Monday, 25 May 2015

Leadership Lessons From Remarkable CEOs.

In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with some chief executives of various organizations and institutions. Interaction with these movers and shakers of various fields of specialization was an objective that I mapped out two years ago to be able to find out what virtues and values got them at the helm of their respective organizations. So, climbing the career ladder and establishing oneself as a reputable executive is leadership in itself but there are certain fundamentals that must be adhered to for a person to sit at the corner office. 

One of the leadership lessons I’ve learnt from the CEOs is unrivaled integrity. A high level of integrity is an absolute standard that one needs to have to be a captain of an organization of repute. One of the most fascinating and interesting definition of integrity is that carved out and given by the United States of America Marine Corps. The Marine Corps define integrity as doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Learning from a top executive, a person needs to act in the rightful manner not just when people are around him or her but also when alone. So, when alone are you always doing the right things or doing things the right way? If yes, then you have a good level of integrity but if no, then you’ve got to work on your personality. The majority belongs to the latter category and therefore to standout as a leader one needs to be different in a positive way from the mass.

Definiteness of purpose is another trait. This is a necessity that is exhibited by the top-notch executives. When you figure out what distinguishes them from the ordinary ‘gang’ is the sense of purpose that they have. Having a purpose in life is one thing and how well you orchestrate it is another different thing. Identify the exact purpose as to why you are carrying out a particular activity. What distinguishes remarkable leaders from the failed ones is the exactness to which they attach to their activities. Goals and objectives that we set in our various spheres of life need to be met with exactness that is exclusive. What I’ve learnt from these organizational heads is that vagueness in purpose leads to vague results.

The ability to listen more and speak less is a lesson that I have certainly picked up from these executives. This is one of the main reasons as to why not all people are leaders or simply put, one of the reasons why some leaders aren’t successful. It isn’t God’s will or nature’s will that we coincidentally have two ears and one mouth; we should be able to listen more and talk less. The more you listen, the more ideas you assimilate and the more wiser you become. Talking more than necessary oftentimes creates and leads to memory brevity. This is not a suggestion that a person needs to be quiet but the weighty lesson we are supposed to learn is the ability to lend an ear to different people and individuals.

In life, one needs to be ruthlessly and fiercely ambitious. This is a core lesson as explicitly demonstrated by these institutional captains. The remarkable CEOs are normally ambitious with a flair of aggressiveness and abrasiveness. They have their eyes set on positively changing different facets of humanity and society. They know what they want in life and they set out on a mission to achieve their goals and make their dreams come true. Portraying a unique ambition is what creates their unique personality leading to unique results. In this context, however, note that I am writing about uniqueness that is positive because it is what remarkable leaders are associated with. Do not expect to sit there and have great expectations about life you must get up on your feet and work towards your goals just like sailors do when they embark on a voyage.

The remarkable CEOs have a penchant for the small details. They invariably understand that the smaller details make the greatest difference. Most individuals have this notion that big acts automatically lead to greater changes. This is a relatively unwarranted and skewed perception that individuals need to review. We tend to overlook the minute details and this is certainly the point where we veer off the road to greatness and success in life. To be an outstanding leader one needs to decapitate the act of ignoring the little things. Paying attention to the smaller details eventually pays off in terms of goal attainment or in the creation of a market brand.

Another leadership lesson that I have bagged from these exceptional personalities is the precision that they attach to decision making. Definiteness of making decisions is one of the traits that sets them apart from the rest of the ordinary folk. In making decisions, these outstanding captains understand that making them hurriedly without any foresight will most likely lead to failure hence they take their ample time coupled with hindsight to make decisions that will ultimately be iced with high levels of efficacy. But what we need to learn is that in them taking their good time in making decisions does not imply that they waste a lot of time. There is certainly a time frame that they have set for themselves to be able to come up with ideas and proper decisions.

Time management albeit a common rhetoric, is one of the crucial deeds that separates the wheat from the chaff with regards to remarkable and failed executives. This is one particular field whereby many individuals talk too much about it but hardly stick to their words. Preaching water and taking wine are exact opposites. In other words, it is worthy to say what you mean and mean what you say. From these A-level executives, we must create time frames for the scheduled activities if we seek to achieve and attain our priorities in any given aspect of life. In managing time effectively, a significant lesson that I have learnt from them is to be able to differentiate which activities are necessary and which ones are a priority. Thus, in the quest of being exceptional as a leader an individual needs to fully embrace the act and practice of effective and efficient time management skills.

One of the lessons that I fancy and at the same time fascinates me as exhibited by these awe-inspiring and marvelous organizational leaders is their mastered ability and art to think big and dream big. What we ought to know is that we have casual dreamers who attach casualness in their way of doing things. These casual dreamers have casual thoughts and hence their inability to be remarkable. As a matter of fact, thinking big and dreaming big are very different from talking big. Remarkable CEOs delve into bold action to actualize their dreams. Dreaming big and thinking big is an unparalleled panache of being visionary and establishes a person as a shrewd leader.

Eminent CEOs surround themselves with smarter people than them. What I’ve overtly learnt is that your character and actions are the same if not similar to the individuals that you closely associate with. Uncommon executives do not suffer from the inferiority complex of having smarter people around them. They understand that to attain greatness there is need to bring on board smarter people than them because they know that building a self-fortress will definitely hinder progress. 

These are just some of the fundamentals that I found necessary to share with my audience with regards to leadership lessons. The most important thing is to be able to apply these traits, virtues and values in our daily lives. In application of these simple principles we will be able to gravitate towards excellence, success and transformation in life.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Rhetoric and Reality of Kenya’s Security.

Ever since our incursion into the failed state of Somalia we have fallen victims to a series of attacks orchestrated by the Al Shabaab sympathizers on our land. However, a closer look reveals that ever since the Jubilee administration came to power these attacks have become more intense with high levels of fatalities. Besides the Al Shabaab machinations, banditry has escalated and perhaps the recent bandit attacks are the deadliest in our nation’s history.

Last week, over 100 people were massacred in Nadome Valley on the border of Turkana and Baringo counties. This number of deaths is according to the intelligence reports. It is believed that over 400 heavily armed bandits surrounded 12 villages and began spraying bullets. The villages that were raided include Kalpat, Acham, Koghturo, Kangolio, Chepisia, Chongor, Lonangii, Loreng, Napuu, Sukut, Popon and Karuwon. All these villages are located in Silale ward of Tiaty sub-county in East Pokot, Baringo County. Turkana raiders attacked the Pokot and made away with 3000 cattle and sheep and goats totaling to about 1000 in number.

The nonplus thing was the inability of the security forces to react immediately to the bloody happenstance. As a matter of fact, it took close to 3 days for the security forces to gain access to the valley of death. Partly, though, this can be attributed to the very poor infrastructure that exists in this particular place. To me, the inability of the security officers to quickly react is because of high levels of incompetence within the team, corruption and the government failure to provide enough modern equipments and facilities to combat such criminal activities. I mention incompetence because the police and the General Service Unit (GSU) camps are within a radius of 35km from the place of attack and they FAILED absolutely to react even within 48hours. The past and present governments should take the blame because the security officers operate under not-so-good conditions. Is it difficult to procure modern equipment and facilities albeit the high costs associated with them? In any case, security of the nation ranks the highest priority among any sane government in the world.

Last year in the infamous Kapedo Massacre, 21 police officers lost their lives after being ambushed by some Pokot raiders. This prompted our dear President Uhuru Kenyatta to tour the region and certainly talked tough by issuing ultimatums to the individuals in possession of illegal firearms. Some surrendered their firearms but I am pretty sure the majority didn’t. Soon, the embers of the much hyped disarmament exercise died and then life was back to normalcy. A visit by the president to Nadome was anticipated but it is yet to take place.

It sounds illogical and insensible for Kenya to be battling banditry and cattle rustling nearly 52 years after attaining independence. These cases of cattle rustling and banditry normally happen in the regions that have been economically marginalized over time. Such places have been perceived to be of little economic importance in the country especially due to their unproductiveness in terms of agriculture. Could this be the main reason why the successive governments have never advanced a comprehensive agenda for these areas in quest for a permanent solution? Certainly and relatively yes.

We’ve got lessons to learn from Uganda on how President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni firmly dealt with the Karamoja region which also experienced similar challenges of cattle rustling and banditry. The Ministry of Karamoja was carved out under which several programmes and initiatives have been implemented including the Karamoja Livelihood Improvent Programme and the Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Programme. Under the Grand Coalition government, a ministry for the arid and semi-arid areas was created but no tangible achievements were witnessed.

Apart from the socio-economic hardships, some of the political leaders from this region are alleged to be inciting their communities. Is there any need really to utter sentiments that lead to loss of lives? The Directorate of Criminal Investigations ought to carry out thorough investigations to establish the conduct of these political leaders. The challenge lies in the prosecution of these politicians if found guilty.

On a general scale, the Jubilee administration is really struggling to fix the security situation. Since its ascension to power many people have died and many more wounded in the wake of terrorist and banditry attacks. Let’s revisit some of the deadliest attacks since the Jubilee coalition formed the government. In last week’s attack around 100 people or more were slaughtered and shot. On April 2nd this year, 148 people including 143 students lost their lives when the Al Shabaab launched an attack on Garissa University College. Late last year in Mandera there were two attacks which claimed the lives of 64 Kenyans. In June 2014 we also had attacks in Mpeketoni where 68 deaths were recorded. Also note that last year we had 21 police officers massacred in Kapedo. On 23rd September, 2013 we had a terrorist attack at the Westgate Shopping Mall where 67 people died.

Following the Mandera carnage, the then Cabinet Secretary in charge of Interior and Coordination of National Government Joseph Lenku and the Inspector General of the National Police Service David Kimaiyo were shown the door. They were replaced by their tribesmen Joseph Nkaissery and Joseph Boinett in the respective capacities and positions. Mr. Lenku came across as grossly incompetent due to the drama he elicited during press conferences. Then came the tough son of Kajiado who talks in a manner likely to intimidate journalists to prevent them from asking many questions during his press briefings. My opinion is that it does not matter who takes charge of the security docket to deal with insecurity. We must take the fundamentals into account for us to effectively restore security in the affected areas.

The said fundamentals that we are to consider according to me are mainly three and these largely centre on the modus operandi of the security forces. Firstly, the police recruitment exercise entails the use of archaic means, methods and ways that were instituted and used by the colonialists to recruit policemen in the colonial period. Secondly, the police recruitment exercise is usually shrouded with a lot of corruption. Due to corruption, we end up recruiting Kenyans who join the police service just to draw salaries from the tax payers and such people lack the zeal to protect the citizenry. Do such recruits who join the police force as a result of corruption ever have the imagination of one day engaging in a battle? At the time of being recruited the majority usually foresee how much money they will be earning at the end of the month. Being a police personnel is a calling and this cannot be disputed. Thirdly, we should have a paradigm shift in the training programmes of the police with emphasis on intelligence and the use of sophisticated equipments to combat crime. To add to the above necessities, we should allow those who have attained high grades and also university graduates in criminology and related courses to join the police. Normally when we have recruitment this category of persons is usually turned away creating an impression that the police force is an avenue and a reservation for academic failures.

This should be a challenge bearing in mind that the Al Shabaab is recruiting university graduates as we recently saw in the Garissa University College attack where a law graduate was among the master-minds. Perhaps this was just a microcosm of the situation as there could be many more graduates operating with this terrorist group. I believe that successful execution and implementation of the fundamentals will definitely change the way the police and the entire security system works and operates. Otherwise we shall forever wail, whine and cry due to the current system that is in place; where bandits and the Al Shabaab overpower the police officers. In fact, one of my former parish priests Gabriel Dolan jokingly said that the government should consider deploying the Kenya Defence Forces officers to Nadome to deal with cattle rustlers and bandits and take the bandits to fight Al Shabaab in Somalia as they seem to be so effective. Therefore, to conclude, the government top honchos should stop talking too much and let their actions towards containing insecurity make noise for them.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Kenya’s 2014 Economic Growth Facts & Figures.

Last week, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, KNBS released the 2015 Economic Survey report. In the report, they clearly outlined the economic performance of our nation in the year 2014 and also succinctly explained the expected economic performance for this year. Kenya is said to have recorded a 5.3% economic growth rate in 2014 which is the second lowest growth rate for the last five years bearing in mind the recent economic rebasement that we had. In 2013 the rate of economic growth rate was 5.7%, in 2012 it was 4.6%, in 2011 6.1% and in 2011 it was 8.4%(GDP at market prices). It should be noted that the 5.3% rate of economic growth was a downward revision of the earlier projection of 5.8%. This year the World Bank and other economists have forecasted a 6% economic growth rate.

 The main drivers of the economy in the year 2014 notably were mining and quarrying, construction, financial and insurance activities, wholesale and retail trade, electricity supply, agriculture, fishing and forestry and manufacturing. All these registered positive rates of growth except accommodation and food services that recorded a second consecutive negative growth rate.

Our economic backbone that is agriculture grew by 3.5% last year compared to 5.2% in 2013. This slump is mainly attributed to the erratic rains experienced in the country. With Kenya and other developing countries being strongly anchored to rain-fed agriculture, it poses a great danger to economic performance suppose we record very low levels of rainfall. This is a challenge that the policy makers and shapers need to focus on if we indeed harbor dreams of actualizing the idealized and ambitious Vision 2030.

The tourism sub-sector has for the previous years been one of the economic “cash-cows” for our economy. From the statistics given by KNBS, the number of international tourism arrivals declined from 1.52 million in 2013 to 1.35 million last year translating to 11.1% . This contraction in the number of international arrivals further led to a decrease in the tourism earnings by a significant percentage of 7.3. This implies that the earnings from tourism took a dip from Kshs.94 billion to Kshs.87.1 billion. The explicit cause of this particular decline is insecurity. It can be recalled that last year as a country we had a number of attacks in several places including Mpeketoni in Lamu, Mandera and a series of grenade attacks in Nairobi and these negatively impacted on tourism as they led to the issuance of travel advisories  by countries which have often contributed largely in the number of tourists who visit Kenya. More so, the fear of the spread of the deadly Ebola disease also led to the reduction in the number of tourists.

As it is precisely and concisely highlighted in Vision 2030, the manufacturing sector is envisaged to be the leading sector by the time we get to 2030. But if its performance is to go by, then the path ahead seems to be with lots of curlicues. In 2014, this sector posted a 3.4% rate of growth compared to a relatively impressive growth of 5.6% in 2013. My opinion is that we have not embraced the requisite fundamentals needed to engineer modest to rapid growth and expansion of the sector. For us to have a robust manufacturing sector, then the key lies in establishing agro-based industries which will effectively spur growth of inter-related industries.

Building and construction sector had an impressive growth of 13.1% in 2014 compared to 5.8% in 2013. The expansion of real estate, and the continued construction of new roads and railway lines and the recarpeting of the existing roads fuelled the growth of this sector. Funds allocated to the sector from both the government and private lenders were an impetus for this improvement.  Credit extended by the commercial banks towards the building and construction sector increased by 13.1% to Kshs.80.4 billion from Kshs.70.8 billion in 2013. It is also worthy to note that cement consumption grew by 21.8% last year to stand at 5.2 million tones.

The energy sector performed relatively well last year. The total capacity of electricity installed increased from 1717.8MW in 2013 to 1798.3MW in 2014 representing 4.7%. This expansion was due to the increase in the geothermal capacity. In addition, total electricity generated increased by 8.2% to 9138.7GWh. The domestic demand for electricity went up by 3.8% from 6928.1GWh in 2013 to 7768.6Gwh in 2014. The Rural Electrification Programme seems to be progressing smoothly because as at July 2014 the number of individuals connected was 528,552 which was a 16.5% increase. The total quantity of petroleum products that were imported increased from 4.0 million tonnes in 2013 to 4.5 million tonnes in 2014. Hence, as a result, the import bill of these petroleum products expanded by 5.6% to Kshs.333.1 billion. The increase in the total quantity of imported petroleum products and the subsequent rise in the petroleum import bill are attributable to the increase in the total domestic demand that shot up by 5.3% to 3.9 million tonnes last year.

In matters transport and storage, the sector posted an improved growth rate of 5% compared to 1.22% recorded in 2013. The total freight transported through rail rose by 24.3% from 1.2 million tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes in 2014. The total quantity of cargo handled at the Port of Mombasa increased from 22.3 million tonnes in 2013 to 24.9 million tonnes in 2014 which translates to an 11.7% increase. At the airports, the total air passenger traffic went up by 7.9% whilst the cargo traffic handled rose by 6.8%.  Nevertheless, there was a 9.1% increase in the total number of newly registered motorvehicles meaning that the figure stood at 102,606 units in 2014 compared to 94,017 units in 2013.

The information, communication and technology sector is for sure the next frontier that will superbly drive Kenya’s economy. In 2014 the sector grew by 13.4% compared to 12.3% in 2013. The usage and penetration of the internet within the Kenyan borders was at 38.3%.  Mobile money subscriptions in the year under review clocked 26 million which represents about 60.6% penetration rate of the total population. Mobile money services continued to perform positively. The cash deposits through these services stood at Kshs.1,269 billion compared to Kshs.1,033 billion in 2013. Cash transfers via these services increased by an impressive 24.7% from Kshs.1,902 billion in 2013 to Kshs.2,372 billion in 2014.

On the macro environment,  the economy posted mixed results. The Central Bank Rate was maintained at 8.5% as a measure to ease inflation. However, the rate of inflation increased from 5.7% in 2013 to 6.9% in 2014. On international trade, the country’s trade deficit worsened as a result of a high import bill. The imports grew by 14.5%  which is Kshs.1,618.3 billion against the exports which increased by 6.9% representing Kshs.537.2 billion. There isn’t no doubt that our balance of trade worsened last year. Again, this is an economic situation where several policy interventions are to be made if we are to avert the “Dutch Disease” infection. Consequently, the trade balance deficit worsened by 18.7% from Kshs.911 billion in 2013 to Kshs.1081.1 billion in 2014. Coupled with this, the current account deficit increased by 30.2% to be at Kshs.536.1 billion. 799,700 jobs are said to have been created in both the formal and informal sectors. But is this really the situation on the ground? Well, a huge chunk of these jobs were created by the informal sector. In fact, the modern sector created 27,900 less jobs than in 2013. In the year 2014, the modern sector created 106,300 jobs compared to 2013 in which 134,200 jobs were created.

The number of education institutions rose by 3.2% from 77,197 in 2013 to 79,641 in 2014. The enrolment in the local universities went up by 22.8% with the number of university students increasing from 361,379 to 443,783. On health, 40 new health institutions were established totaling to 9,959 health facilities. The registered number of medical personnel increased by 8% from 112,576 in 2013 to 121,578 in 2014. In spite of all these positives in the health sector, deaths caused by malaria were at 11.6% of the total deaths while the ones caused by pneumonia were 10.9%.

 For the economy to leap forward the primary consideration would be to fix the challenges to insecurity. Threats to a secure environment scare away investors and this of course hinders more capital inflows and investments and the tourism sub-sector is normally hard-hit. Tourism is already limping and experts figure out that it will take around three years to revamp it. The onus is solely on the government to tackle cases of insecurity. However, I am optimistic that this year we can attain an economic growth rate of 6% with the main drivers being building and construction and the ICT sector. Let’s sit, watch and wait for a similar period of time next year when we shall be looking and analyzing the 2015 economic performance.