Articles Tagged Leadership

May 20, 2018
All that rain, and yet no water

An observant visitor to Nairobi over the past few weeks would have noted an interesting paradox: it has rained and rained and rained and then rained some more in the capital city; and yet the metropolis remains locked in water rationing, quite severely in some areas. If this was your visitor, how would you explain […]

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May 13, 2018
Hail the monomaniacs!

Photo credit: EPA Pep Guardiola lifted the English Premier League trophy last Sunday on behalf of the club he manages, Manchester City. I think we should all applaud, regardless of team affiliation. For me, the most interesting part of Pep’s season came during a game in November. He began berating a player who just been […]

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Mar 18, 2018
Are you succeeding, or just looking like you’re succeeding?

When Jeffrey Immelt, long-time boss of giant conglomerate GE, held his annual address to investors last May his corporation’s stock was trading at close to $30. He painted a rosy picture of his long tenure, and retired as CEO soon afterwards. Today the stock price is around $15. His successor decided to bare all and […]

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Feb 11, 2018
Here are some of the invisible mentors who have shaped my life

Last week I told you about invisible mentors – those inspirational figures who are present in our lives and prominent in our successes without ever mentoring us formally or practically. Sometimes we meet these people; sometimes they never know we even exist. And yet they leave their indelible imprint. Think about it: invisible mentors are […]

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Feb 04, 2018
Who is your ‘invisible’ mentor?

Mentorship is all the rage. As young people struggle to come up in the world, they feel they need someone of accomplishment to take them under their wing, guide them, open doors for them. Success, they feel, is much easier to achieve when someone successful shows them how. We grow up being guided by parents, […]

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Dec 17, 2017
The new leader’s purge

As a leadership advisor, I am often left pondering a common phenomenon: when a new leader arrives in office, what inevitably follows is a purge of the followers of the old one. I have seen it many times over the years: a new leader is appointed; and all those associated with the old regime must […]

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Dec 03, 2017
Why do leaders cling on to power?

Watching Robert Mugabe cling on to power at the ripe old age of 93 was perplexing. He had clearly outstayed his welcome by decades, not years; the army had been forced to move in to prevent him handing over power to his own wife; and hundreds of thousands of his people had poured into the […]

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Nov 26, 2017
How easily should a public figure be sacked?

Michael Fallon, the United Kingdom’s Defence Secretary, was forced to resign. He did this shortly after he was forced to admit he had inappropriately touched the knee of a female journalist fifteen years earlier. Priti Patel, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development was forced to step down in the same week as […]

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Sep 17, 2017
The madness of believing in charlatans

A rapist was found guilty. The rapist had supporters, though. Millions of them. A mob of thousands, upon hearing the court’s verdict, went on the rampage, attacking journalists, setting vehicles on fire, attacking train stations and government buildings. Dozens of people were killed in the mêlée. The army had to be called in to quell […]

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Sep 10, 2017
Amidst electoral uncertainty, what to do?

(Photo credit: Ciku Nyawira) When they said 2017 is an election “year” in Kenya, they meant it! As I write this, Kenya is in electoral limbo. The Supreme Court has ordered a fresh presidential election, declaring the August 8 poll null and void, after months and months of noisy and expensive electioneering. The electoral body […]

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Aug 27, 2017
What a flight not missed teaches us

We were flying in the rainy season. We set off on the first leg, needing to arrive at the hub airport on time and then catch a connecting flight to our final destination. We had allowed two hours transit time to catch the next plane – more than enough, said the airline staff at the […]

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Aug 20, 2017
We must move on from messiah leadership

Watching the aftermath of our recent general election, I was left pondering a phenomenon that appears after pretty every such event in these parts. Those who support the presidential candidate announced as the winner inevitably embark on celebrations. That’s perfectly understandable – everyone likes to be part of a winning team, after all. But for […]

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Aug 13, 2017
What comes first – your belief, or the facts?

Another disputed election. That’s a hat-trick now since 2007. At the time of writing this, I do not know who won the various poll races held in Kenya this week, because the official results are not out yet. But the airwaves and the cybersphere are full of competing narratives, conspiracy theories, accusations and allegations. The […]

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Aug 06, 2017
Waiting for an election-proof Kenya

Another general election looms. Because this is Kenya, that could mean some or all of the following: Heightened tension. Hate speech. Fake news. Reversion to tribal identity. Insults and counter-insults. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Rigging and counter-rigging. Anxiety and nervousness. Economic standstill. Ethnic displacement. And, if the worst happens, botched results followed by mayhem. Why are […]

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Jul 02, 2017
Where’s the outrage and where’s the learning?

Photo credit: ChiralJon/Flickr I began worrying about collapsing buildings in Nairobi more than a decade ago on this page. Over the years, I have written increasingly vociferous pieces warning that if shoddy building standards are not addressed, we will kill many more of our citizens. If consequences are not visited upon those who build badly, […]

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Jun 18, 2017
What’s behind all these shock election results?

As miscalculations go, this one was epic. Theresa May, prime minister of Britain, had no need to go back to the electorate. She had a decent majority in parliament and a whopping lead in the opinion polls. Misguidedly, she called a snap election. Now she has no majority, has lost the confidence of her party, […]

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Jun 04, 2017
The enigma that is Arsène Wenger

(Photo credit: Sky Sports) Arsène Wenger is the most successful foreign manager ever in the English Premier League. He has been at Arsenal Football Club for 21 years, in which time he has clocked up 16 trophies. His brand of football is, at its best, breathtaking: fast-flowing, creative, highly technical soccer. Even fans of rival […]

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May 14, 2017
There are no wasted votes

Kenyans are notorious for voting in herds. We get stampeded like cattle towards the candidate of the moment, the one that is likely to win. For national posts we get swayed by tribal overlords who tell us it is our duty to support ‘our candidate’ against ‘theirs.’ For local elections we wait to see which […]

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Apr 23, 2017
Your leader, the psychopath?

I have advised many, many CEOs in my time, but I’ve never envied them. They get a pile of money, certainly. But, as I saw Lucy Kellaway pointing out in the Financial Times the other day, CEOs are also often lonely and paranoid; the time they spend with their families is so little that they […]

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Apr 16, 2017
United breaks guitars. Also, people

If you’re even vaguely connected to the internet (or a television set), you know what happened. United Airlines took a passenger off a plane. And now the whole world is angry about it, and United’s brand is in ICU. On Monday, videos taken by Dr David Dao’s fellow passengers went viral all over the world. […]

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Feb 26, 2017
Who’s the most important person in the game?

Two football teams run out onto the field and take their positions. Who is the most important person on the pitch? Is it one team’s star striker going for a record number of goals? Is it the other team’s veteran midfield general? Or is it that agile new goalkeeper, widely expected to be one of […]

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Jan 22, 2017
So farewell, Barack Obama

Photo credit: The White House (adjusted) When Barack Obama entered the world’s most powerful office for his first term, I expressed my delight on these pages that such a rank outsider could make it to the very top. I had high hopes that he would do a stellar job of changing America for the better. […]

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Nov 20, 2016
What did the Trump ascendancy reveal?

Donald Trump is now the world’s most powerful man, put there willingly by the world’s most successful nation. There were people who saw this coming, but I wasn’t one of them. I did not believe that a majority of voters would install this man as their leader. Consider what has just happened. Americans have voted […]

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Oct 16, 2016
Hey leader, where’s your rocket?

In the early 1990s, IBM was a company in deep trouble. From being a globally dominant vendor of information technology, it was floundering. It was trapped in the thinking of its past, and failing to move with fast-changing trends in technology. An outsider, Lou Gerstner, was brought in to revive the giant corporation. In his […]

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Sep 25, 2016
Banks, don’t waste a good crisis

A few weeks ago I warned on this page that Kenya’s banks faced a ‘new normal’ – an era in which they would have to respond to tighter regulation, as well as innovate furiously just to survive. Well, that was before rate-capping knee-capped the industry. The recent Banking Amendment Act has ensured that banks in […]

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Sep 11, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg passed through. So what?

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was in Nairobi the other day. I thought we would note that and get on with our lives, but quite a sensation was created. I am really reluctant to add to the commotion, but I feel a couple of observations are necessary. Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most important […]

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Jul 03, 2016
What did the United Kingdom just do?

The market reactions said it all: the pound plunged to levels last seen in the 1980s. British shares endured a bloodbath, some losing a third of their value. That tells you that no one had factored in a ‘Brexit’ – Britain voting to exit the European Union. I know I hadn’t – I never thought […]

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May 15, 2016
What this club’s success means for everyone else

Photo credit: YouTube If you’d had the nerve last year to place KShs 200,000 on Leicester City Football Club winning the English Premier League (EPL) last year, you’d be sitting on one billion shillings right now. That’s right, the odds being given by the sage bookmakers were 5,000 to one. Winning the EPL was regarded […]

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