5 Reasons Role Models Make Better Leaders

Transformational growth happens when we are purposeful

Kenneth Blanchard, an author and management expert, says this: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

Role Models Better Leaders

Reading is a culture that is developed consciously. Growing up, I could only lay claim to the schoolbooks I had. Food inspired my love for reading.

I borrowed a classmate’s copy of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. One thing stood out from the book. As Georgina (George), her three cousins and their dog went out camping, they fried bacon and eggs for breakfast. Afternoon tea was accompanied with cake!

In my mind! I could taste the delicious bacon. Having grown up with just the basics and the occasional treats once in a blue moon, this book brought to life possibilities beyond my current status then. When my mum served pumpkin and black tea, out came the Famous Five.

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Leadership Is Until The Whistle Blows

5 Leadership Lessons From A Mountain Bike Trail

The morning was chilly and cloudy as my seven-year old son and I set out on an adventure. We were off to a father-son event out in the forest. And for me, it was time to take my leadership and mentoring a notch higher.

5 Leadership Lessons From A Mountain Bike Trail

At the staging area, there were trampolines, slides, obstacle races, and great music. But our attraction was to ride our mountain bikes into the forest. My son had made it very clear that it had to be done.

I had been to this particular forest many times before. We had walked the trails with family and friends. In my mind, our bike ride was going to be a walk in the park. And the first leg was exactly that.

We accompanied our under-12’s on a four-kilometer ride. When we got back to the staging area, I was in for a big surprise. The adults were to race on a real mountain bike trail!

In our briefing, we were warned to ride carefully. There were twists, turns, and some rough sections. This wasn’t what I had signed up for! I just wanted to hang out with my son for some easy Saturday morning fun.

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Protected: The Game-changer’s Manifesto (LeadByChoice, 2015)

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You Have Permission To Visualise!

#LBC_Think is my thought series to help you kick-start your week. Every Monday morning, fix your favorite cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and enjoy your weekly nugget.

Most people I have met have a deep-seated desire to live a life of significance. It is a need to matter. We want to have a lasting impact that we are proud of. However, our busy lives have obscured our ability to keep our visions in focus.

To lead with authenticity, we must develop the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination and wisdom. In other words, you must have a vision. Michael Hyatt says this of vision: “If you have a vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you.”

Vision is the most identifiable quality of a leader according to Brian Tracy’s ‘7 Qualities of Visionary Leadership’. Having a solid vision is so powerful and is the key ingredient of your success. A vision is like a lighthouse. It guides you home to your true potential.

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When Forgiveness Begets Leadership

medium_11230538153The year I turned seven, my father, a government employee, was relocated to another town.

Myself, my mother and my siblings couldn’t move with him and stayed back home. I thought it was because we were already settled into our own simple house and in local schools. As kids, we weren’t prepared for this major upheaval in our family. My hero had been torn away from me.

The next thirty years were spent hating, regretting; living in fear instead of to my full potential. I couldn’t stand the thought of ending up the disappointment I perceived my father to be. But that was exactly where I saw myself heading.

I had dreams, aspirations and a bubbling heart, but somewhere along the way it had become a struggle to even think of waking up each day, let alone getting out of bed.

For many years, I harbored a longing to serve people in a significant way, yet I was doing nothing to fulfill that desire. I was too paralyzed by my fear of inadequacy.

Then I chose forgiveness… [TweetMe]

Read the full article on The Gift of Writing.

Question: Are you struggling to find your full potential as a leader, father or mother? I hope my story will inspire you to take the critical steps to be the leader you were meant to be. Down But Not Out is available at your favorite online bookstore, or a bookshop near you.
 photo credit: symphony of love via photopin cc

3 Fatherhood Thoughts for Leadership

medium_3647969038“The thinks you can think” by Dr. Seuss was running through my mind when I woke up this morning. It is Father’s Day, but what does that mean? I remember some thought I had nearly nine years ago. “Any man can father, but not all can be a father.” My worry was if I was good enough to hold the title of Daddy.

Looking back, and three children later, I can confidently say that my fears might have been overinflated and out-of-focus. The becoming was not just biological or the passage of time. It was something that I had to fetch from deep within my soul. That becoming involved sacrifice, courage and big dreams.

I have to admit that being a father has entrenched some deep passion for authentic leadership. It means looking beyond myself at all times and in every action I take. Even when I take time to unwind and rebuild, I frequently ask myself how that can help me to recharge in order to serve better and bigger.

Let me share with you three precious leadership qualities fatherhood has taught me. These are patience, presence, and practice.

Patience, according to Wikipedia, is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. [TweetMe]

For as long as they could belt out a shout as toddlers, all our children call out to me at night. For some of you night owls, this may be a walk in the park. But I am like a chicken, when the sun rises I wake up and when it sets, my shut-eye begins. So waking up three times in the middle of the night is a BIG deal for me. At first, I was uptight about it. But I began to treasure the fact that I was on the front seat of our children’s growth.

As I developed my character trait of being steadfast, it began to affect my relationships and leadership. My ‘short-fuse’ grew a little longer with time. I was becoming more appreciative of other people and also value their contributions more.

Presence is the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present. I especially loved a meaning from the 1570s meaning carriage, demeanor, aspect and that of divine, spiritual or incorporeal being felt as present from 1660s. Although I had made a choice of being present for my family, I did not fully appreciate the work I’d have to put into it.

It meant coming up with memories for my family. I craved for anecdotes that one day we could all look back to with nostalgia. One night, we had such a heavy downpour that our backyard was left under four inches of water. Looking at the flotilla of garden equipment and toys floating on the water, it was a little depressing.

Then a light went off in my mind. Why not don our rubber boots or Crocs and play some soccer? When I got home from work that evening, that’s exactly what we did. Our older children have never forgotten that day. They talk about it with pride and knowledge of who they are and where they belong.

As a leader, not only do you have to be present. Your presence has to matter, you will have to get your hands dirty many times over. It is uncomfortable, but those you lead will remember it forever. [TweetMe]

Practice is the repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. After learning patience and being present, the most difficult for me has been to keep on practicing to grow my leadership.

The pain and strain of getting into a new space of learning has left me exhausted on many occasions. However, I need to have courage to pick myself up and practice what I have learned over time. Without this, my knowledge, skill and aptitude will only but fade away. [TweetMe]

I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone two years ago. Being a father to our children was (and still is) working out pretty well. It has been comforting to know that I am great father (the votes are in from all our three children).

My challenge came in a young man who had just lost his dad to a road accident. He was hurting bad, worried for himself, his mother and siblings. He forced me to open up my heart and practice what I preached in my own home. Today, I received this email from him. I have to admit that I couldn’t help but tear up as I read it. For me, it’s one Father’s Day gift that is difficult to match.

“Id just like to let u know that you have been the closest thing to a father since Dad’s departure from this earth and in that im greatful. Even though im quiet sometimes i always know in my heart that i can confide in you and seek your council when needed. Thank you. Happy fathers day Mr.Kimunya and God bless you.” [sic]

How do you lead everyday? Please share your thoughts below…

[photo credit: scribbletaylor via photopin cc] This post is dedicated to Jeddy. You are growing into one fine man 🙂

The Maple-Leaf Affair

On a recent trip, I couldn’t help but notice a well-dressed elderly lady in a wheelchair. She was sipping at what I assume was a delicious coffee at Muggs & Bean, just outside the boarding gates at Cape Town International Airport in South Africa.

I gathered she must be Canadian as her bag had a tag with the red maple leaf found on the Canadian flag. I did not think much of her until well into our flight. Incidentally, the lady and her husband sat across the isle to my left.

That is after I noticed that she was urgently pecking away at an iPad. It was the bold, red, fontsize-24 Arial typeface that grabbed my attention.

“Handling the wheelchair is becoming a challenge. The pain in the shoulders and fingers is getting worse. Need constant help to get around,” she typed out and continued, “Should check out hospice [she even typed out its name]… Prepare for death.”

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Rise up Titans!

de5d6297a3e847ce5b90e1649671565eA few days ago, I received and interesting email from a good friend. “I will give you a call in a bit about this post…” was all it said. No salutation or sign-off. He is a regular management columnist in the local Business Daily. “What had he noticed in my blog post?” I wondered. Being the optimist, I focused on the positive. I thought he has found life-changing inspiration in my thoughts.

Later in the evening, after a raucous exchange of pleasantries (he is a fun, loud chap) he blurted out, “I give you a 1 out of 10 for your blog post today!” What? Did I hear that right? So much for my optimism. Under normal circumstances, I would have become super-defensive. But I listened…

He took me through the emotions he underwent as he read my blog. The title had drawn him in, but something was missing in the content and he was yearning for more. Furthermore, he gave it to me straight up that my post was not up to the quality he expected of me. You know what? He was spot on!

I re-wrote the post to meet the need of one man. Was it necessary? Without a doubt it was. The reason I write is to fulfill a need. It is to share knowledge and inspire perspective to life, work and family. As I write, I strengthen my leadership and learn how to become a better follower.

A short while back, I attended a meeting with a difference. About a hundred men gathered together to engage in discussion around the meaning for their existence; spiritually, in society, at home and at work. There was a palpable buzz in the room. From the very onset, I had a feeling that something awesome was afoot.

For many men, it does not come naturally to us to meet and discuss intimate matters that affect our personal lives. We would rather discuss politics, sports, cars or women for hours on end than admit that we need help. Yet the cry for help was the clarion call in this meeting. Men coming together and saying, “I need help!”

So, what did I learn from these two experiences?

Leaders meet a need, not a target [TweetMe]. The need is a cry from the younger men for role models. They want to be led. They want to learn. They need hope. There is a need from the older folk. They have a deep craving to be significant, to matter. To lead is essential or very important for them to inspire future generations. When needs are met, a sense of belonging and stability is cultivated.

Leaders are pillars of unity. However, unity is broken when I participate in active/passive disobedience and refuse to take responsibility for my actions or calling. This happens when I am overwhelmed by fear or I am too lazy to commit to the task ahead. You can gauge a leader’s influence by his or her ability to instil unity in their followers regardless of the surrounding conditions.

Faithful people needed, must be ready to lead courageously. When I lead courageously, I begin to define the fellowship of where great initiatives spawn [TweetMe]. I need to take time to actively listen to others. To listen requires patience and time dedicated to it. Sometimes, listening is a dangerous adventure and I need all the courage to embrace criticism, rebuke or correction.

Leadership is complementary, not competitive. Who really pays the price in competition? How complementary are we as leaders to inspire hope in people? Do I give people faith in their capability that propels them forward in love? I read this interesting insight: “Faith is walking as you are. It is being stripped down to your own bare essentials and simply saying here I am.” Complementarity is when a leader has a healthy perspective of life and work. As Lolly Daskal says, “Losing perspective is being stuck in one single view of things and becoming distant from other views.”

When I choose to become a leader, I must be ready to pay the price [TweetMe]. The choices I make are driven by the values I hold. A leader can only be as effective as his or her deeds. I can’t expect to instigate meaningful change if I can’t live that change in the first place. For your influence to be followed, leaders have to pay at the door! I have to be the change that I wish to see in the world around me. I have to pay the price…

“I dream of men who take the next step instead of worrying about the next thousand steps,” T. Roosevelt.

Are you living to your full potential? List fears that are holding you back, and then determine the steps you will take to overcome those fears.

Naked & Unashamed: Lead Forward

Today is a Good day to leapHow do you react in the face of adversity, especially when it is driven by something from your past that you fear to admit publicly? For most of us, leadership and being vulnerable are not cozy bedfellows.

During difficult times, or experiences, it is difficult to admit everything has completely broken down and the center does not hold anymore. Pride and a sense of self-preservation take over, and we grow a callous hedge around ourselves or sweep the dirt under the carpet.

Enemy Within. This is the cradle of the absolute dearth of intentional and character-based leaders. ‘Leaders’ are a dime a dozen at work, home and the political arena. Sanity, direction, hope, and mentor-ship are in short supply. Selfishness abounds with a vice-grip on our souls and drives us to the misplaced need to satisfy ourselves first with serving only a remote thought. Everything else, including children and spouse, become secondary.

This virus is driving the rot we experience all around us. The enemy within, one may muse, seems too large a dragon to slay. Like I did, it is possible not to appreciate the hurt your  family relations have exposed you to. That enemy is bitterness, anger, resentment and lack of forgiveness wrapped up in a tight package.

However, some of us are so wounded by our fathers, mothers, relatives or friends to appreciate that being vulnerable has the ability to make us stronger. We are too proud or afraid to admit that we are hurting, that we are mortally wounded and need urgent care. This places a titanium cap on our ability to lead effectively. We clam up in fear.

Writing “Down But Not Out: Becoming a Significant Leader at Home” was my way to deal with the wounds I had received from my father. As I pointed out in Leadership is a sacred trust, he was absent when I was a young, vulnerable boy growing up. It was the first step toward a grueling journey of forgiveness and freedom for a heart enslaved in bitterness.

Healing Wounds. If you intend to become a leader, and hope to take leadership to the next level, you’ll need to challenge your thinking to refine your direction. Forgiveness is the key to this new thinking. For without forgiveness, you remain a prisoner-of-war, in a jail where you cannot post bail or request for an appeal.

‘The spiritual life begins with the acceptance of the wounded self.’ Really? How can that be? The reason is simple: ‘Whatever is denied cannot be healed.’ But that’s the problem, you see. Most men deny their wound–deny it happened, deny that it hurt certainly deny that it’s shaping the way they live today.” John Eldredge, Wild at Heart.

For me, I had to start all over again. I debunked the myth that I am that ‘real’ man not vulnerable enough to accept that I carried with me a shipload of wounds. My macho image had to fall off if I was to live a life full of meaning.

Then the tears came, I could not hold them back. The painful wounds came back to me like an uncontrollable flood. I had expected the tears to bring with them a dark grey cloud from the past. Surprisingly, as the tears flowed, the darkness clouding my life began to dispel. My soul felt like it was bathing in a warm soothing flood. I sensed the healing had started. It was like a balm was soothing my deep, painful wounds.

The Law of the Lid. To raise the bar in my ability to lead, I had to pop my lid open. This is what John C. Maxwell refers to as ‘The Law of the Lid’ in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He states “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” I was afraid to be vulnerable. I did not want others to know the pain that held me captive. This raging pain limited my ability to lead.

Only when I started to open up did I see my interaction at home, work, and social circles begin to be less stressful. I was finding more joy in helping others and proactively providing guidance and direction. I began to write. I was more relaxed and less snappy. I became more patient and tolerant to others.

Leaders embrace the challenges they face, yet all my life I ran away from my demons. When I confronted them, I got the courage to embrace my ability to deal with them. When I took leadership of my innermost soul, I led others with purpose and joy.

Take action…

  • Have you been holding onto hurts and inadequacies that hold back your ability to lead?
  • Are you afraid to be vulnerable before other people?
  • What steps will you put in place to re-think your current position in order to lead forward?

“Now is the time to start ripping open a cavernous, gaping hole! Because simply making ‘a dent’, just isn’t adequate.” Todd Nielsen, in Screw “Dents”… I’m Aiming for an Immense Gaping Hole!

photo credit: Effortless Vitality via photopin cc