Leadership in Denmark and Kenya

January 28th, 2011

Last week I was in Denmark. Minus 10 degrees celcius, a little snow and working with Danish Leaders, dealing with the challenges and thrills of being a leader in a Scandinavian country. Now, back in Nairobi/Kenya, working with 5 Kenyan facilitators and 14 Leaders at the E-MBA programme which SIMI/CBS and Inoorero University launched in November 2010 – in plus 30 degrees celcius and sunshine. What a difference!

The 14 leaders have just submitted their first report on Leadership, where they make an investigation of Leadership theory and practice of their own and the general – and needed – Leadership in their Companies.

What we find, are leaders who want to act with integrity and ethics. Who want to establish team-structures, an innovative working-climate, a caring and trustfull environment for the employees. Who want to achieve great results, be the best in the world within their field and earn a good deal of money, so that they can pay the employees more, build up stocks and be more reliable in their delivery of services.

It is actually not that different from what Leaders in Denmark want, is it. There is this urge to be “yourself” (to be authentic and act with integrity). An urge to “do good” – both economically and socially. To achieve.

And yet, the differences are enourmous. The context, culture, environment and history, from which perspective Leaders down here in Kenya have to lead are NOT the same as we face in Denmark. The problems they are facing are different. And the possibilities as well. Seeing the world through a Kenyan Leaders eyes (or at least try to), really brings perspective. How would you lead, for instance, if there was almost no infrastructure? Unreliable telephone- and internet access? Huge problems with some employees steeling and huge possibilities with a new generation of Kenyan employees who are ready to change the way things are? And looking through a Danish Leaders eyes: how would you lead employees, who have been brought up to challenge authorities, who want to lead as much as you do, and who might have a hard time understanding, that the financial crisis demands you to save money and still deliver the same service? How…

Both cultures face challenges – and opportunities. What encourages me – as a business consultant – is the innovation and ingenuity I see, when Leaders are challenged to think differently, think for themselves, help each other find solutions and build great businesses. Down here in Kenya, and in Denmark – leaders want the same…