Tag Archives: leadership

10 Leadership Lessons – A case of Zimbabwe and its former “CEO”

Picture Courtesy of SundayMag.TV

The unfolding changes in the Zimbabwean political landscape read both like a fiction novel or a script from the next James Bond movie. The twists, turns, plots and execution of ideas caused anxiety as people waited in bated breath to know the fate of the once feared and indomitable President of Zimbabwe, Cde. Robert Gabriel Mugabe whose era ended on 21 November 2017 after 37 years. This is an action-packed end of an era and hopefully the start of a new era for the Zimbabwean population. Those who are students of leadership and business have a lot to learn from the organization called Zimbabwe; which unfortunately has been run for over 37 years with the same CEO. The CEO received messages and suggestions that pointed to the fact that in order to preserve his legacy he needed to pass on the leadership baton in time before “absolute power corrupted him absolutely”. This fell on deaf ears and in fact any such further suggestions were met with not only stiff resistance but seen as a way of overthrowing a “legitimate and constitutionally elected government”. Many still carry open court cases while others have disappeared through abductions among other consequences of David coming into direct confrontation with Goliath. What then are lessons for leaders and would-be leaders?

1. You are not the only source of ideas – It is important to realise that organizational success is not because you are the only brilliant person around. It comes when you take heed to advice you get from those in your team. There will be fresh ideas that seem to suggest newer ways of doing things, your role is to listen and deliberate on the ideas even if they seem to unsettle you. It is for your own good.

2. Read the signs of the time and act – Maturity is in being sensitive to the symptoms of decay around you. No matter how great musician is, the show comes to an end. Read the non-verbal cues and give people what they want. Leave the stage when people still want you not when missiles flood your dance space.

3. Watch out for false praise – By virtue of being a leader, people in your team naturally respect you and a number of them will not tell you the truth but simply give you what you want to hear. The technical term for this is “boot licking”. Do not surround yourself with “yes men” but rather voices of reason. Praise singers will encourage to wear your non-existent suit knowing well that it exposes your nakedness. Examine the advice you get from those who you think are close to you. Don’t gulp every piece of debris they traffic in.

4. The bad you do tend to erase the good – No one is perfect. There is no doubt that in the course of life and more-so in leadership there will be mistakes that are made. Always take stock to ensure that the bad you are doing will not cause people in your team to reach a tipping point where they forget all the great things you did. It is impossible to please everyone and remain sane but at least try and please some people not infuriate even your closest allies.

5. Leadership is about the people; period – It is good to carry a vision and be sold out to achieving the dreams. In the process, the danger is that as a leader you can easily forget the fact that the vision you have is for the people. Customers remains kings and queens. You are in your position to serve them and the moment it becomes about you and your family then you have started on a decline journey.

6. Leadership is about leading not taking sides – Leaders do not take sides, they take over in moments of crisis. You cannot be found as a CEO meddling in cat fights that happen between people you lead. You are the unifier of personalities, you remain the voice of reason, you made decision objectively not emotionally. Once you take sides you lose respect of the side that you have ignored. More importantly you sink with the boat you have decided to jump on. Ask yourself why you are on the side you have picked.

7. Leaders take people into the future not the past – If you daily talk is about blaming everything on the past except yourself then you have missed the plot. Leaders inspire people to dream more, be more and become more. You cannot focus your energy on mending the old ruins when people want to be led towards building new fresh castles. History is a subject people learn in school but they would rather put their eyes on what can be rather than dwell entirely on what used to be.

8. Admit your mistakes and learn from them – Not every decision will come out right. Not every move the CEO makes will be the best. Some decisions are detrimental to progress. However, leadership is about admitting your own short-comings and making a resolve to open a new chapter. Mistakes are there to teach us. Life is a university where there is no graduation. When you are a leader you do not cease to have a human face. Still err, you stumble, you remain a mortal with limitations. Do not refuse to learn.

9. Leadership is not about what suits you only – You are the CEO of an organization because you have the mandate of the ones who appointed you to bring value to the table. Ultimately it is not about the comfort of the CEO but achievement the expectations of what those who appointed you. There are benefits that accrue to your appointment, try and be content with what your reward says you have access to. You don’t become the company no matter how long you serve as CEO. Do not be too comfortable as you can be removed from your position when your value add is no longer evident.

10. People must follow you willingly not out of fear – Leadership is a walk of legitimacy. People around you must want to follow you not out of fear of punishment but because you are worth following. Exhibit qualities they respect and you will get the honor necessary. As long as you frog march people to follow you then you are on a slippery path to illegitimacy and irrelevance.

Sight-Full Leadership Toolbox

Sight-Full Leader’s Model (c) Rabison Shumba

One of the greatest pains of our generation is not hunger nor disease. It is not even poverty and lack of employment. There is evidently pain in communities, companies and indeed nations linked to lack of sound, ethical and robust leadership. The success or failure we see in companies across the world and more-so in Africa is linked to failure on the side of leadership to steer the businesses in the right direction. Some of those fissures and gaps have been evident in the results that companies post, lack of innovation and dismal failure to build a leadership pipeline to carry the organization forward. African economies have had their fair share of instability which has had direct impact on the sustainability of companies within the respective economies. Failure to craft survival strategies have caused a spiral in corporate failure. One can also not ignore the scourge of lack of sound corporate governance as a key determinant for successful companies. With all this in mind, the question that lingers is “what next, how do we correct this situation?”. Below are a few practical tools necessary for leadership success on our dynamic continent.

  1. Hindsight – every organization has corporate memory. It has a past, which every leader should examine in order to see what the success and failure points of the organization have been. You cannot set your foot in the correct place as you assume leadership of any organization without a fair grasp of where the organization has been. Even the pains of the past can be great lessons for today going into the future. Hindsight can be in the media, internal documentation on performance among other sources. Make use of that information to establish direction as you will likely see what has not worked or not been tried. Every organization has some sort of footprint and more importantly reputation stored in its customers’ minds. Finding that wealth of information is critical. Hindsight answers a critical question “What has really happened”.
  2. Insight – Leadership is about exercising wisdom. Wisdom is gathered from observation of the status quo before crafting a new normal. One should have a fair grasp of the current state of affairs by analyzing the key stakeholders and their involvement in organizational success. Such stakeholders and sources of wisdom include staff, regulators, governments, competitor activity, suppliers among others. Your leadership success is to the degree that you have the pulse of the business on your dashboard daily. When you see red flags that is a sign or pointer for you to take immediate corrective action. Sadly, many executives have ignored red flags to the detriment of their organisations. It may seem like an insignificant risk today but it can grow in severity and soon enough you are at the helm of a monument. Insight answers the question “Why did it happen?”.
  3. Foresight – It is tragic that many leaders in organisations have resorted to a mindset that focusses on “here and now” as opposed to having sound vision of where we need to be in times to come. It is as if leaders feel they need to only fight the present fires, get what they want and leave the ship to glide into an unknown future with them outside it and safely in another organization somewhere. The present turbulences and circumstances should never scuttle a leader’s conviction on what can be. It is important to keep that vision visible and in the faces of your people. If you fail to sell anything in your life, find time to sell vision which is the foresight that you share with your leadership. In tough times, employees can only hold onto vision. Foresight will help answer the question “What will happen in the future?”
  4. Oversight – It is seemingly obvious that every leader must have oversight of the success and goings on in their territory but a number of leaders have run away from this responsibility over time. Change is an ongoing process especially in Africa. When leaders snooze, their organisations lose. Never be caught “sleeping on the wheel”. In having oversight, one has to ensure they remain accountable to all governing authorities as well as ensure compliance with regulators. Leaders must be solution bearers, ensuring that with every challenge that is faced internally or externally there are corresponding solutions. Leaders must never run away when the boat is rocking. That is the time to take responsibility over what happens next.

Africa needs you, it’s time to spring up and lead!!

40 Guidelines for Effective Leadership


  1. Leaders serve, they do not wait to be served. If your desire to serve others is overpowered by your willingness to be of service to them then you effectiveness is compromised.
  2. Leaders are passionate about developing other pro-active leaders not just making followers who always wait for instructions like robots.
  3. Leaders are team players and team builders not referees. As a leader, desist from just being a spectator. Get your hands dirty.
  4. Leaders know that they will not do all the work alone hence they delegate tasks to members of the team. Through delegation they are able to see areas where extra coaching and mentoring is needed.
  5. Leaders take responsibility for non-delivery. They will not pass the bark. They will not hide from their own mistakes. Instead they come out to help fix problems even if they did not cause them.
  6. Leaders always strive for continual improvement. They do not rest on yesterday’s successes but rather they use those achievements as today’s pedestals.
  7. Leaders have vision. They are not stuck in the past but they always set their eyes on the horizon. They always have the future in mind as they build.
  8. Leaders are great at managing conflict. As a leader you will always have people around you. Multiple individuals in one space means conflict.
  9. Leaders have high integrity. You cannot demand that your team members be of high integrity standards that you are not willing to abide by. Do what you say you will do.
  10. Leaders are role models – Team members do what they see the leader tolerating not what the leader instructs.
  11. Leaders are strategic in their thinking and approach.  They spend most of their time plotting strategy of how to keep the organisation moving forward.
  12. Leaders have people at heart. People will work best in an atmosphere where they feel their leader cares about their well-being not just about results. A leader who nurtures others is productive.
  13. Leaders are great listeners. Leaders encounter people with issues from time to time. Take time to hear them before jumping to your pre-conceived conclusions.
  14. Leaders welcome ideas from those around them. They encourage team members to innovate and bring ideas to the table. They don’t stifle creativity.
  15. Leaders take time to discover their personal weaknesses and finding effective ways to counter or contain them. Self awareness is a crucial element of effective leaders. Before you lead others you must lead yourself well.
  16. Leaders are secure and confident in themselves. They don’t intimidate rising stars and neither are they jealous of them.
  17. Leaders are great communicators. As a leader you will always be communicating vision, goals and strategy therefore communication is a pivotal element for buy-in from staff and teams.
  18. Leaders are not consumed by titles but by creating value for the organisation especially through the people employed there-in.
  19. Leaders persevere even in the face of obvious persecution, adversity, pain and obstruction. They remain calm while focussing on keeping the dream alive.
  20. Leaders are not afraid of criticism. As a leader you are in the spotlight. Every move you make receives a response from those around you. You are therefore not immune to scrutiny.
  21. Leaders are optimistic. Optimists see mistakes as learning opportunities, not as catastrophes from which they’ll never recover.
  22. Leaders take risks. Developing great leadership stamina entails getting out of the seat of comfort by setting “stretch” goals that enable them to develop new skills.
  23. Leaders create a positive culture that drives organisational excellence and attainment of goals or targets. If your staff have a sour attitude, trace back to see if you did not encourage it.
  24. Leaders break barriers and walls of limitation. Great leaders refuse to be contained in a given space. They rather choose to define how far they want to go despite circumstances.
  25. Leaders spend quality time planning and even more time implementing their ideas. They are great dreamers but they are not hesitant to make their ideas practical.
  26. Leaders always raise the bar. Set standards and define expectations. Failure to challenge staff to aim higher and achieve more results in the organisation achieving mediocre results.
  27. Leaders are great at balancing their time between work, rest and other responsibilities outside the confines of their organisation. They lead a balanced life.
  28. Leaders always seek to expand their level of awareness and exposure. Leaders read and travel widely. They use every opportunity to learn ways to build stronger organisations.
  29. Leaders work with a succession plan in mind. They set their eyes even towards the period when they retire and begin to groom potential successors deliberately.
  30. Leaders are loyal to their vision and dreams. They will not hide or keep silent when others trample over their own exploits. They always find ways to safeguard their dreams.
  31. Leaders offer recognition of the efforts and achievements of their team members thereby inspiring them towards even greater achievements. They go a step further to reward performance.
  32. Great leaders are decisive and resolute. They make decisions and stand by them all the way. Team members become insecure around a leader whose decisions are never solid.
  33. Leaders manage information well. As a leader you will receive a lot of personal sensitive information. Learn to maintain confidentiality and publicise your staff’s information.
  34. Leaders develop relationships of trust with their staff members. As a result team members open up where they face challenges in executing their roles or even at a personal level.
  35. True leaders are selfless with their success. They reward those stakeholders who helped them to rise as well as making a difference in the communities they operate.
  36. Leaders are able to adjust to change but more importantly they cause change to happen. They are not stuck in the old way of doing business. They swiftly move with the times.
  37. Leaders have sharpened attention to see and seize opportunities. They do not wait for consensus while opportunities vanish. They enjoy meeting the needs of people and by so doing they create revenues for their businesses.
  38. Leaders go against the grain creating a new status quo. They are not comfortable by what already exists. They seek to venture into territories that others shy away from. That is how they become success stories.
  39. Leaders value people who think differently than them. They do not see that as disrespect. Rather they try to use alternative suggestions to sharpen their own ideas further.
  40. Leaders are not manipulative of those they lead. They let them have free space to exercise their own judgement and decision making power without fear of reprisal.

Fountain of Inspiration Volume 1 is out!!!

My life is dedicated towards the inspiration of others towards greatness. That is how I sum-up my purpose for existence. To do that, I speak and write inspirational messages that seek to take you from where you are to where you are supposed to be. My new book, “Fountain of Inspiration Vol. 1” offers just that. There are 13 incredible chapters with 70 inspirations in each chapter. It makes it the premier book of inspiration. Read below what Brian Tracy, Dr. John Stanko and many others said about the book. You can also order this hardback by clicking here.

"Fountain of Inspiration Vol. 1", Rabison Shumba's New book

A few of the endorsements of this book:

“This book gives you a series of powerful, practical tools and ideas you can use to unleash your personal power for success. I recommend this great tool indeed.”
Brian Tracy. President of Brian Tracy International, Motivational Speaker,
Consultant & Best Selling Author of over 55 Books, such as No Excuses, Eat that Frog!
Solana Beach, California, USA

“Rabison Sumba has done it again.  He has shared with us out of the abundance of his heart and what we have in this book is a veritable feast of wisdom, insight, and inspiration.  You can literally dive into any part of this book and receive pearls of wisdom about life, leadership, purpose and productivity.  An old adage that states, “A man cannot lead you where he has not been himself.”  Rabison leads us to the place where he lives and draws life, and gives away what he has paid a high price to receive. Thank you, Rabison, for sharing so freely.”
Dr. John Stanko – President of PurposeQuest International,
Author of over 10 books including “Unlocking the Power of Purpose”, Conference Speaker
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

“A well planned meal of inspirational wisdom is how I would describe this gift by Rabison Shumba. I suggest that you turn the pages slowly and read thoughtfully. To read too quickly, one might overlook the depth of thought that went into each phrase. As I read one thought of wisdom after the other, I wanted to take each one apart and find even more. The gift left me with the notion that we all matter regardless of the circumstances of our start. The embrace of individual ‘unselfishness’ is key to long term success for self and others. This was so clear to me.  Such a gift has tremendous application for building a positive infrastructure of relationships in any arena where people gather.”
Clifton L. Taulbert – Founder & President of the Building Community Institute
Pulitzer-Nominated Author & International Lecturer on the Power of Community
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

“It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the negative news to which we are regularly exposed. This collection of short, but powerful pieces of wisdom can be your antidote. With his personal insights on a variety of topics, you can’t help by feel inspired by Rabison Shumba’s writings!”
Charlotte Weeks – President of  Weeks Career Services, Inc.,
Former Co-author “101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career”
Consultant and Author of “I Want to Work in an Association – Now What??”
Chicago, Illinois,  USA

Where to get this book

You can purchase the book in print in Zimbabwe from Innov8 Bookshop, Insignia and many other outlets. You can order a print copy or e-book from here. Get a copy and be inspired.

7 Spicy thoughts from Saltlake City

As you have come to know me, I get my inspiration whenever I am awake. Whatever my eyes and ears come into contact with sends a trigger on in the inspiration conveyer belt. I have enjoyed my stay in this very interesting city in Utah called Saltlake City. Below are 7 spicy thoughts (not too salty).

1.  The result of lack of information or not having enough knowledge about a thing or and institution always leads to skepticism. If religions could take time to assimilate and be tolerant of each other, their voice and message becomes even stronger.

2. Everyone needs an outlet for the innermost emotions and feelings. No matter how much you can suppress your emotions, they tend to erupt at the wrong time. Therefore, take time to listen to the soft cry of the voiceless. You can save a life by simply listening.

3. Ever realized that we are usually blind to or unaware of how blessed we are until we hear a story of someone in a worse state. Do not become so accustomed to what you have to a point of not realizing how blessed you are.

4. Whenever an economy crumbles, the greatest pain is felt by the majority who were in lack all along. As legistlators, make laws with a greater focus on those who do not have as they get forgotten easily only to be remembered on the next election date.

5. Never be too shy to ask for money which you intend to use to make a difference. There are many people who do not even have an idea how they can use their fortune. If someone ask for your financial assistance, they see potential in you to meet their need. What an honor.

6. A good leader strives to meet all the promises he/she makes no matter how costly or impossible it may seem. It is therefore important to know what you are committing to with your own mouth. You are judged more based on what you have delivered against your original promise. In the worst case, communicate with those you promised in the event of any shift in your plans.

7.  It is always wise to make sure your own house is in order before you focus on helping those around you. The need around you is great and it will be so for some time to come. It is possible that you can make a good name out there when your family lives in neglect.