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

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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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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Aug 09, 2009
What did we gain from Hillary Clinton’s visit?

Hillary Clinton paid her much-anticipated visit to Kenya. US President Barack Obama had already signalled his unwillingness to visit his fatherland, so we knew that his redoubtable Secretary of State was the next best thing. Now, I often wonder about these visits and whether they serve any purpose other than spelling out America’s agenda in […]

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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 22, 2009
Is your ‘great’ company sowing the seeds of its own future failure?

“When you are at the top of the world, the most powerful nation on Earth, the most successful company in your industry, the best player in your game, your very power and success might cover up the fact that you’re already on the path of decline.” That question—how would you know?—captured my imagination and became […]

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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 14, 2009
Development lessons from tiny Rwanda

Consider this country. Civil servants are required to report on duty at seven o’clock every morning. Cabinet ministers are given a modest amount by the government with which to purchase official vehicles, and an appropriate maintenance allowance; if they choose to use a large gas-guzzler, they do so with their own money. This country’s capital […]

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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 31, 2009
Learn from this failing football club

Newcastle United got relegated from the English Premier League last week. “Say what”? I hear some (but not all) of you shout in unison. Don’t we get enough mania about foreign football in this country, without ‘A Sunny Day’ adding to the madness? Is it not enough that a deranged young Kenyan recently killed himself, […]

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May 25, 2009
Manager bullies may be killing your organisation

“As we burrow deeper into the recession, companies around the world are cutting costs in all the usual ways—by reducing headcount, slashing capital budgets, and trimming overheads. All these measures are vital. But in their quest to root out inefficiencies, companies should also be focusing on the hidden but substantial costs of supercilious and overbearing […]

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May 24, 2009
A jolly good British scandal

I don’t know about you, but I find it immensely entertaining when the British are caught in a moral quandary. This is a nation that often preaches moral probity and higher-order values and ethics to the rest of the world; it is great sport when they get their own knickers in a twist, as they […]

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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 29, 2009
Kenya’s reverse economics: squander everything that’s scarce

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta tells us that we are going on a national belt-tightening exercise. Government is going to cut out unnecessary foreign trips, workshops, and conferences by its leaders and functionaries; we are going to cut out all unnecessary hiring of cousins and sycophants; and we are going to suspend all spending on luxuries. […]

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