Power Moves: President Kenyatta and the ICC

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October 23, 2014

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Photo credit: jambonewspot

Photo credit: jambonewspot

Here’s an exercise in national pride: stop any random Kenyan on the street and mention the words “International Criminal Court” then record their reaction. Chances are, you either landed on a proponent, who supports the ongoing ICC cases against individuals that include the president of this sovereign nation. You may also have found one of the many Kenyans that feels the ICC has overstepped their bounds, presuming the person you stopped didn’t immediately take off running after assuming you intended to grab their wallet.

To date, the ICC continues to hand out edicts regarding disclosure of President Kenyatta’s wealth, warnings against leaking case details, and eventually being buried under the noise of political opponents taking the situation as their chance to shine.

Say what you will about our President, but his approach to the matter thus far has been nothing short of commendable. In the recent past, the Kenyan conversation has been dominated by the ICC summons presented to our President, who still faces charges at the international court. With speculation rife over whether President Kenyatta would attend or not, and opinions ranging from defiance to careful consideration for the rule of international law, few people could have seen the final solution coming. Now back from the ICC, having navigated the political intricacies of the situation by temporarily handing over power to the Deputy President, the former Acting President and current sitting president continue to rule and provide a leadership model for managers across every industry, logistics included.

The first and most obvious lesson logistics managers can learn is the importance of having a reliable second in command who can step in at a moment’s notice should the leader be indisposed for whatever reason. The Kenyan president was able to hand over his powers to the Deputy president and attend to his ICC obligations with peace of mind knowing all would be well upon his return in the capable hands of Mr Ruto. The Kenyan public also showed the utmost confidence in the acting President’s ability to lead, as we peacefully accepted our interim ruler and lived under his reign until the return of President Kenyatta.

Logistics managers should also be able to delegate their duties in case their obligations interfere with the running of their business. In this case, President Kenyatta was required to be present to answer for ICC charges, a matter complicated by international and local politics of a sitting president appearing on trial for crimes against humanity. To navigate this potentially disastrous situation, President Kenyatta recognized the need to delegate the presidential duties and attend to the matter at hand. For most managers, the idea that they are the best at their duties may be true, but attempting to do everything at all times is almost guaranteed to cause your business more harm than good.

Photo credit: KenyaForum

Photo credit: KenyaForum

Supply chain managers can also learn a great deal about humility from the actions of the President in handing over power for the time he was away from the country. In most cases, leaders usually tie their worth to being in charge, taking a lot of pride in their accomplishment of being the head of their respective situation. From primary and high school prefects to the highest office in the land, relinquishing power, even temporarily, takes confidence in your skills and the humility to live “normally” without your usual authority.

A key part of leadership is the ability to see the big picture and make strategic, creative decisions based on an intelligent analysis of the situation. With President Kenyatta faced with a quagmire of political implications tied to attending the ICC as the Kenyan president, versus the complications of ignoring an ICC summons, majority of the Kenyan people only saw two options: go or don’t go. Out of the box thinking showed us a third option that has been hailed by supporters and condemned as a PR move by detractors, but acknowledged as brilliant by all. Can your employees say the same for you?

Here’s to great leadership in the coming week; and learning leadership lessons from all around us.


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