Industry titan, James C Collins in his signature book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, stated that “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” Is the achievement of greatness aided by good leadership? Can the leadership exhibited in the attainment of greatness be attributed to an inborn trait or is it a product of nurturing?
Mystified by the great leadership puzzle; is the trait in born or is it nurtured; captains of the industry in different fields took center stage in debating this during the recently concluded Strathmore Business School Open Day. The panel comprised of Joyce Anne Wainaina, CEO Citibank Nairobi – East Africa, Kitili Mbathi, Director General, Kenya Wildlife Services, Rosemary Okello Orlale, Ford Foundation, Duncan Onyango, East Africa Director Acumen Fund and Dr. Fredrick Ogola, Senior Faculty and MBA Director Strathmore Business School.
Director General, Kitili Mbathi’s career has traversed from Private to Public Sector service, an interesting transition he explains as one he had to distinctly groom himself for. Are leaders the catalyst to spurring growth in their organizations? “Great leaders have the capacity to influence their followers to achieve greatness. This is made possible through their readiness and willingness to always lead from the front; in being the flag bearer of good practice. Servant leadership can only come alive if everyone in the organization can see the boss doing it,” remarked Kitilli.
Having risen through the leadership ranks of Citibank, Ms. Joyce Anne’s expansive career has been one to reckon with. She remarked on the distinction between the grooming of a leader and the making of one. “I have often been asked of whether dressing the part has some contribution to what it takes to makes the part. My response has always been; it is the elements that make the composition. Elements such as wisdom are critical in the nurturing and grooming of every leader. With great wisdom and understanding comes the discernment of what path should be taken to achieve greatness.”
Can leaders execute the successes witnessed from one organization to another? The question in place brings the level of adaptability competencies in question. Dr. Fred Ogola, the MBA Director Strathmore Business School in his remarks explained the significance of honing oneself with the flexibility of successfully managing the transition from one area of responsibility to another. With this he explained that studying the set conditions of the business environment and successfully utilizing one’s leadership skills to achieve success is paramount.
Kenya’s greatest resource lies upon its youth. Studies indicating the growth of the young aged population bracket has born discussions towards the role of the youth in the country. Speaking of the involvement of youth in leadership, Ms. Rosemary Okello encouraged the audience to create amiable conditions for the youth to take up leadership roles. However, this can only be achieved through changing the leadership narrative of the youth which in most cases have a futuristic orientation as opposed to the present.
Bringing the sessions to a close, Duncan Onyango, panel discussion moderator brought the conversation to a halt echoing the sentiments that leadership springs from great humility with a firm understanding to what is happening around.