My leadership equation

I t’s that happy KPI-setting time of the year again that sees me bunkered over my desktop, brow furrowed, scouring through reams of my team’s workplans, all written in sadistic 8-point calibri font, designed to push you to brink of dementia.

After approving over 45 Individual KRA plans, it occurred to me that I had to do my own as well. URGH.

2 hours and many papier mache sculptures later, I suddenly had an epiphany.
Maybe all the umpteen KRAs and KPIs that I had as a leader could be classified into a simple recipe.

Grabbing a sharpie, I started doodling. Here is what I came up with:


Looks like common sense doesn’t it! But let’s unpack this equation:

1.) Knowing what you want

  • SO FEW PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY WANT. I mean this on a macro and a micro level. In the past 5 years, I have worked with people from all walks of life from billionaires to students, and it always strikes me how little time people spend to getting really clear on what they want out of life.
  • On a micro level, every meeting I have, every project I embark on, every conversation I have, I always try to start with asking myself, what does success look like? What do I really want?
  • All the really successful people I have met have been utterly, elegantly, simply crisp in their ability to define success and know what they want. This is perhaps one of the most important factors in determining your trajectory in life.

2.) Doing whatever it takes

  • This is what separates the talkers from the people who get stuff done. Having the creativity to see what you can do to achieve your goals, combined with the determination to see it through and the grit to keep going even when things get really really difficult

3.) In line with your values and ethics

  • Now this piece is one that defines if your success is sustainable.
  • It’s perfectly possible to have success in the short term through clarity + bloody-minded effort, but what I’ve also learned through working with very senior leaders is that if you don’t work in a way that is aligned with your values, you get depleted and burn out, or you get depressed and hollowed out.
  • When I was younger, values always sounded like such a corny word to me, but the older I get the more I realise that they are absolutely vital to your success and authenticity as a leader.

Looking at these 3 parts, I like to think of a campfire. Knowing what you want is like the spark that ignites the flame. Doing what it takes is the grinding of the flint and the fanning of the fire.  Values is the fuel for your fire, as living in a way that’s meaningful to you nourishes you and makes your pursuits a virtuous cycle of purpose.









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