A Passion for Leadership

The dream of prosperity for Kenya, and Africa in general, will remain a mirage if the status quo is maintained. To prosper, the continent demands a significant paradigm shift in leadership. This is the blatant assessment by Allan Bukusi, a Corporate Leadership Team Development Consultant at Management Decision Information (MDI).

The need for a total shift in ‘Thinking Leadership in Africa’ emanates from the fact leaders have failed to realise that the continent’s problems must be dealt at the people level. “Leaders must appreciate that the people hold the key to development,” he says. He adds that over the years, leaders in the continent have been prescribing political solutions that do not inspire economic solutions and economic solutions that do not inspire employment and wealth solutions.

The disconnects are quite evident. Take for instance the case of Kenya, East Africa’s leading economy. The country has only three registered businesses for every 1,000 people. Compared to a country like Singapore where there are 11 businesses for every 100 people, it explains the high rate of unemployment. For Kenya to realise the dream of transforming to middle level economy in line with the Vision 2030 mantra and address the acute problem of unemployment, the country must find a formula to create 2.5 million enterprises over the next 16 years. This translates to 156,250 enterprises annually.

Is this feasible? According to Bukusi, it is not unless there is a total shift in leadership. “We need to make enterprise a course. For this to happen, the country calls for paradigm shift in leadership,” he says. In essence, the country needs to retrace it’s track back to 2002 when the country was voted the most optimistic nation on the globe following the euphoric trouncing of the Kanu regime and coming into power of the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) government in the 2002 general elections. Tragically, the optimism lasted for less than six months.

This event, however, inspired Bukusi to start looking at leadership not only in Kenya but in Africa more critically and prompted him to make a conscious decision to make a difference. “I want to influence leadership in Africa,” he states. This he does in many ways. Bukusi is a co-director with his wife in three firms that are distinctly dedicated to the mantra of leadership in Africa. These firms are MDI, Leadership Academy and Africa Leadership & Social Development Centre (ALSDC) all of which focus on education, leadership training, publishing and management consultancy with the overall objective of impacting on leadership across the political class, companies and the general spheres of life.

MDI, which is the holding company, was established in 1994 as a consultancy firm offering human resources development services to medium and large enterprises in all sectors of the economy. The firm adds value to clients by strengthening human resources, leadership and organization management competences that are critical for growth. “We add value by facilitating the development and empowering our clients to achieve their objectives,” explains Bukusi. He adds that programs include management development, selling skills, quality customer service, performance appraisal, training of trainers, interview skills, supervisory skills, teamwork as well as facilitating strategy and program workshops.

Leadership Academy, on its part, is a school that is dedicated to training the next generation of leaders. The academy offers the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) system but with the emphasis of moulding the whole person in terms of academics and values.

“We develop the character of the whole person both in academics and virtues,” he explains, adding that although the 8-4-4 system is competitive, it is wanting in terms of values and is to a large extent responsible for the myriad of challenges facing the country. ALSDC oversees the management and development of the physical and training facility owned by MDI.

For more than two decades, Bukusi has been proactive in impacting the continent’s leadership, influencing companies on issues related to strategy, change, management, employees among others and also by training future leaders who are instilled with important virtues that the country desperately requires. Bukusi, who is well known as an author, teacher and entrepreneur, has also written several books among them Thinking Leadership in Africa, Training For Transformation, How to Prosper in Employment, Corporate Transformation and many more.

One of the books, Thinking Leadership in Africa, is quite provocative as it dissects the triumphant, treacherous and turbulent tale of leadership in Africa through centuries past to the present day and calls for a decisive leadership development strategy for a prosperous tomorrow. It notes that perceptive leadership will prepare Africa to face tomorrow’s challenges by posing the question whether the leadership in the continent will be ready to face global realities awaiting them in 2055.

Due to his innate passion for leadership and the believe that no single person can claim monopoly of ideas, Bukusi has not shied away from expanding his horizon in terms of his views on leadership. Sometime in 2010, Bukusi was introduced to the Masters of Arts in Leadership (MAL) program at Pan Africa Christian (PAC) University by a friend. At the time, he had realised that he was at a point of plateau and needed re-energising and was already sourcing for leadership programs abroad. “In 2010 we had plateaued and wanted new energy to move ahead, both personally and the enterprise,” he explains, adding that it was important to go back to school seeking for new knowledge that could help transform his business and drive it to the next level of growth.

The same year he enrolled at PAC University and as it turned out, the MAL program was a blessing in many aspects. This is because the program was philosophically transformative in terms of changing his view of leadership and opening his world to result-based leadership.

According to Bukusi, the program is packaged in 12 units that are captivating and provocative in transforming the way of thinking. “Not many people can be able to define leadership but the program unpacks for you the different aspects of leadership,” he explains, adding the program is instrumental in helping modify the real world.

Based on the knowledge accrued from the program, Bukusi is re-thinking a new strategic direction that will propel growth for the various divisions of MDI. One area that MDI is determined to exploit is the counties, which offer massive opportunities particularly in areas of human resource and strategic thinking. Another area is in corporate social responsibility. “We have been operating at equilibrium for many years but now we are looking at the bigger picture.

We want to transform the business to a multi-million enterprise,” he states. Notably, MDI will continue putting leadership on top of its strategies because of the belief that leadership can unlock Kenya’s, and Africa’s, full potentials. Personally, Bukusi has enrolled for a doctorate at the International Leadership University.

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