When I was younger I was in a hurry to influence my world in two powerful ways: build leaders and create wealth. I’ve been working on both for the last two decades but now I’m going back to go forward. Here’s why. First, leaders.
WHO WE ARE FIRST
The year was 2003. I was still in medical school, in Accra, Ghana. After I cast vision to a group of eight others that would eventually become The HuD Group and go global, we hit the ground running. With all our Youth Power!, we were in such haste to “inspire and empower young people to discover their God-given purpose and reach their full potential” that we jumped some steps. I was barely 25. Of course, helping people find purpose is exciting, especially for emerging leaders, and everyone wants to have a raison d’être.
However, it wasn’t until my late thirties that it came to me in the strongest sense that something vital comes before purpose. Knowing who we are precedes knowing what we’re here for. Identity comes before purpose. In fact, until during my Master’s in Global Leadership (2016-2019), I wasn’t yet fully convinced that who we are is more important than what we do. But it is! Oh yes, who we are is more important than what we do, not just because we are human beings and not human doings (as is popularly said, tongue-in-cheek, these days) but significantly because who we are really determines what we do and how we do it!
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since those heady days at the dawn of this new millennium and the group has seen many successes, including expanding to two dozen countries on every inhabitable continent in the world! Yet at the same time, we’ve also experienced once-promising trained leaders (in vision, mission, values, strategy and leadership skills) mess up big time because they weren’t self-aware first: of their life narrative, personality, temperament, history/heritage, genogram, values, core beliefs & worldview, emotions (moods, passions etc.), shadows (‘false self’), giftedness, strengths & weaknesses, biases & blindspots, leadership & communication styles, preferences, motivations (extrinsic and intrinsic), habits & tendencies, limits/boundaries, their physicality etc. If you think this is a long list, you’re right. There is a lot of self-awareness, self compassion, self acceptance and self self to be done to not just self actualize but to lead others in a meaningful way.
A FRIEND TO THE RESCUE
My friend Carson Pue and I live on opposite sides of the second largest country on earth (Canada) but one thing often brings us together, in-person or online: leader development. When I came across his ‘Mentorship Matrix’ (diagram above) in his book Mentoring Leaders, I clearly saw pictorially where and how we had tripped. We were in a hurry to get to Step #3 (visioneering/discovering purpose) and hadn’t been spending enough time in Step #1 (self-discovery). And for Pue, as a faith-based leadership trainer, Step #1 consists of double knowledge of both self-discovery and God discovery. There actually is a lot that has been said and written on how we cannot know ourselves without knowing God (the creator in whose image we’ve been made) and vice versa. See here for more.
If we had spent enough time delving into what should be first and core, it would naturally reveal what should happen in Step #2, the emotional and other needs that need to be then satisfied (and how), as well as things one needs to be set free from before attempting to reach forward with discovering purpose and running with it.
I am not alone in this discovery. Increasingly in leadership development world there is this growing area addressing the psychodynamics of leadership, as we are more and more finding the best Ivy-league trained leaders in the top Fortune 500 spaces in the world doing really stupid stuff out of the blue! No one is above Steps #1 & 2. And if we don’t make the time to dig out and cement those foundations well, we are bound to produce shooting stars and not sustainable leadership for the long haul.
GOING BACK TO GO FORWARD
Now we’re back on the drawing board and relaying foundations to ensure that we start right and end well, beginning from the core of self-awareness and the dealing with anything that will entangle, choke or derail the leadership course further down the road. In my Twi language from Ghana there is a word and concept known as “Sankofa.” It literally translates as “go back and get it” and is symbolized by either a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. My leadership development legs may have false-started from Step #3 with fleet feet facing forward but now my neck is turned with my head reaching back to Steps #1 and #2 to pick up that which was vital but I left behind. My ancestral language has a saying, that when you go back to pick up something valuable that you inadvertently left behind, it is no wrong, and well within reason and one’s rights. That is one of two things I build differently now.
Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.
That ‘Pease Porridge’ Mother Goose nursery rhyme is a succinct summary of the biases, tendencies, idiosyncrasies and preferences we all have such that without a certain degree of intentionality we might never do one thing or the other at all because it simply isn’t my thing.
In my medical school days, I found it über interesting that each specialist professor would talk about their field with such passion and all-importance as if the whole body were an eye or liver or skin or heart or bones or whatever. No matter the medical condition, they would find a cause or effect related to their darling body part. In fact, we believed there were consultants who could literally hear and spot diagnose a heart murmur without a stethoscope just by walking into the consulting room!
In leader formation, I have also found that depending on the trainer or coach’s personal preferences, biases or sweet spot, they zoom in on one area (eg. character development or strategy or organizational culture) to the detriment of other equally important aspects of leader formation.
During my Master of Arts in Global Leadership at Fuller, I encountered a schema for the programme which I fell in love with. I have since adapted it as ‘7 Inputs & Outcomes of Leader Formation’ at YAW PERBI, providing a framework and basis, process and end product for our leader formation, whether via coaching or consulting, in our authoring of resources, and certainly in our speaking and training. Here it is (diagram below).
THE SEVEN LEADERSHIP FOOD GROUPS
Your body needs a nutritional balance of carbohydrates and proteins, fats/oils, minerals and vitamins. This is accomplished through food groups like grains, milk products, meats, fruits and vegetables. Similarly, your head, heart and hands require these seven ‘food groups’ to nourish and form the basis of leader development:
1. Classically Informed Practice: This is the origin and objective of leadership. Classical means ancient. Fuller’s original is Biblically-informed for obvious reasons but while that is true for us at YAW PERBI, we also include Ancient African, Asian and Greek/Latin literature (Aristotle, Socrates, Plato). The point of rooting leader formation in a meta narrative is that many people consider the whole area of leadership/leadership development as a creation of Western business schools and or even the modern American management industry but no. The art and science of leadership dates back 6,000 years in scripture, and with the likes of Akhenaten, King of Egypt (1380-1334 BC), Moses (1391-1271 BC), Lao Tzu (604-531), Cyrus the Great (600-530BC), Confucius (551-479 BC), Plato (427-347 B), Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Cicero (106-43 BC) throughout history.
2. Character Development: Constitutes the heart of leadership. At the end of the day, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. As I’ve heard it said time and again, charisma without character is a disaster waiting to happen. Invariably it does. That character is the bedrock of authentic and long-lasting leadership cannot be overemphasized.
3. Reflective Lifestyle: Herein lies the rhythm of leadership. This isn’t one of Fuller’s original six. I included it after a meeting with a group of senior leaders mentoring emerging leaders in Africa. Dr. Joshua Bogunjoku, my senior medical colleague and big brother who is the international director for SIM really passionately brought the necessity for stillness, silence, introspection and such to the fore to which I agreed and couched this indispensable ingredient.
4. Missional Community: This is the goal of leadership. Leadership is about serving and influencing a group of people (community) towards a certain noble purpose (cause). That cause or mission, according to my worldview, is a subset of a meta narrative known as the missio Dei that must ultimately bring glory to the God of the universe, benefit creation (people being chief among creation) and vanquish evil. Without a flourishing community on this vital three-fold mission, what the heck is leadership for?
5. Global Diversity: It goes without saying that we live in a global village, made even tighter still by the meta internet connectivity in this Covid-19 era. Not even spatial distancing can change the closeness. It is not uncommon for leaders today to have team members strewn across different timezones and having worldview, cultural beliefs and ethnic values that are very different. Global diversity is the context of leadership today.
6. Lifelong Learning in a Diverse Community: Herein lies the continuing development of leadership. As you already know, the present continues learning of a leader gives them the right and means to keep leading. The day we stop learning, we stop leading. Lifelong learning is catalyzed in diverse community, physical or virtual.
7. Organizational Dynamics: This is how leadership is implemented. I once met a former Fortune 500 company CEO near Chicago who described companies as ‘a necessary evil.’ At the end of the day, as long as two or more people come together, we need some sort of ‘organization’ to make things happen. It’s wonderful to have a great heart, but without the cutting edge knowledge and skillful hands to steer organizations with all their dynamics, these great ideas and causes won’t last very long.
For the last decade I have believed in and practiced going deep with leaders rather than merely going wide (mass production). I believe in Maxwell’s Law of Process, that leadership is built daily; not in day. Consequently, whoever walks long enough with us at YAW PERBI will invariably realize that they have been well-fed and well-formed holistically, with each of the above seven leadership food groups amply supplied, digested and fleshed out.
A common greeting among today’s cool people is “what’s up?” to which one may sometimes get some really sarcastic answers from uncool people (lol!). A not so common greeting would be, “What’s good?” That would be slang for an invitation to a values conversation. I’ll explain.
For the last couple of weeks I have been raving about the importance of vision, mission and values. My thesis is that these three are so life-giving, life-forming and life-determining that they are aptly described as DNA, be it personal or corporate. I did share some examples of vision and mission statements of companies as well as my own family’s, encouraging professionals to put in the time and work to hone these and commit to them to the same degree they do their corporate work (if not even more). Now a final word on the third piece of the DNA: values.
WHAT ARE VALUES?
Values are what matter most to us—what we value. Yes, our values are literally what we value. They are what we consider to be good, what’s good. What matters most to us about the kind of people we are, the type of work we do and how we behave as we do the work are our values.
Values are the standards a person, family or organization holds to be most important that cause individuals to make decisions and act the way they do. As a mentor of mine puts it, values “represent how a community aspires to act or function as it carries out its mission in pursuit of is vision.” I like this element of aspiration—perhaps we may not have quite attained that standard of behaviour or character or whatever ideal yet but it’s on our books to keep reminding us to keep stretching towards it.
So! In summary, if vision is what we want to SEE and mission is what we will DO to see what we want to see then values determine HOW we will behave (be and do) as we do what we want to do in order to see what we want to see.
PEELING BACK THE LAYERS
Whether ethnic or corporate, culture is basically how things are done here a.k.a behaviour. What many do not realize is that BEHAVIOUR—“what’s done”—is only, quite literally, the tip of the iceberg (which is usually about 10% of the actual size of the iceberg!). Behaviour is only what is seen and experienced on the outside—from dressing to speaking. It’s the soil/crust of the earth (another metaphor), if you like.
Beneath behaviour are the VALUES—“what’s good”—informing it. Digging deeper beneath sea level or soil level we will find the BELIEFS—“what’s true”—or “faith assumptions”, that are determining these values.
Deepest of all, at the bottom of the iceberg or at the core of the earth is our WORLDVIEW—“what’s real.” That is the root of the fruit we see called behaviour or culture.
Whether it is individuals or families, churches or corporations, how many times haven’t we attempted to change behaviour without digging all the way to the worldview source?
VALUES ARE NOT PRINCIPLES
I am of the Covey school of thought that values are not synonymous with principles. Principles are timeless, universal laws that govern everything (from physical laws of Physics to spiritual laws) but you can choose to value them and/or have values based on those laws or not. For example, there is a certain ethnic group I have come across that does not give children eggs (behaviour/culture). Undergirding this is not valuing eggs in children’s diet. But underlying this further is a belief that the children would become bald (like an egg) and become thieves (or both). At the very core of this ethnic culture is a certain animistic worldview that produces the belief that leads to the value and produces the behaviour of not feeding children eggs.
This value, no matter how cherished, goes against the principles of nutrition. Breaking the principle because of this value results in protein-energy undernutrition in the community whose two primary chronic forms are kwashiorkor and marasmus.
SO WHAT’S GOOD?
It is absolutely essential that everyone, personally and corporately, determine their values. Values comprise part of the DNA that gives, forms and determines the kind of life you lead. But like the chemical bases that form DNA, it is worth examining the formative beliefs and underlying worldview that bring forth these values. In the end, what’s good is determined by what’s core.
What if we took our families as seriously as we take our corporate work, beginning with crafting solid family vision and mission statements and clearly outlining our family values?
When I was still in my late teens and learnt about mission statements from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I was über excited! I was an eager beaver, wanting to learn more and actually crafting one for myself. In addition, I was eager to teach everybody who would listen to craft one too. In fact, a large part of why and how The HuD Group was born was because we wanted to inspire and empower young people to discover their God-given purpose and reach their full potential using tools like personal mission statements. Then I tried to convince my parents to work with my siblings and me to create one for our family. Let’s just say, I did not succeed.
Most of us work in places that have vision and mission statements and a slew of values. Those of us who are C-level leaders are responsible for recasting vision constantly, clearly and creatively as well as rehashing our mission and values. I would surmise the majority of us take this sacred duty of leadership very seriously. How come we don’t do same for our families? Most smart, skillful and dedicated professionals I know have no family vision and mission statements and haven’t bothered to distill the family’s values, let alone clearly state these and have them written down.
Yet as already asserted in a previous article, vision, mission and values are the DNA of both individuals and organizations as they are really of life-giving, life-forming and life-replicating essence. So it is with families. While every family has its physical DNA passed down from ancestors, how about the important metaphysical DNA represented by our families’ vision, mission and values?
Today, I wish to share with you my own nuclear family’s vision and mission statement for our home. We have a broader vision and mission that encompass not only our home but also all the corporate and charity ventures we’re involved in but what I’m sharing here is specific to our home.
VISION FOR THE PERBI HOME
An INCUBATOR for hatching godly, effectual leaders for the mission of God.
MISSION STATEMENT OF THE PERBI HOME
Ours is a family in which God delights because God is the centre of all activities in this household. Every ordinary activity becomes worship by practising God’s presence.
We are first and foremost Christians thus sharing fellowship and building each other up by lifestyle is a matter of course, and if necessary doing so with words. The flame on our Family Altar shall always burn brightly.
In our household, Jesus Christ is the standard of behaviour. This is the Potter’s house, where God by His Spirit moulds members and guests alike to conform to the image of Christ in attitude, thought, word and deed. The Word of God is our family constitution.
Ours is a neat, comfortable, cosy, Spirit-filled home; an inspiring environment which is as stimulating as is peaceful, is grace-filled, God-honouring, purpose-driven, paradigm-shifting, principle-centred, and character-based. Any entertainment must be wholesome, building & beneficial.
The Perbis’ is a home full of warm, smiling, serviceable and humble people who will at all times be of use to each other and to all of God’s people in a holistic manner.
This is a missionary family—living missionally, raising, receiving, sending and supporting carriers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That it will always be said of our home, our legacy, all to the glory of God: the standard of a Christian marriage, the epitome of a true Christian family.
At the start of each week, as we round up our weekly sabbath, we remind ourselves of our vision and mission statement. Even our three-year old knows what our vision is. She can shout “incubator!” Not only are our values embedded in our family mission statement, the children find the English version of their names in there as well.
This is holy work and I insist that every coaching client of mine works with their spouse and children (if they’re grown enough to contribute) to work on crafting solid family vision and mission statements and clearly outlining their family values. And of course, a key thing is to ensure that their personal and family values align with who they’re working for/with in the corporate world. No DNA, no life. Good DNA, good life. Bad DNA, bad news. Let’s take our families as seriously, nay, even more seriously than we do our workplaces. After all, companies come and go but family is forever.
There is no significant high performer I know who doesn’t have a coach, from entertainment and sports to business. Some have even more than one. How about you?
It was just a one-hour call with a coach. Let’s call him Joe. It changed the trajectory of my life. It wasn’t at a corner office in downtown Montreal or in one of the new plush buildings decorating the Accra skyline. It was at home, just at home; over Zoom. But utilizing the major tool coaches employ–questions, questions and more questions–the lightbulb suddenly came on and within 24 hours I had the oomph to re-start passive income generating projects I had kept procrastinating for a decade! How much that call with Joe cost me in dollars cannot be compared with the kind of lifetime value I gained and lifelong income stream I am cued to earn. I love the CLARITY coaches help bring to our thinking.
SO WHAT IS COACHING?
One of the most (ab)used words in our time is ‘mentor’ or ‘mentoring’ (or ‘mentorship’). I’ve heard and read people actually say coaching and mentoring are two different things. But no, mentoring is a term for the broader framework of empowering relationships every successful person needs (see diagram above) and coaching is a form of mentoring.
According to one of my leadership professors (during my Master of Arts in Global Leadership), mentoring is “a relational process in which a mentor, who knows or has experienced something, transfers that something (resources of wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, relationships, status etc.) to a mentoree, at an appropriate time and manner, so that it facilitates development or empowerment” (Clinton & Stanley 1992, 40). Mentoring is relationship, relationship, relationship. A relational experience, relational process, relational exchange.
Coaching, therefore (I repeat), is a form of mentoring, as is each of the other eight types of mentoring shown in the Clinton Continuum diagram above.
WHAT MAKES COACHING DIFFERENT?
First of all, you will notice that coaching is classified among the first third of relationships under ‘INTENSIVE’, unlike counselor, teacher and sponsor (grouped in the middle third) which are OCCASIONAL experiences. For example, as a coach, I recommend at least twice a month meetings with my coachees; sometimes even weekly (depending on their situation, needs and goals) for a minimum of six months. The ideal is a contact every 10 days especially so that no balls are dropped inadvertently.
While the scope of this write-up is not to describe every one of the nine mentoring relationships but to highlight coaching in particular, let me briefly say that a discipler is someone who enables another in the basics of following a religion (especially Christianity), a spiritual guide provides accountability, direction and insight for questions and decisions affecting spirituality and maturity. A coach provides motivation, clarity, challenge, accountability, skills and application needed to meet a goal. Clinton would argue that “the coach’s central thrust is to provide motivation and impart skills and application to meet a task or challenge” (73). Coaching, he would say, “is a process of imparting encouragement and skills to succeed in a task through a relationship” (76).
Coaching is an on-going conversation where I (as your coach) provide encouragement, guidance and honest feedback, as YOU pursue YOUR personal and professional goals. I fully expect you to grow yourself and your family/business/organization and succeed in life, by attaining your goals!
There is no significant high performer I know who doesn’t have a coach, from entertainment and sports to business. Without a coach, it is hard for anyone to experience high performance on their own, let alone to achieve what has come to be known as meta performance. In today’s competitive environment, some of the most successful business leaders have experienced tremendous benefits from coaching. Results have included increased revenue and productivity, career advancement, higher employee retention, and the development of more effective business strategies. YOU will define the agenda. YOUR results will vary depending on how long we work together and what actions YOU take.
As a John C. Maxwell trained and certified coach, my clients are expected to, and have experienced, measurable return on investment, increased productivity, and up to 200% revenue growth.
IT WORKS! LET ME HELP YOU.
If I didn’t believe this stuff, I wouldn’t be promoting it. The proof of our belief in anything is our investment of time and money in it. I personally have my own coach who I pay hundred of dollars to for three sessions monthly. At YAW PERBI, our value proposition is authentically empowering C-level executives for exponential growth in 90 days, success within a year and significance for a lifetime (and beyond). Try me. Try us.
We are human, thus limited, and cannot help everybody. Currently I personally have only 10 places each year for authentic, high quality and deep relationship one-on-one coaching so I have had to make the hard decision to focus mainly on C-level executives. The wisdom in that is, as my mentor John Maxwell says about what he calls “the Law of the Lid,” when they get better (raise their lids), everyone else else under them gets better. Knowing how key coaching is, however, no one will ever be turned away. I would be more than happy to refer you to others within my very rich coaching network. Everyone deserves a competent and caring coach.
Apart from one-on-ones, there are times I do one-on-few coaching for a group of executives. My favourite is helping executives work through company DNA (vision, mission & values)! I share about that in a later blog here.
If you’re ready to grow, succeed and be significant, take my hand and let me help you. Let me be your coach.
Clinton, J. Robert and Paul D Stanley. 1992. Connecting: the mentoring relationships you need to succeed in life. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
So! This is a sequel to my previous I’m Coming Out blog. In that, I copiously explained how, “Prominent among the treasures of this pandemic cum sabbatical year has been the realization that it’s about time I did less of the work of leading corporations and charities and rather focus on raising world class leaders among C-level executives who will go on to lead many good things and many great people.” D.L. Moody once said, “It is better to train 10 men than do the work of 10 men. But it is harder.” He was right.
I am serious enough about this new direction that I’m stepping down as President of ISMCanada with effect from June 2021, Deo volente. When I agreed to this role in March 2013, and officially began in May of that year, my initial arrangement with the Board was a 3-5 year tenure. It’s been almost eight years now! I’ve done double duty. Among other things, I’m happy to have worked with an overhauled senior leadership team to steer the organization to become a Certified Best Christian Workplace, a flourishing organization.
In coming out and stepping down, I’m happy to catalyse, consult for and coach CEOs and other C-level executives in both the marketplace and ministry, as well as continue my speaking/training career which has taken me to some 45 countries of the world. As we launch the YAW PERBI brand, I would like to share our vision, mission, values, unique selling disposition and offerings with you.
At YAW PERBI, we want to see a flourishing global ecosystem of authentic leaders characterised by healthy growth, holistic success and lasting significance.
Our mission, therefore, is to offer authentic and customized relationships and resources to C-level executives to grow personally, succeed professionally and become significant corporately.
As we go about our vision and mission, our corporate behaviour will be based on the following seven things that are very important to us. We value:
In another blog I go into the fine details of what each value means and how they play out at our company.
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
We know there are a myriad leadership development and executive coaching companies out there. Our bold value proposition is authentically empowering C-level executives for exponential growth in 90 days, success within a year and significance for a lifetime (and beyond).
What exactly are we offering in terms of products and services? We like to say we LIFECAST, an acronym for providing Leadership, Integrity, Family and Entrepreneurship Coaching Authoring Speaking and Training. LIFE is our content focus and CAST comprises the vehicles for delivering the LIFE. By the way, apart from the ‘C’ standing mainly for executive Coaching, it also often involves Catalyzing and Consulting. Authoring encompasses soft and hard products from (e-)books to courses.
The YAW PERBI brand communicates prestige and authenticity, success and significance.
CONCLUSION | CLARITY, NOT CERTAINTY
Even in clearly laying out our vision, mission, values, unique selling proposition and offerings at YAW PERBI, this is not only introducing you to my new brand but inherently providing a lesson for executives, many of whom haven’t clearly laid these things out for the corporations, charities and churches they lead. Even in an uncertain year like 2020, as John Maxwell my mentor says, “Individuals can live without certainty from a leader, but not without clarity. …Your people do not need certainty on every issue; but they do need clarity on every issue.”
I’m out. I’m stepping down. I’ve told you why, when and how. Not everything is certain; but am I clear?
I think I know what you’re thinking. I can bet someone’s humming Diana Ross’ 1980 scintillating song I’m coming out by now. It’s quite the hit. I love it. I’m not naive that it means different things to different people, especially the LGTBQ community. I am coming out alright but not that way. Let me tell you how.
RECEIVING A GIFT IN THE DARK
Imagine miners 6,500 feet (2km) underground more concerned about the dreariness of being in the belly of the earth than the prospects of oodles of gold ores or uranium deposits waiting to be excavated. There are treasures of darkness, riches stored in difficult places and tough times. Often we are preoccupied with the darkness or difficulty and fail to mine the gold therein.
Like many of you, the global pandemic has kept me grounded, literally. This is the longest I’ve stayed at home, ever!, for as long as I can remember. The lockdown months coincided with a four-month sabbatical from my presidency at ISMCanada, driving me underground. Among other things, I stayed away from FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn for almost the entire four-month period. Between the pause of a pandemic and the slowness of a sabbatical, in a mysterious way, I found myself again. I have had such quality family time with my wife of 14 years and six adorable children. There’ve been some good catching up times with my wider family, especially my dad (over Zoom). Friendships I lost 25 years ago have been restored, especially my fellow World Vision Youth Ambassadors from over 50 nations of the world. Companies I founded and neglected, like Mutual Medics, are being revived; my books that have been in demand yet out of print for years are being revised and republished… wow, this year of death has also been the year of resurrection.
Prominent among the treasures of this pandemic cum sabbatical year has been the realization that it’s about time I did less of the work of leading corporations and charities and rather focus on raising world class leaders among C-level executives who will go on to lead many good things and many great people. Of course, I’ve always mentored leaders along the way but I’m putting this on steroids now as well as a laser focus on the C-suite. For in the immortalized words of 19th/20th century YMCA leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate John R. Mott, “He who does the work is not so profitably employed as he who multiplies the doers.”
OFFERING A GIFT OF LIGHT
I have been blessed with a lot of leadership treasures I can offer to multiple C-level doers to exponentially build great organizations and societies, even nations. After nearly eight years as President & CEO of a Canadian organization with staff from coast to coast in the second largest country on earth (and in Australia), there surely must be something I can offer someone somewhere. When I think of the fact that at 30 years old I was already the Medical Head of a United Nations Level II Hospital in Cote d’Ivoire I wonder if there isn’t a Chief Medical Officer somewhere who could use my experience. They say ‘experience is the best teacher” but my dear father likes to add a caveat: “But the fees are high.” I can think of some CEOs who could use the benefit of my mistakes. Indeed, I would rather pay a few thousand dollars in coaching fees in exchange for a senior leaders’ experience than pay the price of a painful life lesson myself, some of which one may never quite recover fully from.
I remember a young African-Canadian who wanted to get back home to the Motherland to make impact. I am glad I was able to connect her to my large network of movers and shakers on the continent as a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI). Needless to say, a Fellow gave her a soft landing and she began to make a dent in Africa’s largest economy. By extension, as a Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network there’s literally no place the sun shines that I don’t know somebody or at least someone who knows somebody you might need. My role as a Lausanne Movement catalyst also gives me quite the reach on all six continents.
Even though I’ve been a speaker since my teenage years and been teaching leadership, especially John C. Maxwell’s content, since the early 2,000s (while still in medical school), in 2013 I took the time, trouble and some ten thousand dollars to become an official Certified John Maxwell Team coach, speaker and trainer. My love for leadership won’t leave me alone so I continued with a Masters in Global Leadership at Fuller. It wasn’t until later on that I realized the ‘happy coincidence’ that Fuller was my mentor John’s alma mater. Actually it’s funny how I found out. Dr. Villacorta, one of my professors (originally from Peru) invited me to play soccer with him on one chilly Saturday morning in Colorado Springs. In our casual conversation after the game, en route to the parking lot, that’s when that came up. Needless to day, I was very pleased that my steps had been ordered to Fuller! But I digress.
THE BLACK CARD
Yes I love to coach and train in all sorts of leadership genres but as a serial entrepreneur myself in multiple industries from real estate investment to education, business leaders are very welcome to learn from my few successes and many mistakes! As a Black man, the last four years have been particularly painful, fighting racial bias and injustice in Canada in court and witnessing the horror of systemic racism south of the border (in the USA). Hearing the U.S. president calling the nation of my birth a “shithole country” didn’t help the situation; it just added more gasoline to the flames.
I see how many Blacks cannot breathe (tribute to #GeorgeFloyd) and the impediments in the way of even Black executives in multinational companies. I desire to offer them leverage from my experiences. Having founded The HuD Group in Ghana at the age of 25 and grown it into a world class faith-based personal development and leadership training organization with operations in over 20 countries on six continents as its Global CEO, I am eager to particularly provide C-level executives of African descent with the paradigms, processes and tools necessary to maximize their potential, to be world class, take the world stage and make their dent in the universe.
Speaking of executive coaching in multiethnic and intercultural leadership, which is our current global leadership reality, need I say that I am the first and only Black president of ISMCanada and for four years led the English congregation of the Montreal Chinese Alliance Church?
FLESHING IT OUT
So a couple of weeks ago I came out of sabbatical with bang! I am systematically unveiling a new YAW PERBI brand as an Executive Education business that is into leadership development, management training and executive coaching. This coaching, authoring, speaking and training business under the name, YAW PERBI, specializes in everything ‘LIFE’ for C-level executives. LIFE is an acronym for Leadership, Integrity, Family and Entrepreneurship. All of this is interwoven with inspiration and with undercurrents of faith. While there will be physical and electronic products like books and online courses for purchase, this business will mainly be executive services.
In my next blog, I share the vision, mission, values, unique selling proposition and offerings of the new YAW PERBI brand. Did I say “I’m coming out?” Nay, I’M OUT!
“The world has entered an era of the most profound and challenging change in human history. Most of our children are not prepared, and we know it. Parents around the world see the change and know that the traditional three R’s–reading, writing, and arithmetic–are necessary; but not enough. Their children need to become far more responsible, creative, and tolerant of differences. They need to increase their ability to think for themselves, take initiative, get along with others, and solve problems. Business leaders are not finding people whose skills and character match the demands of today’s global economy, including strong communication, teamwork, analytical, technology, and organizational skills. They need young people who are self-motivated, creative, and have a strong work ethic. How will we bridge this ever-widening gap?” (Leader in Me blurb)
In my previous blog, I highlighted the current global leadership crisis epitomized by the likes of U.S. president Donald Trump. Yet even over a decade ago, leadership gurus like Stephen R. Covey (of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame) uttered the above words, speaking of an era of challenge our children are unprepared for. The present leadership crisis has been brewing for a long time. If we do nothing about it, we’ll be setting our world back generations, and for generations to come. So how in the world are we going about it, growing leaders from childhood? I’m glad you asked.
THE ROLE OF LIT
Perbi Cubs Library Service through their book collection, activities and Lions Inspire Cubs programs inspire and empower children to be ready for leadership and impact. The Lions Inspire Cubs program has featured Lions (Leaders making impact in society) like Dr. Ahitey Trebi-Ollenu, a Robotics engineer at NASA.
The final element of this attempt at raising young, holistic leaders is the newly-launched Lions in Training (LIT) track which results in medallion awards for Cubs. As a firm, YAW PERBI is working with Perbi Cubs from the grassroots with children at home and in school. We consult for Perbi Cubs, providing the theoretical basis and praxiological framework, breaking down high level leadership concepts into small bits to deliver leadership development to 7-14 year-olds. After all as huge as it is, even an elephant can be eat. But how do you eat an elephant? Bit by bit.
ROLE OF PARENTS IN LIT
I have often said that, “Charity begins at home, so does leadership.” Parents are not only the primary caregivers of children but their primary leadership coaches as well. Of a truth, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” So together with parents, every quarter we focus on three core areas that when gotten right will have a significant change/impact in the lives and leadership of these Cubs. Every Thursday, parents receive an email to evaluate how the child did that week as leader. These three core areas of evaluation focus on various everyday practical actions and inactions of the Cubs at home and in school.
So after digesting tonnes of leadership articles and books and studying global leadership even at the graduate level, I have come to the conclusion that although there are over 360 documented definitions of leadership, leadership is basically responsibility, service and influence. The easiest way for a child to understand a ‘big word’ like responsiblity is response-ability.
This diagram (above) may seem simple but it is one of those things referred to as simplicity at the far end of complexity. It looks deceptively simple but has come through after a lot of complex thinking processes.
ON YOUR MARKS…
So for this quarter, this is how the children are being observed, encouraged and evaluated as Leaders in Training (LIT) in practical terms:
A. Responsibility is response-ability:
- Cub chooses to do the right thing without prompting.
- Cub is able to take charge of getting their school work done.
- Cub does not blame others for their circumstances.
B. Service is being of use to others:
- Cub is helpful at home and school.
- Cub willingly does their chores.
- Cub does not boss other people around.
- Cub uses their talents/gifts to help others or make their lives better.
C. Influence is producing effects on others:
- Cub exerts positive peer pressure.
- Cub affects the actions, behavior or opinions of siblings and friends in a good way.
- Cub sounds convincing in expressing their opinion.
CUBS CAN EAT ELEPHANTS
“So how do you eat an elephant?” my father would ask our little selves when we were just waist-high and get us head-scratching. If such a complex phenomenon like photosynthesis can be taught at the PhD level but also broken down so simply and taught at nursery (pun intended), then leadership can too. So even lion cubs can eat elephants. How? Little by little, bit by bit, one bite at a time.
“Stopping Trump is a short-term solution. The long-term solution, and it will be more difficult, is fixing the educational system that has created so many people ignorant enough to vote for Trump.” (Andy Borowitz, a satirist)
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I do not subscribe to the notion that everyone who voted for Trump is ignorant. That would be an unfair characterization. Politics is more nuanced than that. I say there are at least 3 Ps that go into one’s choice, none of which is perfect in any political party and hardly are all three aligned with what is Biblical: the PERSON (as in flag bearer), the PARTY and the POLICIES.
Having said that, how did the most powerful nation in the world end up with such a leadership crisis? I’m not just talking about the nail-biting U.S. electoral college vote count last week and the current situation where a winner has been projected but the incumbent hasn’t gathered what it takes to concede and congratulate. I speak of four years ago when America had to choose between two wannabe leaders of the free world both of whom the electorate had serious reservations about! America was caught between the red devil and the deep blue sea.
And the last four years have portrayed nearly everything I’ve been taught that leadership is NOT exhibited by the man in the White House. Is it competence in inspiring confidence about the Coronavirus pandemic and quenching it or a character of what is good and right and true or care and respect for ‘the other’? Competence, character and care constitute the DNA of leadership. Of course Trump did do some good things. I have even admired his non-political-correctness and tough skin in forging ahead buoyed by the courage of his convictions (no matter how misinformed I think they might be sometimes). By and large, however, I have had to repeatedly tell my children too many things about Trump that leadership is NOT.
THE VAN JONES MOMENT
When I saw Van Jones weep on television that as a parent the defeat of Trump and the elevation of Biden is a testament to the fact that character matters in life and leadership, I very much identified with that. Character matters. Truth matters. Decency matters. And one would think the white evangelical church in America would know better than a journalist.
If the one country that has produced the most world-impacting heads of states, Nobel laureates (390 of them; the UK which is next is at 135), stellar entertainers and astounding professional athletes could face such a gaping leadership crisis then the rest of the world had better watch out. In my Twi language from Ghana, there is a saying that when you see your neighbor’s beard on fire, you had better quickly fetch a bucket of water and place it beside yours (well, hopefully after you’ve helped him doust his!)
OF SHITTY STORIES & SHIT HOLE COUNTRIES
The S word is one that isn’t in my vocabulary. Permit me to get into the gutters in this little stretch so we both appreciate the abyss leadership sunk into these last four years. When Trump was elected I was hopeful. My family’s explanation to a United States border agent that we were crossing over from Canada to upstate New York to check on our investment property had been described by this kid in the border cage as “Such a Shitty Story.” When I wrote about that in January 2017, I was hopeful that a Trump presidency would catalyze the noble dreams Martin Luther King Jnr. had for his four little children (and my six) and not turn into the nightmare many feared. The latter has happened. Blacks still can’t breathe in 2020, George Floyd’s slow slaughter being the epitome of that.
As one born and raised in Africa I have long experienced firsthand that “everything rises and falls on leadership.” Whether as a young medical doctor in Ghana seeing patients die who shouldn’t have or as a United Nations peacekeeping soldier in Cote d’Ivoire beholding with my own naked eyes the ravages of war, there is no other one word that summarizes all that’s wrong with my continent as ‘leadership.’ The sad socioeconomic state in the midst of abundance earned us the disparaging title of “Shit hole countries” by President Donald Trump who ironically has gone ahead to look, sound and act in the very manner people who have misled, unled, disled Africa have.
Leadership is a sacred trust. Twenty years ago I was so concerned that leadership knowledge and mindset, character and skills be acquired early that I co-founded The HuD Group to intervene at the youth level and change the African narrative. Nearly 20 years later I am still convinced that leadership development and training must start early but even earlier: with children. And it begins by calling them “cubs” who will grow into lions and not “kids” who will grow into billy goats gruff (or the trolls in that fairy tale, for that matter LOL).
While at my executive education company that bears my name, YAW PERBI, we’re intervening at the C-Level, Perbi Cubs Library Services is beginning from the very roots: with children and from our homes and schools. I’ll tell you why we launched the Lions In Training (LIT) Track at Perbi Cubs only a couple of weeks ago (although we’ve been dreaming about this for a long long time).
LIT is the collective attempt of Perbi Cubs and parents who are preparing the next generation to meet the great challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century and thrive! The LIT track is to help groom our Cubs into holistic Leaders (Lions). The Perbi Cubs reading community knows that the future of our reading Cubs is promising because of the world of opportunities opened to them every day as they open books to read. For sure, readers are leaders.
Reading, however, is necessary but not sufficient.In this light, Perbi Cubs desires to partner parents to nurture Cubs in relevant soft skills that will take them places and form them into young well-rounded leaders of great impact. Research shows that a leader is developed over the entire course of their life: from womb to tomb. It is never too late to start teaching, learning and applying leadership skills to everyday life.
*NB: YAW PERBI serves as consultant, coach and trainer for Perbi Cubs and is not involved in the day to day management of this groundbreaking social enterprise. If you require YAW PERBI’s assistance in executive coaching, management consulting or leadership training reach out to email@example.com.
Love is an attitude (head), affect (heart), and action (hands). Here’s a way to get a handle of it, literally!
“LOVE” might very well get the vote for the most used and abused word, ever! It’s a good thing that languages like Spanish and Greek help a little by having different words to mean different kinds of love, from a ‘strong like’ to ‘brotherly/sisterly love’ to ‘unconditional love’ to sheer ‘eros.’
If truth be told though, the hardest part about love isn’t so much understanding it; it is showing it. I have a mentor who likes to say that the biggest gap in the world is the gap between knowing and doing. But sometimes we just don’t know how.
The Community Temperature Reading (CTR) by my mentors Pete and Geri Scazzero (an adaption of Virginia Satir’s work) has helped me practically love my spouse, children, friends and team members much better and I suspect might be of use to you too.
1. APPRECIATIONS | “I appreciate…”
Call it thanksgiving or praise, even God loves to be appreciated! I suspected having created us in His image and likeness makes us love being appreciated as well. Learn to say, “I appreciate…” eg. “I appreciate washing the dishes last night when I was too tired to.” Like me, some people, cultures and families are very stingy with appreciations. I tend to verbally appreciate only, almost exclusively, extremely high performance but I’m learning to be much more generous in saying, “I appreciate…”
You may have come across Dr. John Gottman, “the guy that can predict divorce with over 90% accuracy.” According to him, for every one negative feeling or interaction between partners, there must be five positive feelings or interactions. How is your appreciation:criticism ratio? The last I checked, I didn’t like my ratio with my children. I’m working on that.
2. PUZZLES | “I am puzzled…”
My most frequent exercise is “jumping to conclusions,” especially in situations in which I have little information yet strong opinions and a big mouth. And it doesn’t help at all that my ‘high D’ personality makes me unafraid to confront people and situations! I often come across as judgemental, even when I have the best of intentions.
I’ve learnt that “puzzle is a loving word.” Now instead of being super upset and angrily asking one of my staff, “Why didn’t you reply my email?” (with all sorts of assumptions lurking) I’m learning to rather say something like, “I’m puzzled as to why you didn’t reply my email.”
Peter and Geri Scazzero share in their Emotionally Healthy Relationships course, “instead of thinking, No one washed the dishes last night. I live with a bunch of slobs! you can say, “I’m puzzled as to why you left your dirty dishes in the sink last night.”” Try it. You can appreciate me later.
3. COMPLAINTS WITH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS | “I notice… and I prefer…”
If you adopted this one, I would feel really loved as my personality cannot stand whining but loves solutions. No doubt, as long as we are imperfect humans in a broken world we will all have concerns and complaints. Many of us tend to suffer in silence though on one hand or unproductively complain about everything without taking responsibility for anything, not even suggestions for improvement.
The panacea to this, how to love well when there are things you don’t dig, is to use the words: “I notice… and I prefer…” eg. “I notice our clinical meetings start late, and I prefer we start at the agreed upon time.” This gives voice, a respectful voice, but also gives the other ears to hear, especially coming with a clearly stated alternative. Even if the ‘possible solution’ preferred is merely the opposite of the complaint, like in the example above, verbalizing it as an alternate proposal will be taken better. Give it a try.
4. NEW INFO | “My new information is…”
True, “love does not keep a record of wrongs;” but true love keeps news up to date. I wise man once told me, “It isn’t distance that keeps us apart; it is silence.” If you know me well as a public speaker and prolific writer you might find it hard to believe this but I tend not to be as communicative at home as I am in public. The CTR tool has given me a reason to consciously say, “My new information is…” It could be about an event, decision, appointment, achievement, opportunity, activity, whatever! As the Scazzeros put it, “relationships can only grow when people know what is happening in each other’s lives, both the trivial as well as the important.”
5. HOPES AND WISHES | “I hope…”
I found out rather late in my marriage how much Anyele feels loved when we verbalize our hopes, dreams and plans for the future. No wonder!, for “hopes and wishes offer windows into our unique souls, revealing significant parts of who we are” (Pete & Geri Scazzero). eg. “I hope we can get to visit the Caribbean next year.”
“LOVE ME THIS WAY”
The people in our lives are crying out, “this is how I want to feel loved, would you please love me this this way?” If we all regularly practised any of these five skills the people in our lives would feel loved; if we did more than one often they would feel much loved; if we made a habit of all five they surely would feel very much loved. Don’t just say you love somebody; don’t just feel the feeling, do it these five ways! If you didn’t know how, now you do!
Post Script | Great Commandment vrs. Great Commission
For those who are Christ followers, it may be worth noting that the Great Commandment (to love God with your all and love your neighbour as yourself) comes before the Great Commission (to make disciples) in sequence and in rank (Jesus said the greatest command is love). Besides, the Great Commission includes teaching the Great Commandment if we are to teach folks to do everything Christ commanded. The first of the fruit of the Spirit is love. Remember God Himself is love. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” There’s no way getting round love as a Christ follower.
One curious thing about the Great Commission is how many of us have read it to mean that making disciples of Jesus is by teaching them stuff that Jesus commanded. Meanwhile, a careful and slow re-reading of the text shows the essence is to train or teach people how to obey the stuff Jesus commands. Jesus said “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” not just “teach them everything I have commanded you.” No wonder there are so many Christians who know ‘everything’ but do nearly nothing the Scriptures say! This understanding of the Great Commission has made a world of difference to me and those I walk/work with. The Community Temperature Reading (CTR) tool above, teaches you how to obey the command to love. Try it!