A Monthly Publication from Citrin Consulting
January | 2012


IN THIS ISSUE

Courageous Leadership

TED Talks

Build Your Resilience

 
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Courageous Leadership

Do Your Job, Win a Prize

When I went to Malawi, Africa several years ago three things stood out to me; the joy in people faces, the hardships they faced every day, and the cellular phone towers that dotted the landscape.

I also found ot that among the many challenges that Africans face is their lack of experience with democracy. As my friend and host, Mashanko Banda told me, many African countries whose freedom fighter leaders won independence from European rulers back in the 1960s became harsh dictators who created privation across their country's landscape. Mashanko's father, Aleke had been one of those freedom fighters who was dedicated to creating a free and democratic Malawi but wound up being "detained" for 14 years when he questioned the leadership of the then President of the country. He won his freedom after Amnesty International protested his imprisonment.

While I was learning about the culture and people of Malawi, I could not help notice the frequent number of cell towers and cell phones that seemed to be ubiquitous throughout the impoverished villages. Malawi, along with other African countries had skipped a technology generation (they previously had no land lines) through the efforts of a Sudanese entrepreneur named Dr. Mohammed (Mo) Ibrahim. Dr Ibrahim founded the mobile phone company, Celtel that built cell tower infrastructures across Africa. His company sold over 24 million cell phones subscriptions across Africa including Malawi before he sold his company for $3.4 billion. Dr Ibrahim took a large portion of that money and established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation whose goal is to recognize great leadership in Africa.

Every year, the Foundation recognizes an African leader who governs well in terms of delivering security, health, education, and economic development for their people and who then also democratically transfers power to their successor. In the first five years that the Ibrahim Prize ($5 million) has been made available, only three awards were made. This past year, Pedro Pires, President of the Republic of Cape Verde was the winner.

Cape Verde is an archipelago of 10 islands located in the Atlantic Ocean about 350 miles off the coast of Western Africa. With just 500,000 residents and few natural resources, President Pires managed to create a middle-income economy through sound economic principles and effective social development policies such as focusing on building a robust tourism industry that provided many local jobs. And while these were important contributions to Mr. Pire's success over his ten years as president, perhaps his most important step was to agree to step down from his office to allow for a democratic transfer of government. Despite urgings from his fellow country men to change the constitution, he stood by the letter of the law.

It may seem funny to offer a prize to someone who just did his job well and then actually followed the law, but perhaps it is this kind of simple leadership action that we should regard as a standard of practice.

As the New Year is upon us, it may be helpful to stop and consider your role as a leader.

  1. Review your company's mission and value statements for your own clarification and make sure your actions support these goals. Democracy, above all was the driving principle for President Pries.
  2. Take on a "greater than you" project this year that will stretch your skills and yield rewarding results — these may include a project outside your core job responsibilities, mentoring a promising young professional or become a subject matter expert in a new content area.
  3. Take a moment to meet with your team and let them know how you value their work. I worked with a senior leader who sent thank you notes to all his team members during the month of January. It set a great tone for the year.
  4. Improve your physical fitness and build resilience.
  5. Plan your professional development for this year — workshops, conferences, executive coaching — How are you improving as a leader?

Doing the right thing as a leader is not always easy. There are many competing sources for your attention, but finding your balance in doing so is essential. There won't be a $5M prize for doing your job well but you can never tell where your great performance will take you.

 

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TED Talks

Camille Seaman takes photos all over the world and since 2003 she has concentrated on the regions of the North and South Pole. Watch her brief TED presentation to see her beautiful representation of glacial icebergs and at the end you will see something you have never seen before.

 

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Build Your Resilience

Do you know anyone or any organization that is not experiencing significant stress. Our old models of dealing with stress are not working and employee productivity, morale and commitment suffers as a result. My model of Stress Resilience provides an up to date approach to helping people embrace stress and use it to their advantage rather than having it work against them. My model is featured in the current edition of Employee Benefit News a trade magazine for HR professionals.

I will also be announcing a series of webinars to begin in March that will help you and your company address personal, team, and organizational resilience so that we can begin to change the conversation around stress in our work and personal life.

Best wishes for the New Year!

 

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