Leading at Scale: Embrace big, bold vision for your community
The writer

Leading at Scale: Embrace big, bold vision for your community

Leading at scale for impact starts with embracing a big, bold vision that impacts the greatest number of people in the community. Many leaders are committed to leading their organisations successfully. 

However, not many leaders have fully embraced their role as community leaders and the contribution they can make in the communities they operate. 

As Yaw Nsarkoh, Executive Vice-President of Unilever puts it, “leaders continue to focus on building their brands while the society deteriorates.” The future of organisations is threatened if the communities they operate in become vulnerable. 

I believe the purpose of every organisation is to dramatically improve the lives of the stakeholders it has chosen to serve and sustainably do so for as many as possible. 

At the heart of every leader’s purpose is empathy for the stakeholders they serve. Given the plethora of challenges our communities are confronted with, the empathy of the Chief Empathy Officer (CEO) must be extended to the customers and the communities they operate in a very active way. This must be part of corporate strategy. It’s not a CSR activity. It must be built into the organisation’s DNA and strategy. 

Thriving communities provide the foundation for corporate success. For leaders consumed by the true mission of their organisations, there is no better time to make a difference in the lives of customers and communities than this. 

This requires that leaders develop big ambitions and programmes that resolve deep-seated societal challenges. This is the time leaders need to mobilise all the resources available and use them to serve their stakeholders in the best way possible. 

I offer two examples of leaders who have taken this bold step of embracing their roles in society, espoused very bold ambitions, and are designing their organisations to address critical challenges in the community in a very sustainable way. 
Case Study 1: Patrick Awuah, Founder and President of Ashesi University, could have chosen to superintend over a thriving university operating from the hills of Berekuso serving about 1,000 students. He embraced his leadership role in the village and has been on a mission to bring “ethical leadership and entrepreneurial education” to millions of students across the continent through the Education Collaborative. Patrick believes that “every leader must have great ambitions for their society”

Case Study 2: Gregory Rockson, Co-founder and CEO of Mpharma, is “building an Africa that’s in good health”. He has been on this mission for about a decade now and “will not cease until every individual on the continent has access to safe and affordable medicines”. 

Through this big, bold mission, Mpharma is working with community pharmacies and partners including government agencies to deliver quality affordable health care and medicines to patients in unique ways. Mpharma’s innovative delivery models have helped 400,000 patients make savings on high-quality medicines.  

These may sound lofty but leaders must first be bold to articulate big missions as they embrace their role in the community. Leaders lead on the big problems in society. “All of us who are privileged enough to be healthy, to be alive, to have education, and to have influence, our role is not to do small things and to solve small problems,” Fred Swaniker of the Africa Leadership Group says. 

Today, it’s not enough to sell products and services to the community and grow revenues by 30 per cent annually. Selling products and services is a small problem if leaders do not design interventions that support the community to thrive in a meaningful way. 

The urgent task for all leaders is to embrace bold, big missions and to save our communities from deterioration. The organisation becomes the vehicle through which this leadership ambition is fulfilled. 

This ambition must be complemented by the humility which allows the leader to continuously learn and adapt to the changing circumstances in the community. Organisational health is dependent on community health. 

The first step in achieving organisational health is for leaders to look beyond the organisation and get engaged in the community. Leaders need to actively integrate community needs into the organisation’s mission and design strategies that resolve deep-seated challenges in the community. This is a sustainable strategy for every organisation. Any organisation that ignores this call will find itself on the wrong side of history sooner or later.

Leadership Reflection and Action:

•    Does your organisation’s mission address some of the deep-seated challenges in the community?

•    How can your organisation be most effective in creating the biggest value possible for the community?

•    Articulate a big, bold mission (BBM) that responds to the needs of your stakeholders and serves the greatest number of people in your community sustainably.

In the next article, I will share further ideas on how our case study leaders are overcoming systemic constraints to achieve their big, bold ambitions for the community.

*The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Programme, and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory. 

The mission of The Leadership Project is to harvest highly effective leadership practices and share them in a manner that other leaders can easily incorporate into their leadership practice. If you have got an idea or leadership practice to share, kindly write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Until your read from us again, keep leading…..from leader to leader, one practice at a time.

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