Monday, March 25, 2013

Leadership Lessons from Kenya

I returned yesterday from eight days in Kenya. As I’ve written previously, my son, Justin, leads a non-profit organization there called CARE for AIDS. It had been three years since my last visit, and I’m glad I went to see first-hand the amazing work he and his team are doing in Africa.

Leadership Lessons from Kenya

Since this site is dedicated to helping leaders (not just bragging about my son,) I thought I would share a few leadership lessons using CARE for AIDS as a case study…

Everything really does rise and fall on leadership. CARE for AIDS has been successful in large part due to its leadership. And I’m not just talking about Justin. He has outstanding leaders on the ground in Kenya and an outstanding board that is helping him lead beyond his years. If any of these leadership roles were vacant, CARE for AIDS would not be where it is today.

Passion trumps experience – in the beginning. Justin and two of his friends started CARE for AIDS when they were sophomores in college. That’s crazy, right? What may be crazier are the excuses many, more mature leaders use to avoid doing something big. If you’ve got the passion, that will suffice early on. Then, over time, your passion will be refined and can be multiplied by your experience. I believe leaders who wait to follow their calling are missing the boat.

Talent still matters. CARE for AIDS has recruited and selected outstanding talent. Currently, there are 40 full-time employees in Kenya and three here in the US. If we want to create amazing organizations, our odds of success increase drastically if we attract and retain the brightest and the best. This has been a priority for Justin from the beginning. He knows how much talent matters.

Big vision precedes big impact. Today, CARE for AIDS has 15 clinics throughout Kenya. If you ask the team, they’ll tell you they want more. They already have 40 additional sites identified in Kenya and preliminary plans for Tanzania and Uganda. Big dreams lead to bold plans and even bigger impact. Justin has challenged me for years to dream big.

It’s good to have role models. Justin is one of mine. His servant heart has inspired me since he was just a kid – he’s only 25 today! He is an outstanding leader by any measure. He is making a difference in the lives of people. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Thanks to Justin and the entire CARE for AIDS team – staff, board members, donors and prayer partners. Thanks for demonstrating the impact a well-led organization can have on the world.

What big dream are you waiting to pursue? What are you waiting for?

Categories: Leadership

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Comments (8)
  1. Inspiring post, Mark. Wondering if that cat pictured is the CFO?

    - Donnie
    • Not our CFO – yours? Mark

  2. Your visit left an impact in my leadership style. Thank you for your practical ways of dealing with complicated matters of leadership. Thank you for the wonderful gift from you – the book by De Bono. My great appreciation.

    - Mbugua Kihiu
  3. Great post. Great trip. Great organization with greater leadership. Great relationship you and Justin share. ….and great pic of lion above. Thanks Mark. – John W

    - John Wills
    • It was great to be with you and Kristine! Thanks for all you do to support CARE for AIDS! Mark

  4. It was so nice meeting you! I learned so much from the little time I was able to spend with you and the team. Thanks for helping me grow as a leader! Blessings, Amanda

    - Amanda Carpenter
    • Thank you, Amanda! Please let me know how I can serve you in the future. Mark

  5. You have to be so proud! I love stories of passion, courage and calling. Thanks for sharing Mark.

    - Daniel Harkavy