Is Your Organization Any Good For Your Next Level?

If not, I hope the next one will is.

I am a believer in mutual respect and mutual benefits. This way, any relationship will thrive and is sustainable. Having had my fair share of imbalanced relationships, especially in business dealings, I will always advocate for mutual respect where any form of symbiotic engagement is concerned.

This is the thought that runs on each side of the relationship, “I am only engaging because I think you are valuable to me”, a thought that may very well have begun with, “What’s in it for me?” I find this kind of thinking absolutely okay. It is characteristically used by those that understand their value or worth and will only engage where there is a surety of increased value or leverage that will give them some advantage. How much healthier when two entities engaging are of this persuasion?

In looking at the job market I see a skewed understanding in employer-employee engagement as far as this value concept is concerned. The typical scenario is, the organization is the mightier and of more value than the job seeker who is lesser and who must humble themselves and show cause. The job seeker will sometimes have to beg to just ‘earn some living’ or will almost be told “just accept whatever is given to you!” I beg to change this thinking. Walk with me.

Now, every recruitment process is all about finding that individual whose input in the department, team or organization will result in increased organizational value. They do not want a person that will have no effect in the growth and development of their enterprise. So they clearly spell out the kind of eligible candidates they are looking for. This means that they understand their worth and value and are looking for a person for their next level. They are seeking. It is an organizational need that must be met. This is where the game should change for you, particularly if you have the requisite qualifications; knowledge, expertise, experience and skills-set. Better yet if you have made the short list.

So while they are seeking, you are seeking too. You are two seekers. And you both want the best deal. Approach the interview, whatever the kind, with a sense of purpose seeking the same answers they will be seeking of you, “Is the organization good for you? Is it good for your next level? While you take them to the next level, what value will it add any to your next level? In so doing, you are cognizant of your worth and value. Engage the organization as you would engage a person, no matter the number of panelists you meet. This way, you will be engaging from a point of strength with the understanding that out of hundreds of applications, they picked out yours and shortlisted. That is no mean feat! They are saying, “We need you. We just hope we find you suitable.” In other words, “We hope we have some chemistry.”

During the interview, you will get to… “Do you have any questions for us?” This is a critical window that will either up your value or dip your chances. Grab it with both hands and demonstrate that you understand your value and seek to know what value the organization will be to you in the span of time you will be with them and whether it is any good for your next level. Perks aside.

You will need to ask intelligent questions around scope of work, size of team you will be leading or working with, future opportunities, building your capacity, organization’s reputation and goodwill and the like. Always remember, your value sets your perks, your perks do not determine your value. You limit yourself where your perks determine your value. This is why a few smart individuals will take up a lower paying job for the value it will bring them and after that it pays off significantly! As you demonstrate your suitability to them, have them demonstrate their suitability for you. And a few bold individuals have walked back to their old jobs when they found the interviewing organization wasn’t any good for their next level.

Recruiters, whether in-house or outsourced, who have this understanding are appreciative of individuals who demonstrate their value with tact, modesty and firmness in the interview room. These individuals will highly likely be picked for the positions for their great attitude and for demonstrating that they clearly understand the value of the organization, where it wants to go and how they fit in that picture. The interview room is refreshing every time this kind of candidate walks in. Suffice to say that recruiters are wary of an ‘anything goes candidate’ for they are no good. However, the attitude in some interview rooms needs a shift. The need to make the interviewee feel abased must stop. It is incumbent upon the interviewer to create an environment where both the organization and the candidate will negotiate the best value for their next levels with the goodwill to deliver. Getting the best talent today will be based on this attitude and not the fading intimidating posture in the wake of an enlightened and audacious pool. Can you envision an organization filled with this kind of talent performance-wise?

Though there may be a scarcity of jobs, do not settle for…, ‘you may not really choose what job to do’ narrative. This will become your undoing; you could end up staying there for the rest of your working years because that is your set-value.  You will agree that in this same scenario, there are individuals who land their desired vocation, there are those who continue working their dream jobs and getting fulfilled every day and then there are those who are successfully changing jobs, going for better value. What is unique about these fellows? It is in the attitude with which they approach the job market. They know their value. Whether entry level, or otherwise, set your value.

Are your goals clear? What are you joining the organization to do? What do you need to accomplish it? How long will it take you to accomplish it? What is your next level?  With this you are able to plot your value graph as you add value to the organization.

This value concept works for any other entities engaging, it serves to foster mutual respect for partners in business, supplier or service provider and organizations and others for mutual benefit. This is where the hand shake come in thereafter, “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.” It leaves the door open for further engagement in future. Where you do not know your value, you will always sell yourself short or be taken advantage of, with no apologies. Where this value concept is skewed it is a recipe for conflict. So save yourself some.

Next time, do not timidly tip-toe into the interview room. Get prepared, square your shoulders, arm yourself with a firm handshake as one that very well knows what your value is, walk boldly into that interview and negotiate your next level. You will be surprised.

Play for Your Shirt, Play for Pride

Play for Your Shirt, Play for Pride!

Play for Your Shirt, Play for Pride!

Its Saturday morning, the boys are away so there is no compe for the remote, so no cartoons ;-).

I am watching the repeat of the Spanish Super Cup Final, Second Leg pitting FC Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao. AB has not had a silver wear in their name in 21 years. They have a 3-0 advantage from their first leg; it is 1 all with 3 minutes extra time and an aggregate of 4-1 to their advantage. The Camp is silent except for a handful of AB’s supporters and bench who can smell silverware – at last! Doesn’t look like the mighty Barca are going to overturn this one even though they have had miraculous performances under the circumstances before.

Having watched numerous other matches with teams in the same scenario, both great and small fight even when it is clear that there will not be any recovery, I keep asking myself; what’s the point? Why fight so hard? Why waste energy…Accept and move on! (sic) The team going down will fight, sometimes with as much as half the time to a few extra time minutes to go. They must play their ninety minutes even if one team is 10 down. The losing team cannot say, “well, let’s be real here, there is no way we are coming back so just wrap this thing up and stop wasting everybody’s time.” The coach will yell from the touchline, the captain will issue commands on the field, the players will outdo themselves… and I would still be wondering, can you really get 3 goals in 3 minutes of extra time?

Well, with a little observation and thought I picked up three things that make these teams play hard even when ‘it makes no sense’ which taught me some life lessons…

It's not over until it's over, come on...

It’s not over until it’s over, come on…

  1. They must play their full time. It’s the rule of the game. Our lives consist of circumstances that have sets of ‘90 minutes of play’ that we must live through, and live the full time. If that is the case, then whether we are winning or having to soldier through difficult moments, we mustn’t stop until the situation we are facing comes full circle. They eventually do. Let it build in you endurance and staying power for tough times. It’s not done until it’s done, keep going.
  1. They build tenacity and staying power for future games during these loses. The losing bite and that bowed look as they brace the long ‘walk-of-shame’ to the dressing room does give them a reflection with a determination to do better in their next game, to win! Now that we are not giving up or stopping. How about making it count for something? Let the loss, struggle and challenge birth in you an unquenchable hunger for victory and winning in your next ‘game’. Prepare to win.
  1. The commentator in the dying seconds says, “It is done for Barcelona, but they are not slowing down, they are playing for the shirt, they are playing for pride!” – Loaded statement! Even when going down, go down with pride! Go down fighting for the jersey with your name on it, playing for your life! Even the best of teams with the best of talent go down sometimes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Let your going down in that circumstance be in pride! Hold your head high; your next 90 minutes counts on how you go down now and the season of your life depends on it!
Your next 90 or 120 minutes depends on it!

Your next 90 or 120 minutes depends on it!

Got to go back to the next match repeat, your guess is as good as mine, Mighty Man U vs Brugge. Great start to the Champions League chase. No?

Leadership Time Value – LTV


An interesting turn of events took place a few months ago at Kenya’s retail chain Uchumi Supermarkets where the ‘Turn-around King’, Jonathan Ciano was shown the door together with other executives for negligence and gross misconduct. Why? For getting Uchumi back to where it was in when he took over as CEO, in huge debt and on its knees. Make no mistake, Uchumi got out of the dungeons, became profitable even declared dividends to its shareholders in 2013 making Jonathan Ciano a case in Strategic Management and Managerial Economics in a number of MBA classes. Then this?

Here is my two cents.

These events speak to this concept of Leadership Time Value. LTV is the period within which a leader is deemed valuable to the organization or to a particular department or a specific position. At the same time, it is the period within which the organization, department or position adds value to the leader, much of a win-win scenario. This is also a #LeadershipSense that every leader must develop to be able to establish that delicate intersection where they have brought the best value to the organization and the organization has given them the best value, I call it the Best Value Point, BVP. This is the leader’s exit door.

At the BVP, the leader has achieved the desired outcomes and met the set out objectives. Depending on where different organizations stand, it could take to as many as short as 3 years to as long as over 10 years. Once this point is reached, there isn’t additional value for both the organization and the leader. He needs to leave.  If the person is a good leader, the systems he has set will ensure performance is maintained. Now, the leader needs to leave because he is done. It is what he has done that becomes his legacy. If the leader stays on, they will inevitably begin to erode the value they had brought into their symbiotic relationship because he begins to lose focus since he has done what he was meant to do which makes him vulnerable to ‘other objectives’. Performance will then plateau and eventually decline before it’s free fall. This is what happened to Ciano and Uchumi. They got past he BVP and did not shake hands and say, “It’s been real.” What followed is they eroded each other’s value until now even though Ciano may be a good business leader, as his credentials speak for him, he is no good in the business market now because of the tag, negligence and gross misconduct upon which he was fired.

Dr. Naikuni, another business leader almost got to Ciano’s stage but survived the plateau stage for a long time having gotten to the BVP, he and Kenya Airways were reaping good value, not talking perks here. He overstayed his welcome and left just when the national carrier was tipping to decline and we can only hope that Mbuvi Ngunze will prove his mettle. In Dr Naikuni’s class is Dr. Kidero who left Mumias Sugar clinging on straws. Examples are many.

Again, these may not necessarily be bad leaders; they just lacked the #LeadershipSense of LTV and failed to identify their BVP. A good leader will look bad on that account.

DNKCB2911f Therefore every leader must establish that BVP and draw his own terms, especially at the CEO level. It is not the Boards call. When a leader misses the BVP point, it will make him look bad sooner or later! A good leader sets his time, when it’s time, it’s time. That is why you have to respect the likes of Dr. Martin Oduor Otieno, a level five leader who saw his BVP, ensured he has groomed a successor and left Kenya Commercial Bank. Others in his class in my view would be Polycarp Igathe, formerly of Haco Industries now MD Vivo Energy and chair of Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Mugo Kibati, formerly CEO of East African Cables and Vision 2030 DG now Chair of Turkana Wind Energy and Mohammed Hersi, now CEO Heritage Hotels and formerly GM Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa.

Always remember, an organization is only as good as its functional leadership.

What class would you like to join?