Successful Leadership

 

By Joshua Okello

As much as we have been talking on leadership on this blog, there are some points that we will continue reiterating until we drive the facts home. Leadership theories are like economics, they are the same in every country and in every business. So what makes leadership a daunting task? A leader and an entrepreneur should master these three concepts:

Persistence not stubbornness

I have come to realize that there is fine line between persistence and stubbornness and one can easily find him or herself on the other side of these two. Stubbornness is wrong, persistence is right.  Most of your clients will be touched by how persistent you are in achieving your objectives. With that said, you should expect rejections. That is the truth of the matter.

Back when I was starting our newly incorporated not-for-profit organization, I got so many rejections to a point I felt that it was not worth it pursuing my dreams in changing other people’s lives. I planned events that got shut down, I raised project proposals but all were aborted. Nothing is more frustrating like cancelling an event that people have signed up for. I got our organization event cancelled one week prior to the event. It was the most frustrating thing I had ever gone through.

I am very happy to report to you readers that I thank my team who cancelled the events and plans of the organization today. With the help of our amazing board members, we managed to register the organization and get projects going on. Entrepreneurship is not easy. Keep doing the good work you are doing and never be discouraged.

Most people will be converted by seeing how committed you are to your goals. Keep sending those newsletters but remember that when somebody tells you that they do not want to get your newsletter, then do not send it to them. That is just one example of stubbornness that will harm your start up or business. If you truly believe in what you are doing, then let nothing stand on your way towards achieving your dreams. Hard work pays.

Being stubborn closes you off to new understandings, new realities, and even new opportunities. Persistence, on the other hand, allows you to be malleable to discovery and learning from  new insights, while at the same time being resilient in achieving our shared purpose

By being persistent, we are able to see obstacles and challenges as opportunities to learn and evolve; to find new avenues where we can become stronger and do better job serving our customers.

Embrace Failure & Persistently Search for New Opportunities

You are going to fail! I wish I would put it in a better way but I do not want to sugar coat the truth. Failure does not really matter, what matters is how you get back after a hit. You have an option of staying grounded forever or picking up your pieces and taking it as an entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs know that the road to success has got so many stops, most of them failures. If you fail, never give up, go for new opportunities, search and research and actually from your failures you can draft a  plan that works since you already know what does not work.

One good thing I like with failing is that it only leaves you with one option and that is, how to do it successfully. After failing you do not have to do trial and error since you already know what works and what does not.

 

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Check out my book coming out this month on Leadership and entrepreneurship.

 

 

Uncertainties & Risks

F-Heisenberg_uncertainty_principle

By Okello Okello

Often times people talk of risks as the only fear to getting to entrepreneurship but do they really mean risks? What are risks? Is there anything else other than risks that can raise an entrepreneurs adrenaline. As an entrepreneur, if an action does not cause you to take a deep breath before you do it then it might not be risky enough and that means that it is not as important.

It is also good to understand that there is no perfect risk out there. There is a lot of uncertainty with decisions we make since we mortals can only operate in a linear time scale unless we are supreme beings. Therefore, people are always not scared of risks but the uncertainties that come with entrepreneurial decisions you make. What are uncertainties?

Uncertainty refers to outcomes not contemplated during the decision-making process while on the other hand risks refers to outcomes that have been contemplated, and are quantified as probabilities. The fact that risks are premeditated makes them expected in a way but uncertainties are those happenings that are not thought of and those are the most dangerous ones.

Duo-contemplation is about how to react in such occurrences of uncertainties. An entrepreneur needs to have clear thoughts when things do not go as planned. It can be drenching to operate in such a situation. Uncertainties can also include unexpected positive results or unexpected successes.

Uncertainties can be as a result of , Workers skills not matching the required standards of performance, low productivity due to low employee moral,  or the general mishaps in assumptions in the forecast sessions. Entrepreneurs should then give more weight to non-financial and qualitative factors than financial data. This is not to say that financial data are less important, but seeing past financial data can help give a second come back after uncertain occurrences.

Duo-contemplation matrix covers recovery from both risks and uncertainties and it heavily relies on the leaders ability to absorb market shocks and make wise decisions after a fall. For duo-contemplation to happen successfully, a leader should be ready for drastic changes. Employees should also be in a position to take the change with minimal and if possible no resistance however before these changes happen, an entrepreneur or a leader should consider;

Emotional Effects

How are the changes going to affect the entire team that an entrepreneur is working with? Are they comfortable trying new things? If they are not, how can we transform their fears into a cash flow generating ideas. That is the reason why business gurus do well. Dismantling failure, uncertainties and fears that come with it forms a strong base of success. As an entrepreneur, you do not want to be at the mercies of your emotions. Use your emotion to defeat itself. Change your emotions into happiness and enjoy the outcome no matter what it is. Sharing this attitude with your employees build confidence and a strong belief in the organization after drastic changes have happened. It is also important to know that when making changes, they should not be hard to adopt.

Psychological Effects

Let us take mind as the function of feeling, awareness and motivation. Anything that interferes with your state of mind negatively is what you do not want as entrepreneur. This is not easy as it may sound especially after a failure. The idea of duo-contemplation is to have a strong and stable state of mind to help you fight all the emotional effects that might come with a failure. Human mind is the most versatile organ in a body and can be trained to respond positively to any action.

As devastating a failure can be, human mind never run out of tentative solutions to the main problems in other words, there is no big challenge that human mind cannot handle. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). I wish every entrepreneur would read a bible as it boosts one’s faith when it comes to trying risky things. Based on this bible verse, you can meet challenges of different kinds but God has promised that you will not be over come by temptations, therefore do not let your challenges affect your state of mind.

Why the Change

Entrepreneurs should not just propose a change because they feel like it is good to implement one. When going for a change, plan and always remember to maintain your core values intact. Always have a positive and a better reason than before of why you think a change is important. A change can be too big that it becomes insignificant. That is when a change is leading to a permanent failure. Based on keen observation of British Motor Works (BMW) X series, Starting from X3 to X6 there has been very slight changes on every stage, either on chassis shape, gearbox setting, interior space, engine size etc. The changes are always minimal, direct and less complex. They are identifiable changes that does not need extra work to learn or adopt especially on a consumers perspective. The fact that you can also order a custom design BMW makes it even better so the changes suit your preference. The point, always have a reason why you are introducing a change and let it be easy to adopt.

How “The Art of Execution”

Doing the same thing all the time, tremendous repeat or repeated abuse as one of my friends describes it is unhealthy. It is said that change is as good as a rest therefore change should be constant and always in motion. That is when you change the change. So how should people execute the art of change? Implementing the art of change can be hectic yet it can also be simplified through these key points.

  •  The vision: It is important to lay out the vision, what exactly is changing and how is it going to change. The vision gives a broader picture of what the team will work towards. This vision should be clear, short and precise. By making the change vision clear, short and precise, you are simplifying it for your team to easy adopt it therefore there is a higher chances that they will buy into it.
  • Specialization: You want to match the tasks with skills required to accomplish them. Through specialization and division of labour, you are already simplifying the change making it easy to adopt. Clarity with each individual on how important their tasks and roles are to the vision of change helps develop a team synergy. Duo-contemplation work best if you match your team with what they can do best. It is all about maximizing the output from your team.
  • Follow-up: Great leaders go to their employees to inquire if they are meeting any challenges. Try it, it works. You do not have to implement a change to do this. Just ask how you can help them meet their goals, make fun and create a lively work environment. How many entrepreneurs like to crack jokes with their juniors? You want to create an environment where your team enjoys your presence and the work they do. It is also important that you make them know that you are in control, a manager, a director, and the boss if you like calling your self that.

Span it Takes to Change

How drastic are your changes? Are they changes that need 10 years to adopt? Since you are working with start-ups and growing businesses, a change should not take your team more than three months to adopt. It should be that simple. Design a change that impress, a change that every body wants to flock to. If you find it difficult to come up with one especially after failure then look at the reason why you failed or what you want to improve on and just tweak it a little bit.

Let us look at this example, you are a fruit vendor who sells a lot of bananas every week. In one week due to bad weather your sales went down and you are left with a lot of inventories that are perishable. Since You want to maximize your cash flows and revenues, you can decide to have a banana cup cake business along side your grocery to take care of the left over fruits. This is an example of a change that does not require a long span of time to adopt. It is easy, almost obvious and can still generate some income to support the business.

Realistic Goals

If you are a start up, you do not want to tell your employees or yourself that you are going to generate 1 billion in the first week of your business launch. Not that it is impossible, but setting realistic goals is always good. Start small then grow big. You do not want to risk a lot of your resources in a start up therefore losing it all is not good. Be economical, take it one step at a time and sent achievable goals with a reasonable time limit. Most entrepreneurs are big dreamers, I am saying this out of experience. This can make it extremely difficult for your employees to match your expectations because you always want your books to read 100 million revenue in your first year. Give your employees enough time and realistic goals that they can attain. It is better you give them short term and easy to achieve goals that will grow your business than giving them big, dreams that they cannot achieve making you close your business in the first few weeks it starts.

Planed Plans

When a King wants to concur another kingdom, he meets with his military heads to plan and strategist the attack patterns. This is something that has existed through the ages. Planning. You do not want to attack a giant with bear hands. Think of a story in the bible; Joshua 18. Joshua is sending out three representative to go and survey they land, they were to write  a detailed plan on what they saw, and how to get in the land they were promised. He is also laying strategy on how to divide the land, who settles on the south, who goes to the North and who remains in the East.

Key lesson is, plan your movement. Plan your action. plan and again plan the plan. It is really hard to win without a plan. That is why most politicians work with a campaign team. These are people who meet everyday to lay strategies depending on the location of campaign. Having been in African Politics as a strategist to a member of parliament, I can say that strategists do more than what you see politicians say on screens or on a political rally.

After the speech, then we analyze the clips word by word, gesture by gesture, information by information then we do a quick meeting every day to update the potential candidate on what he did well in and what he missed. We also monitor his dressing cord and match it with the tribe or a particular group of people he is going to address. All these are planning and if well executed, they can result into a big success.

Uncertainty, Risks and Fear works like three horns of a triangle. Once you dismantle one side the whole structure collapses.

Leadership, Management Dilemma (I)

Leadership Dilemma

By Okello Okello. 

Should a manager lead? or should a leader manage? I am generally speaking about management, not specifics such as micro or macro management. Leadership is one of the tightest ropes to walk in life and the balance it needs is more than you can imagine. Most CEO’s in organizations always get mixed up by the myriads of roles that come simultaneously under their titles. This post is going to extract and display some of the greatest dilemma that most leaders go through knowingly and or unknowingly.

1. Power and Responsibility

Of cause leadership automatically puts you in power and most leaders always find it a challenge to differentiate power and responsibility. This is also where leaders start to use their responsibilities despotically and the result is always a devastated team. Leaders should know that they are in a delicate position and everything they do and say is keenly being monitored by those under him or her.

As a leader, first you should learn your responsibilities. Once again, learn your responsibilities before you exercise power over anybody. Know your limits, understand your people and know how much pressure you have to mount on your team otherwise you are bringing more harm to your team and to the organization.

2. Give Incentives

Every Good Worker Deserves Favour! Always reward your best performers and remember to discipline your non performers but remember to do it with love. Give them second chances and be polite especially when dealing with failures. It is not a must that the incentives must be in currency form but even thanking your team can mean much to them and can be a source of motivation to a lot of people.

Take your team out for lunch, order pizza online and celebrate victory, give your team a half a day break to show them that you are concerned and appreciate the quality of work they do.

3. Dealing with Failures

You are having angry customers who are unsatisfied by the work your team has done. You have called your team in a board room and they can read tension on your face. Their heart is racing and their faces can read that “At the end of this meeting, one person must be fired!” Dealing with failures is more like giving incentives only that instead of giving tangible rewards, you are going to educate your team instead.

Please remember that we are not equal. Some are more gifted than others and for them to make it to your company, they have shown some wisdom or strengths that you wanted to tap into. Therefore, avoid calling names and do not shout. Self control is more than important in this case. If someone fails, always remember to give them a second chance. Nothing inspires people like telling a failure that they can do it. Be ready to show them the way, that is why you are a leader and not just an employee.

You are dealing and handling someone else future, therefore take a lot of caution on what you say. Encourage them and never set your hands flying in disgust. Show love, motivate and encourage non performers in your company and if the same problem continues then shuffle your staff, maybe they are the right people in the wrong seats. Always remind them of their calling and educate them to be great performers.

4. Change Top-Down

It starts with you! Yes as a leader, you should be a role model to people not a scare-craw. Mind your language and treat people with respect. It does not cost a penny to pay respect yet it rewards more than the revenues you can earn. Simple rule, “The Golden Rule.”  In “Our Lords Prayer,” there is a line that says “forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses against us,” This should be a leaders prayer at all times. Learn to forgive, and change your self before the team you are leading change for the better. And always remember that “True transformation only comes from God” (Unknown).

Please if you find this blog informative, share it on your social media, comment, follow, favorite and let other people learn from it too. That is the spirit of entrepreneurship. We are here to support each other. No one knows everything that is why we share, exchange and learn from one another. God bless you.

Socratic Leadership

Socrates

By Okello Okello

Is there anything business leaders can learn from Socrates? If anything then let us first start by getting to know who this man is. Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher who is credited as one of the founders of Western Philosophy. He came to fame through later classical writers most of them his immediate students namely Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon. He (Socrates) is widely known for his contribution in the field of ethics through arguments and self defense that puzzled most of his antagonists.

As an entrepreneur and apologist, I know that business leaders can learn a lot from this great philosopher, from ethics, bargaining, intelligence to reasoning.

1. Piety 

Socrates was so pious that he did nothing without the counsel of the gods, so just that he never did an injury to any man. This dependence on God is what most entrepreneurs lack, let me call it Socratic proslogion for now. The ability to have faith in God that all well thought-of ideas can work is a trait that can propel any business to higher levels. A lot of entrepreneurs lose hope so easily and shred their blue prints at early stages when they meet challenges. My advice is, seek counsel from almighty God and he will bless you with faith to believe that you can do it.

2. Temperate

Socrates never preferred pleasure to right. The ability to show moderation and self-restraint is very important when it comes to business. Successful entrepreneurs never do it for money but to change life standards of other people or to solve a need. When you are starting a business, my advice is; never put money first, always think of your customers and the value you are offering them. This is a concept that is very easily forgotten in business today. Accordingly, Socrates practiced temperance and self-denial to a degree which some thought ostentatious and affected

3. Intelligence

Socrates was so intelligent that he could not fault making judgement between what was good and what was evil. As a business leader, the ability to make right judgement is more than important especially in strategic management of any kind.  One very successful investor once told me, that it is never wrong to make mistakes but learn from them. His second advice to me was that it is okay to take risks, as long as they are critically thought of and well calculated.

4. Logical

Originating from the Greek word “Logike”, logic has got more than one meaning. a). It describes the use of valid reasoning, b). It is the study of reasoning. Socrates was a logician, who could reason out his thoughts in debates and arguments and that is how he won most of the accusations against him. A business leader should be a person who can reason well, logically and should tell when to quit if statistics do not tally. Business is about value both to the customer and to the entrepreneur and if any side is not gaining then it is time to apply logike.

5. Virtuous 

Socrates lived a life full of high moral standards. This could also be the reason why they teach business ethics in schools today. If something is not worth doing then do not it. My principle is; if something is against my moral and ethical standards then however good it is, I will not do it. Above all go to point one and know where the source of all morality comes from. Be pious.