Africa Education Opinion & Analysis

LESSONS FROM A KENYAN CEO

TEESTEP KENYA CEO SHARES IMPORTANT BUSINESS LESSONS.

Running a successful company in Kenya is never a walk in the park, there are a myriad of ups and downs, twists and turns which can always put off faint-hearted people. Assuming the position of a Chief Executive Officer gives one visibility, and with visibility comes greater responsibility. A whole lot of things are expected from you even though you are not solely responsible for the operations of the business. As Teestep celebrates it’s fourth year anniversary it’s needless to say I’ve been on quite a journey and learned some important lessons along the ride. I have to admit that these are but only a few of the lessons that I have garnered along the way, you can get the comprehensive guide from my new book ,“A PATH TO GREATNESS”. If you are aspiring to be an all-time game-changer and a world-class business leader this is your best chance, just let me take you through what makes  outstanding personalities of the 21st Century. Below are the top 5 lessons for aspiring CEOS:

 

Know what counts and what doesn’t

In a business setting you’ll realize there are some things that are really important and a whole lot of others that aren’t. Making profits counts. Customer satisfaction counts. Employee satisfaction counts. Brand superiority counts. Social responsibility counts. Profit showoff doesn’t. Unnecessary premise decorations doesn’t. Unethical competition doesn’t. Trade secret infringement doesn’t. Misleading advertising doesn’t. The bottom line is a CEO has a lot to do to keep his company ahead while at the same time maximizing profits. It’s all about focusing on what is important to the company and it’s stakeholders at large. It’s not entirely about values and ethical conduct of the CEO but rather his ability to identify what comes first second, third and so on and so forth. I personally in a great way rely on the words of Goethe the German Philosopher in my management style that, “ things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least”. Things that matter most are what counts maximize on them, others can wait.

 

Connect the dots

I always describe a CEO’s job as one that Majorly involves connecting a series of dots. Some visible,some slightly visible and others better called fantasies. It is an arena for the invent and re-invent mantra. Becoming a CEO will demand you assess what today holds and what tomorrow(future) needs. You’ll need to know where the market is shifting and learn to re-engineer your processes to suit the trend. You may not be able to anticipate all aspects of your business, the industry or the environment you’ll certainly miss something but you’ll be far off ahead of your reactive competitors.

 

Be the best

Ask any CEO and they will tell you they are the best and could do anything not to be ranked second best. When you are the CEO you go to work and do your job as well as is humanly possible. As a CEO you’ll need certain standards that you’d rather not infringe, this way your performance will always be at it’s best. Being a CEO means there should never be another better version of you  given the responsibility that the title carries. Room for improvement will always be there but that should never compromise your standards. You ought to be at your level best in whatever you get yourself and the business into. For instance, each morning I report for work I recite my favorite verse just as a reminder of my standards of work Collosians 3:23 that says, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Well, you’ll agree with me then, when I say there is no better standard and comfort than working for God, at least that’s what to me it feels like. The question is are you the best?

 

Read Divergently

To a CEO reading have no finite limits. The smartest CEOs  takes on a divergent approach in reading and learning. To a CEO there is no genre unworthy his perusal, the position revolves around conversancy about everything. As a CEO you’ll need to read divergently and be open for all things from all directions or otherwise you cut yourself off from possibilities. Read about finance, read about leadership, read about culture, read on emotional intelligence, read about arts, read literally about everything including the things you aren’t into. You have to constantly learn and through the integration process you grow.  Personally I have read over six hundred books and as a matter of fact Human Resource is the least represented in that number, with only fourteen of the total number of books. I have read books on politics, leisure,love, religion, finances,business, real estate,life-skills, geography among others. You want to be a super CEO read! Read! Read! As you read remember to also read history books, the only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know,” wrote the late President Harry S. Truman.

 

Know when to walk away

By walking away I don’t necessarily mean quitting, a CEO never quit. Quitting is giving up because you either don’t want to put  in the effort, you don’t like hardwork or are scared of failure. CEOs never quit, they get on with the job without complaint. However, great CEOs know when they’re beat. They clearly understand that no one can be brilliant at everything, and sometimes you have to try things to find out whether you can really do them. Well, maybe you can’t. Sometimes you’ll head down the wrong path in business, often with the best motives. But perhaps there is no way of knowing it’s the wrong path until we try it. This way we get to know when to hold on, when to walk away and even at times when walking away is not enough, when to run!

 

 

 

Githuto Mutahi is the Managing Partner and a Senior Human Resources consultant at Teestep Kenya Limited(www.teestep.co.ke). A leading human resource company based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, that offers an array of HR service ranging from HR consultancy, Recruitment and staffing, Payroll services, Temporary staffing, Interview training, CV writing among others.

 

 

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