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Lonely at the top? CEOs now unveil own lobby

 CEOs lobby is meant to provide a platform for CEOs to share ideas, learn from each other, and also get business opportunities. [iStockphoto]

If you desire to be a company boss or you are already one, integrity, being principled, having the right rhythm and humility are some of the attributes you need to excel in your role.

This was the recurring theme at a forum of chief executives when they unveiled the first CEOs Association in Kenya.

The association is meant to provide a platform for CEOs to share ideas, learn from each other, and also get business opportunities.

It ropes in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), as well as multinationals and its membership, and is also open to boards of directors across industries.

The forum sought to know what makes a holistic CEO?

Africa International University (AIU) Vice Chancellor Prof Dankit Nassiuma cited humility and integrity as important values for a holistic CEO.

AIC University is known for its leadership and governance academic programmes.

"When David became so powerful, he realised he could take anything from anyone," said Prof Nassiuma, referencing the story of King David in the Bible.

"You have to have the humility to handle power excesses. If you fail in that, you fail in everything."

He noted pride as a career killer for CEOs. And considering CEOs deal with many issues as business administrators and managers, Prof Nassiuma said they need to have an understanding of the organisation's systems.

Getting accepted

"If you are in that space for the sake of money without skills, you will have a problem in terms of delivery, getting accepted by other people and moving the organisation forward," he said.

Added Prof Nassiuma: "You also need to have your life under something bigger. When your life is under God, it makes a difference."

Cityscape Trends Services Chief Executive Mary Thuo said a CEO should be principled and should have values and principles that they cannot compromise or violate and which are known to everyone.

"You must wear your code of ethics on your sleeves," she said.

A holistic CEO is also not complete without "rhythm," according to Alpha International Regional Director Kingston Ogango. He said a CEO's work-life balance should be in rhythm.

Mr Ogango said one should, for instance, be aware of what is happening in their family. It also raises questions like what is your spiritual life and how does it affect your work life?

He noted that you cannot always balance everything on a scale, but you can attain a rhythm. "Sometimes, not everything is always balanced, but ask yourself, are you in control of your family, children other circumstances," he said.

"For me, God comes first, then everything follows," said Mr Ogango.

Lead by example

A holistic CEO, he said, should also lead by example. If they profess a certain belief or conviction, then it should be seen in practice.

"Do people see what you say in practice?" he posed. "You can say you are a good Christian, but do they see it in practice? Or you can say you are ethical, but do they see it in practice?"

The discussion culminated in the launch of the CEOs Association, which according to its founding chairman Rogers Odima, is meant to provide a platform for mentorship, networking and expanding businesses.

"We aim to sharpen each other in terms of leadership," he said.

The association's membership is drawn from startups to multinationals as well as not-for-profit and for-profit organisations.

"I am a management consultant. It takes a lot for a CEO to pay to get a consultant. If you meet your peer, he could tell you 'I had this challenge' or 'this is how I grew in this,' and you get advice free of charge," said Mr Odima.

He said some CEOs find it challenging to share their personal struggles and sometimes miss opportunities to improve their leadership skills. But through the new lobby, it is hoped they will have a platform to share their challenges and seek solutions from each other.

"Through this, they will create collaboration opportunities in networking and support each other in other areas of growth. People have become markets to each other," said Mr Odima.

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