Authenticity, the Hallmark of Effective Leadership
The business environment today is competitive, and it has become even more relevant for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and individuals at Senior Management level to continuously work on their personal brands. A compelling personal brand in the business world boils down to one question; Can I Trust You? A leader ought to be someone others can rely on to act with integrity, have their best interests at heart and honor their reputation in the market place.
Caroline Mutoko, Radio Africa’s Group Marketing Manager, Program Controller Kiss 100 and alumna of Strathmore Business School’s The Effective Director Programme, addressed CEO’s during the CEO Apprenticeship Program (Uganda) module in Nairobi under the topic, ‘Working on my CEO Brand’, sharing her experiences on what it takes to be an authentic yet compelling leader.
In her remarks, Ms. Mutoko placed emphasis on the need for leaders to define their brand and to have a personal leadership statement that will guide strategic conversations as well as their modus operandi. “A brand is a promise made, a promise delivered,” said Ms. Mutoko. “Employees more often than not have expectations of their leaders which must be addressed in a tactical manner, with a view of allaying any doubts and getting relevant stakeholder buy-in. In addition, a CEO must be aware of the fact that his or her brand will be determined not only by people’s expectations but also by what is said when he or she is not in the room. To this end, it is imperative that the CEO communicates his or her clear expectations to employees. Further to this a leader must always remember that the choice of words used in conversations, voice and language will largely influence people’s perceptions.”
On being a visionary leader, Ms. Mutoko noted that iconic leaders are those who have visions that are big enough to scare them. “Indeed, the African continent does need bold leaders who are willing to shoot for the stars and raise the leadership bar. Africa is desperate for leaders, for we are not poor but, poorly led.”
She urged the CEO Apprenticeship participants to always work with the end in mind as this will be their main reference point when making decisions and most importantly, a great source of encouragement during turbulent times. In addition to this, a leader must stand for one thing passionately and continuously communicate it with a sense of commitment.
Referring to the 2019 Brand Index global rankings, Ms. Mutoko expressed her concern at the poor ranking of African brands, despite the potential on the continent. The rankings clearly demonstrated that Africans did not believe in their own brands hence the low rank. This begs the questions, has the African brand been defined? Does the public understand what the African brand stands for? She went on to challenge the leaders in the classroom, “Go forth and define the African brand as you define your brand.”
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Caroline Mutoko admitted that while working on a strong personal brand seems an arduous task, it is the key to intentional and effective leadership. It requires that one has a strong support system that will keep him or her accountable and committed to the promises made. In the pursuit of developing one’s brand, it is important for leaders to remember that they cannot do everything alone. Delegation of tasks therefore becomes a key skill that will prevent a leader from breaking down and encourage continuity through empowering those who are below him or her.
About the CEO Apprenticeship Programme
The CEO Apprenticeship Programme (CAP) was designed to attract relatively young but experienced Ugandans, female and male, to establish peer and CEO networks, offer training and basic coaching to prepare them to become future CEOs. It was launched in January 2013, with 30 delegates who interacted in a coaching experience with two Uganda-based CEOs each session, every Saturday of the month from January through December 2013. These sessions allow 24 CEOs (Uganda and Kenya based) to share their experiences in running businesses and provide a platform to learn as well as network as future CEOs.