Articles Tagged Leadership

Ram Rahim
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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Hawker selling
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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Airport rain
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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African children
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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Confirmation bias
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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Vote
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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Grenfell Tower London
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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Vote
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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Arsene Wenger
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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Voting
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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Masks
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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United Airlines
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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referee's whistle
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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Obama leaves
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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Trump
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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Rocket
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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Banks, cityscape
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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Facebook eye
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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Brexit
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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maxresdefault
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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Corporate awards
Apr 17, 2016
What do corporate awards really signify?

I wrote this in 2009: “I am about to lose quite a few friends with my next sentence, but here goes anyway. I don’t believe in corporate awards; I think they are shallow, fickle and pointless, and we should not pay too much attention to them.” I once worked for a large professional services firm […]

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Superboss
Feb 07, 2016
We don’t need more ‘Superbosses’

I have spent a good chunk of my life working with well-known bosses. I noticed quite a while ago that, unlike me, an awful lot of them seem to get up very early in the morning. I often dread asking for a meeting and being told to meet for breakfast at 6.15 am… The Economist […]

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shutterstock_106984478
Jan 31, 2016
Are you a ‘dead sea?’

(Sunday Nation, 31 January 2016) One thing that’s great about social media is that it reconnects you with old friends. Andrew Blacknell and I have a shared history. We went into our first job together, straight out of university. We were fresh-faced junior management consultants in one of the big consulting practices of the time, […]

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Fraud
Dec 13, 2015
There’s a fraud going on in your organization right now

“Somewhere in your organization a fraud is taking place, right now.” The venerable accounting teacher, James Boyd McFie, would say those words at the beginning of every lecture he delivered on a programme for directors that I used to lead. The sentence created a suitable chill in the audience. It is true. No matter which […]

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shutterstock_164617403
Nov 22, 2015
Waiting for Pope Francis, champion of the poor

“Lombardi had served as the spokesman for (pope) Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, a man of Germanic precision. After meeting with a world leader, the former pope would emerge and rattle off an incisive summation, Lombardi tells me, with palpable wistfulness: “It was incredible. Benedict was so clear. He would say: ‘We have spoken […]

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threewords
Oct 11, 2015
Three words that may ruin you one day

Lawyer Mugambi Nandi recounted an interesting episode on Twitter recently. He was sitting in the back of a taxi when an ambulance appeared, siren blaring. Mr Nandi’s driver, like many others on that road, refused to give way. The lawyer took umbrage and ordered the taxi driver to give way, to little avail. He even […]

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ceohowmany
Oct 04, 2015
CEO: how many “small” people does your company bully?

Kenyan CEOs are always busy giving away cheques to worthy causes, speaking noble words at gatherings of luminaries, and championing the agenda of good corporate citizenship. Here’s a question for them, though: why is your company so virtuous for the cameras, and often an outright bully when it comes to the “small” people it deals […]

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howtotellif
Sep 13, 2015
How to tell if a company is heading for trouble

Last week on this page we discussed the “dead-horse strategy.” There is only one sensible strategy to follow if your horse is dead: dismount. Many of us, nonetheless, don’t do sensible strategies: we try to fund, motivate, whip or imagine the dead horse back to life. The column raised many a laugh, but also a […]

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