should be a great storyteller

“The latest revised UK code…states: “There should be a dialogue with shareholders based on the mutual understanding of objectives. The board … has responsibility for ensuring that a satisfactory dialogue with shareholders takes place.” But how hard companies find this basic task to be. Drowning in technical measurements – total shareholder returns, earnings per share, […]

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Jun 27, 2010
BP v Obama – whatever happened to leadership?

I have been watching the unfolding oil spill drama with a mixture of horror and amazement. As someone who believes in the power of corporations to do good, and in the power of leadership to transform, I am dumbstruck by what I see and hear. The facts you know: toxic oil is spewing from a […]

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Apr 12, 2010
Before you join any board, ask yourself “Why?”

“The first step in ‘getting on a board’ is to ask why you want to be on a board. If the answer is for self-aggrandizement or prestige, the reputational risks today far outweigh any such benefits. Similarly, if it is for financial reward, there are easier, less risky ways to make money. If it is because you have […]

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Apr 05, 2010
How far should you trust your gut instinct?

The McKinsey Quarterly: “In your recent American Psychology article, you asked a question that should be interesting to just about all executives: “Under what conditions are the intuitions of professionals worthy of trust?” What’s your answer? When can executives trust their guts?” Gary Klein: “It depends on what you mean by “trust.” If you mean, […]

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Mar 22, 2010
What would happen if you shut down your corporate HQ tomorrow?

“One day I would love to conduct an experiment by replacing the entire board of directors of a major corporation with shop dummies and see how well things go. I’m confident most organisations would carry on regardless – and quite a few would unquestionably perform better. Out would go mad strategic initiatives, doomed takeovers, suicidal […]

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Mar 15, 2010
A potential corporate scandal is lurking in your company

“Ten years ago this month, for the Spring 2000 edition of Directors & Boards, I ran a photo on the cover of Dennis Kozlowski, then the high-flying chief of high-flyer Tyco International. It is not something I am ashamed of, nor is it something that I am particularly happy to be reminded of.  Those were certainly […]

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Feb 21, 2010
Why don’t we all just give politicians a blackout?

Here we go again. The headlines say it all: the coalition government is crumbling, the principals have fallen out, the shilling is sliding, investors are nervous, we are facing another meltdown. But I ask you: what exactly has changed since last week? What cyclone has hit Kenya that our prospects look so suddenly bleak? Have […]

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Feb 15, 2010
The key to success: enjoy yourself thoroughly!

“Because starting a business is a huge amount of hard work, requiring a great deal of time, you had better enjoy it. When I started Virgin from a basement flat in west London, I did not set out to build a business empire. I set out to create something I enjoyed that would pay the […]

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Feb 07, 2010
Our leadership model is costing us dearly

Picture the scene. The former leader of a global power is summoned to a commission of inquiry. He spends a full day there, in front of the world’s cameras. He is grilled by the commissioners on every aspect of certain decisions he made: why he did and said certain things; what he knew and did […]

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Jan 25, 2010
Are you REALLY serious about your succession process?

“Look in the mirror. If you really don’t want your potential successor to get the job, don’t kid yourself. There is a very strong probability that this person will never get the job. You will just look for problems until you find a reason to disqualify him. Don’t jerk around potential successors. This is not […]

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Jan 11, 2010
Are managers motivated mainly by money? Think again

“Companies around the world are cutting back their financial-incentive programs, but few have used other ways of inspiring talent. We think they should. Numerous studies have concluded that for people with satisfactory salaries, some nonfinancial motivators are more effective than extra cash in building long-term employee engagement in most sectors, job functions, and business contexts. […]

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Nov 08, 2009
President’s trimming of motorcade could be just the beginning

It’s not easy to be optimistic in Kenya these days, and most conversations about the future are laced with gloom. But last week brought us probably the most positive development seen in Kenya in recent times. You may have missed it, though. President Kibaki, when he left to attend a conference in Nigeria, reportedly travelled […]

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Oct 26, 2009
Can your board challenge your CEO?

“Jack Welch’s tenure as CEO of GE was, by any measure, phenomenally successful. But even the most remarkable CEOS are mere mortals, and bound to err from time to time. In Welch’s case, one notable blunder was his ill-fated attempt to acquire Honeywell in 2001. It was a deal fraught with risk, undertaken with little […]

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Oct 18, 2009
Today’s Kenya: A Shakespearean tragedy?

Justice Aaron Ringera, erstwhile head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, quoted Shakespeare extensively during his tenure and elaborately during his prolonged departure. He is a lifelong devotee of the Great Bard, and with good reason: any lover of English must of necessity be a lover of the works of William Shakespeare. Such is his influence […]

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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 23, 2009
Nairobi City Council – hope or despair?

These days, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the Nairobi City Council. There are reasons to do both. Let’s get the crying over with first. Was it possible to watch the recently concluded mayoral election in Nairobi and not burst into tears, even if you’re a grown man? For this process stretches […]

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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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