Archive for category leadership

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Hi there! Welcome to LeadByChoice, a home for people who want to take bold and courageous leadership. I am Kimunya Mugo, a blogger, an author, leadership coach, communication specialist and a father.

About_Kimunya_BustMy mission with LeadByChoice is to inspire and motivate you to ‘Explore your true Identity, Unleash the Leader in you and Build your Legacy’.

I believe that leadership, communication and branding are so intricately connected, that without one, the others cease to flourish. These are the themes that you will engage with here at LeadByChoice.

Soon, I will be launching my new leadership coaching program. It is real and transformational. You will experience personal growth, build your team and enjoy your family more. You will grow into the leader you are meant to be.



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How did I end up here?

From when I was a boy, I was fired up by ‘But why?’ when confronted with major decisions. This made me challenge the status quo. I did not always follow the crowd and tended to blaze my own trail.

I got tired of complaining about the mediocre ‘leadership’ I constantly found myself under. Deep down, I knew that I was born a leader. But life had dealt me some serious wounds that filled me with fear. A fear of failure.

Finally, I made a decision in 2013 that I would live fearlessly. I had to forgive someone who had hurt me when I was just seven years old. The degree to which you are able to tell your story is the degree to which you are able to heal. It helps us deal with our shame, our inadequacy. To deal with me!

When I was eleven, another candle was extinguished. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. Our English teacher was handing back our essay assignments. As was custom, he started off with the student with the highest grade and worked his way to the bottom.

And guess what? I was it! I had flunked! It was depressing to say the least. I had poured my heart to write an epic story…and I had. His reason for not grading my essay? “You copied your essay from somewhere else,” he said with a smirk on his face.

That added to my feeling of inadequacy. But that did not kill my dream! A small ember still flickered in the recesses of my battered spirit. But it took a lot of hard work to get that ember into a roaring fire!

In 2013, I quit my day job to fully commit myself to writing, coaching and serving you. The same year, I published my first book. Down But Not Out: Becoming A Significant Leader at Home was my key to freedom. In it, I share my journey of joy, pain, fears, rejection and finally triumph.

I began doing something that I could not do without. Something that mattered not only to me, but for the betterment of humanity.

It’s going to be the ride of my life, but I want to help people to become unmistakably authentic! My ultimate hope is that you find change from the inside that positively affects your outlook and everything or anyone you touch. In leadership, communication and branding…

My brief bio

I have worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 15 years. Trained as a scientist (horticulture), I have always loved communication. However, it was not a direct transition. I was kind of ‘pushed’ into it when my first boss put me in charge of developing my first website (by the way, I had no clue how to do it!).

My last day job was as Regional Director for Communication & Branding of WWF in eastern and southern Africa. Before that, I worked in a variety of roles for three other organizations (see full profile).

In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, the outdoors, running, speaking and helping other parents.

I have been married to my best friend Harriette since 2004. Together, we have been parenting coaches since 2007. We have three children and make our home in Nairobi, Kenya.

My values

These are my solid five pillars that support my work and life:

  • I will enshrine boldness in my vision.
  • I want to inspire excellence in people.
  • I seek to be authentic in my leadership at all times.
  • I want to make a difference with my life.
  • I will consistently add to my knowledge.

Let’s get connected

I want to be available to you as much as I can. Sometimes life gets crazy and it takes me some time to respond, but I do my best to respond in a timely manner.

Here are the best ways we can connect better:

  • Subscribe to my Blog – This way, I promise to deliver any updates and goodies directly to your mailbox. My promise is NO SPAM and a guarantee that your email WILL NEVER be shared with anyone else.
  • Blog Comments – I really appreciate when you comment on my posts, and I do my best to respond to all of them. Let me know your thoughts on my posts and how I can best help you.
  • Email – Let’s have a conversation… It’s as simple as a click!
  • Twitter – I really like the freshness of Twitter! Follow me @KimunyaMugo then send me @mention or reply.
  • Facebook – I engage with your comments and mentions on Facebook. LIKE my Page and my Facebook Profile and let’s rock!

I Look Forward to Hearing From You!

What others are saying

On the blog…

“Love your stuff and your blog!” Kary Oberbrunner

“…Very impressive. I like your thinking and the breadth of topics you cover. I pray you do well.” Don Mercer

“Kimunya, thanks for the thought provoking pieces that prompt action. Your article on Leadership is HOPE was particularly very practical calling for a little pause from ‘our busy frame’ and to take time to impact for the future.” Ciru

“Fantastic! Looks like you have a passion for helping others, as well do I… Keep up the great work.” –Dave

On my book Down But Not Out: Becoming a Significant Leader at Home

“Authentic and transparent! A must read for any parent that desires to empower their children to live a life of significance in a world filled with challenges.”  Barry Smith

“Intimately candid and bold. A reminder that hope still exists if parents deliberately train their children to grow in ‘wisdom, stature and favor with God and man’.” Michael Oyier, Psychologist & Media Practitioner, Founder & Director Serenity Life Coaching.

“I loved this book and read it in one sitting. I could not put it down. It is beautifully written full of lessons and love. The whole book resonated with me. Even though I live in Canada, it is amazing how our experiences of love and loss are similar. Values start at home. This book shows you that and how to weave your values into your leadership. 10 out of 10!” Cheri Essner

“I enjoyed reading Down But Not Out as Kimunya poured out his experience and learning so that others may benefit. I like the authenticity and practical step by step exploration. Having attended the same parenting class with him and Harriette they have done justice to lessons learnt. Great job Kimunya looking forward to your next releases. In the meantime enjoying your Lead by Choice blog.” Ciru

“Excellent book. Kimunya articulates well what it takes to lead. He remains very authentic narrating all high and low moments in his personal and family life to illustrate and tie in all the required prerequisites for successful leadership at home. A genuine 5 star read.” Customer

[photo: Teddy Mitchener, HouseOfPhotography]

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Leaders EAT Flatbread

medium_18497964What can we learn from a ‘flattish’ loaf of bread? A few weeks back, our 8-year old daughter evicted all of us from the kitchen. She was on a mission to wow us with a magnificent display of her culinary skills. Execute Mission Bread…

3, 2, 1… Blast away to the new site for the full post…

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[photo credit: MrTopf via photopin cc]


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Leadership Is Dangerous

Leadership_is_dangerouseMy good friend Joseph Lalonde released his free eBook a couple of weeks ago, LEADERSHIP IS DANGEROUS: Four Traps That a Leader Should Avoid.

Sometimes we become leaders by accident. It leaves us wondering what leadership means for us. To be honest, it can mean many different things. Leadership means:

You have followers: There are people who are watching what you do. They’re waiting for your next move so they can follow in your steps. You may not always see who your followers are but they’re out there [TweetMe]. They can be friends, family members, or complete strangers. Be on the lookout for who’s following after you.

Being a leader means you have responsibility: Did you ever read Spiderman growing up? Before Peter Parker’s uncle Ben dies, he says something to Peter. He uttered the words “With great power comes great responsibility.” [TweetMe] How does this relate to you? You’ve been given the power to lead others. You have influence over your followers. This gives you power. With this power comes great responsibility. Be sure to lead with this thought in mind.

Your choices no longer affect just you: That’s right. Your choices now affect others. Your followers may feel the repercussions of the choices you make [TweetMe]. The bad choices you make will reverberate through your organization. If you’re married, you know this. Every choice you make affects your spouse and children. No choice is separate from your leadership of the family.

Now you know what being a leader means. You’re attracting followers. You’re given great power but also have great responsibility. And your choices now affect more than yourself.

The choices you make affect everyone you touch and everything you do. There will be times when you believe no one is watching you. That’s a lie. Once you become a leader, someone will be watching you.

All you have to do is watch the news and you’ll see how our leaders are watched. Your steps will be scrutinized. Your decisions will be questioned. And eyes will be watching you.

This is why you, as a leader, need to be vigilant. Get a free copy of Joseph’s eBook here.

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Leadership In The SUN

medium_6045855541I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was worried, thoughts ravaged my mind, I pondered over many scenarios. Then fear put a cold, solid grip on my heart. What would the future be for my family and I?

Like many a man, not having a solid feeling of control can leave me in a mental vortex.

In the sleepiness that plagued me that early morning, I remembered the following passage from Jeff Goins’ book, The In-Between.

“In frustration, I’m confronted with an old lesson of letting go, of looking beyond personal ambition and replacing it with something better. The slow growth that happens when I surrender to what life — and maybe God — is trying to teach me. So it seems, despite a penchant for travel, that the antidote to my restlessness is not another trip or adventure, but a deep abiding in where I am really matters. I don’t like it, but I’m starting to see the value of the times in between the big moments in life.”

My in-between is to activate the Suspend, Understand and Nurture model [TweetMe]. I needed to step into the SUN now to take control of my fears. As I wait for the next phase of my life to kick in, I can maximize on the present. The now becomes my launch pad.

SUSPEND my fear and embrace the possibilities by focusing on the vision [TweetMe]. I don’t live just for myself but to bring forth leadership that brings meaningful change to others. Succumbing to fear of failure reduces my chances to advance and possibilities to learn. I am robbing others of an opportunity to be led. When I progressively overcome my fear, I increase my chances of growing leaders, not just gaining followers. As Seth Godin puts it, “Fear the fear, feel the fear”.

UNDERSTAND the right tools required for leadership to thrive within me [TweetMe]. I must invest in the right attitude to engage with others, leaders and followers alike. However, these tools will not be available to me at the same time. I need to capture the moment and use what is at hand to gain what I can’t reach. Joseph Lalode shares the secret sauce for testing the waters and getting something done, pulling a ready, fire, aim on life. That attitude will be guided by the knowledge that there is always space to learn. It is only a fool who doesn’t change his mind!

NURTURE is paramount for any meaningful growth as a leader [TweetMe]. A frequent detox is required to get rid of the dirt/baggage for best results to emerge and leadership to shine. I need to learn and sit at the feet of great men and women who have gone before me. This includes a desire to be more accountable to myself and significant others. Learning to be humble will nurture my leadership and ability to mend fences and build bridges, especially with those I have wronged.

For any leader, those in-between moments can be make-it-or-break-it scenarios. I now have a deeper appreciation for what Steve Jobs once said, “Believe that things will work out… Trust your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path. Trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”


How can you apply the SUN model to grow your leadership?

photo credit: Kevin_Morris via photopin cc

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Leadership is HOPE

medium_136578060I was walking by a boy who was munching away at a delicious doughnut topped with glossy chocolate goodness. What made me notice this five-year old were the “empty” signals that my stomach was beaming to my mind. Then I spotted him drop his paper napkin into an adjacent flowerbed.

As much as there was an urgent need to sort out my nagging hunger, I managed to suppress it and respond to a more pressing need. Right before me was an opportunity to help this youngster and guide him towards taking more responsibility in life. I stooped down to his level and gently asked him to pick up the paper napkin. But that was not all. I helped him to figure out what to do with the napkin, to find a rubbish bin.

What does this have to do with leadership? It is because leadership responds to HOPE, Honoring the Opportunity to spur People on to Excellence [TweetMe]. Hope is at the core of leadership as it provides the grounds for believing that something good may happen.

HONOR – Leaders need to fulfill an obligation or stick to an agreement [TweetMe]. This is regardless of how you feel, where you are, or whichever excuse that may creep into your mind. It may come at great personal cost, but a leader always keeps his word and sticks to a vision set. “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” Aristotle

OPPORTUNITY – Be present in time and place, as opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something [TweetMe]. If you are too busy building the big vision, when will you be able to work with your team to realize that vision? “Leadership develops daily, not in a day,” notes John C. Maxwell in ’21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’.

PEOPLE – Anyone who thinks they are a leader but has no followers is just taking a walk. For people to follow you, they must trust you and feel that you are adding value to them. They must have faith in your leadership. If they can’t feel your heart and see your intentions, you’ve lost them [TweetMe]. “The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril.” Xenophon.

EXCELLENCE – The quality of being outstanding or extremely good is key to leadership. It means that you are in a state of constant learning and re-calibration; not only to better your leadership, but also to build other leaders around you. Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course [TweetMe]. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. “Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Colin Powell

If you are to succeed, you have to allow others’ skills, competence, and expertise to shine through. How are you doing this everyday?

photo credit: Wetsun via photopin cc

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The Maple-Leaf Affair

medium_8086903740On a recent trip, I couldn’t help but notice a well-dressed elderly lady in a wheelchair. She was sipping at what I assume was a delicious coffee at Muggs & Bean, just outside the boarding gates at Cape Town International Airport in South Africa. I gathered she must be Canadian as her bag had a tag with the red maple leaf found on the Canadian flag.

I did not think much of it until well into our flight. Incidentally, the lady and her husband sat across the isle to my left. That is after I noticed that she was urgently pecking away at an iPad. It was the bold, red, fontsize-24 Arial typeface that grabbed my attention.

“Handling the wheelchair is becoming a challenge. The pain in the shoulders and fingers is getting worse. Need constant help to get around,” she typed out and continued, “Should check out hospice [she even typed out its name]… Prepare for death.”

What? Had I read that right, or was the recycled air in the aircraft cabin playing tricks on my travel-fatigued mind? All this time, her husband would read what she had typed out and patiently respond to her in a soft, loving voice.

This got me thinking of how short the time is to make any meaningful impact in our community [TweetMe]. Should I waste my time chasing my tail or those of others? Or should I build my dream and impact lives with the goodness that was so graciously extended to me by my Maker?

As a leader, the three parts of the maple leaf remind me I need to do the following inspired by Robin Sharma:

First, I must CAST AWAY FEAR OF FAILURE and grow the opportunities I come across [TweetMe]. Robin Sharma reminds me, “Your excuses are nothing more than the lies your fears have sold you.” This lady embraced her fears and talked about them.

Second, Even as I work at it, I need to CLAIM STRENGTH AND COURAGE from significant others and God. I need to remain accountable to accomplish what I set out to do. Robin says, “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” Her husband was right there walking her through what must be a very difficult period in her life.

Finally, I must MOVE FORWARD WITH BOLDNESS that is the leader I was destined to be! [TweetMe] “Life is short. Be of use,” says Robin. This lady was courageous enough to accept her life’s situation.

My dream shall become my mantra. From today, I will actively remind myself to serve first. For it is in service that I grow my significance [TweetMe].

How are you growing your significance? What do you need to do to grow your service-leadership?

photo credit: mgabelmann via photopin cc

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Of irritation, pearls and leaders

medium_748081670Did you know that as a leader you could be soft on the inside [oyster] and still produce hard glistening beauty [pearl]? Pearls form in oysters when irritants such as a piece of broken shell becomes embedded in their flesh. The oyster fights back by covering the irritant with nacre, layers of hard deposit from its mantle tissue. With time, these hard layers of nacre grow to form a pearl.

I read a fascinating article the other day on how artificial mabé pearls are produced. There were some interesting parallels to how pearl farming has some similarities to leadership development.

You have to BE PRESENT to spot or identify leadership potential in others and yourself too [TweetMe]. At the onset of the pearl farming process, divers retrieve the oysters about 5 years old from wild stock areas is the first step of creating mabé pearls. Your leadership is what draws people to you and helps them to grant you the permission to develop them. You have to be available. “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

Now that you have some great people to work with, PREPARE THEM for the their new leadership role. They have to be guided, mentored and encouraged throughout the process. In the case of the captured oysters, they were placed in perforated barrels that are taken out to sea and anchored for about two weeks.

To make the oysters feel at home, a spatula is used to remove the oval shellfish gently from the barrel and place them in a warm salty water bath. This relaxes them, makes them easier to work with. It is crucial that your leadership not only inspires others, but it also provides the RIGHT ENVIRONMENT to grow other leaders [TweetMe]“You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” Bob Nelson

With the right environment, the hard work begins. Tough and sometimes irritating moments are bound to crop up every now and then. However, it is important to remain FOCUSED ON THE VISION. For a perfect mabé pearl to be produced, a dome-shaped plastic the size of a one-cent coin is deftly slid deep inside the shell under the mantle tissue. Not comfortable, but highly necessary. “Values are critical guides for making decisions. When in doubt, they cut through the fog like a beacon in the night.” Robert Townsend

As leaders LEARN AND GROW, they constantly have to come back to the vision and plan to ensure that their outcome and ambition are in tandem. You need a place that you can come back to grow, regroup and strategize. There is no need to mentor leaders if you can’t point them in the right direction. The paua oysters are usually returned to the barrels and allowed to grow, eating seaweed and producing coats of lustrous and hard nacre for the market.

When you are gone, it is the leaders you develop that will be YOUR LEGACY [TweetMe]. Paua give their lives as the mabé pearls have to be literally cut from the shell with a diamond saw! The dark paua meat is sold, shells polished and used as backing for the pearls. “A leader’s job is to look into the future and see the organization not as it is, but as it should be.” Jack Welch

What irritants are you experiencing as a leader? How can these irritants be used disruptively to build great leaders?

photo credit: paparutzi via photopin cc

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