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7 Questions on Leadership with Albert Nyaaba Akoubila

Name: Albert Nyaaba Akoubila

Title: Programmes Manager/EoF Consultant

Organisation: Street Child UK, Ghana

Albert Nyaaba Akoubila is a Development Practitioner, an Education Advisor, and a Consultant, currently serving as Programs Manager and Consultant at Street Child

UK, a Charity Organization.

Previously, Albert held the position of Education Development Manager, and Teaching and Learning Coordinator at School for Life and Impact (Ed) International respectively. Before that, he led strategic initiatives with Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) as a Regional Lead, offering a wide-ranging management and leadership in development practice and policy support at all levels.

He has also managed various strategy & implementation projects at British Council as well as at Discovery Learning Alliance (DLA).

Over the years he has demonstrated a track record in leading organizational development and change, managing for impact, strategy and partnership development, staff training and development, and building high impact teams.

With a rich in impact assessment and evaluation experience, Albert serves as a Member Consultant at Endogen Global Consult, where he supports innovation initiatives to provide expert advice, guidance, and solutions to organizations or individuals (clients) facing specific challenges or seeking to improve their performance, efficiency, or operations worldwide.

Recognized for his insights, Albert possesses exceptional discussion skills and in-depth knowledge in his field, making him a highly sought-after speaker. His expertise, combined with a compelling presentation style, captivates audiences, making him a standout figure at various forums, conferences, and industry events.

Albert holds a Bachelor’s in Physics (with computing) and an MBA (Management and Organizational Development) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and an MA (Development Education Studies) from the University for Development Studies.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Albert's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

A recent hurdle emerged in my role as a Programs Manager at Street Child UK, overseeing the implementation of the Ghana Education Outcomes project under the Education Outcome Fund. The inaugural year faced a shortened timeline following adjustments in the academic calendar post the COVID-19 pandemic. Managing a consortium comprising four organizations and overseeing a team of over 100 project personnel, our primary challenge involved swiftly rolling out the ALP component within a six-month span to align with the revised school calendar. This encompassed mobilizing and enlisting over 5000 out-of-school children to ensure their educational progress and a smooth transition into mainstream schools.

Simultaneously, addressing the enhancement of learning outcomes by 0.03 SD in 200 underprivileged schools accommodating around 30,000 students posed intricate challenges. The geographical remoteness and limited accessibility compounded the complexities. This necessitated cohesive actions across all six operational districts while motivating teams to surpass their regular workload.

During these challenges, overseeing technical complications while superintending many teams became essential. The goal stayed unchanged: ensure the project's timely delivery and adherence to the assigned budget. This demanded skillful synchronization, impactful management, and careful focus on particulars.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

In the initial phase of my career, I was fortunate to receive guidance and mentorship from seasoned leaders. I had the privilege of earning their confidence, leading them to delegate numerous tasks to me. I headed teams responsible for devising interventions, crafting technical documents, and more.

This bestowed upon me an exceptional chance for burgeoning leadership development early in my professional journey. I served as a Lead Figure for a coalition of twelve NGOs/CBOs spearheading the Adolescent Reproductive Health Rights initiative, aiming to positively influence the lives of over 200,000 children and their guardians in Northern Ghana.

Throughout my tenure on the TCAI project in IPA, my supervisor entrusted me with directing the project and overseeing the majority of its operations. I also played a pivotal role in augmenting and spearheading the project's impact evaluation.

In essence, steering this project endowed me with invaluable experiences, enriching my leadership acumen and equipping me to tackle intricate transformative endeavors within a dynamic and high-pressure environment.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

As a leader, particularly in my capacity as an EOF Consultant, organizing my workdays is imperative for maintaining productivity, efficacy, and overall well-being. I typically lean towards being a nocturnal individual. I remain awake to plan the upcoming day by crafting a prioritized list of essential tasks and identifying key staff I need to engage with or catch up with at the outset of the morning.

My morning routine commences at 7:00 am, initiating with a 20-minute exercise session followed by a shower before either commuting to the office or commencing work from home. I don't eat breakfast, take tea, or coffee; water is sufficient for my needs.

Upon settling at my workspace, I promptly concentrate on my to-do list and dive into action. I maintain flexibility and accommodate daily exigencies, allowing for adjustments in my plans. A considerable portion of my day revolves around meetings, encompassing both virtual and physical gatherings, along with frequent travel to project locations.

I reserve dedicated intervals within each week to delve into strategic plans, innovations, and change initiatives. This entails striking a balance among monitoring visits, meetings, and strategic planning. I relish lunchtime, often sharing it with staff and friends, during which we discuss various topics such as technology, politics, economics, global issues, etc. My evenings are primarily allocated for family time, although occasionally, I manage to accommodate calls and meetings with partners or other individuals residing in different time zones.

During weekends, I prioritize spending quality time with my family and allocate some leisure moments for reading or meeting friends.

Adhering to this structured routine enables me to effectively manage my responsibilities, strike a harmonious balance between work commitments and personal life, and continually progress towards my professional and personal objectives as a senior leader.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

An important lesson that resonates with me is the significance of providing a platform for growth and leveraging personal connections to drive transformative change. Cultivating professional relationships founded on both work and mutual respect is essential.

Additionally, I've gained insight into the idea that each individual brings unique strengths to the table. Therefore, striving for equilibrium among team members and guiding them based on their strengths while offering tailored support fosters a more efficient and cohesive team.

These instances emphasize the importance of leadership extending beyond verbal directives. Leading through comprehension and personalized support contributes to enhanced team synergy, heightened involvement, and improved problem-solving abilities within the organization.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

It's challenging to single out just one book; rather, two particular titles resonate with me. "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson and "The One Minute Manager" by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson both offer invaluable insights that profoundly influence a leader's mindset and approach to leadership.

Delving into "The One Minute Manager," it furnishes pragmatic guidance on effective leadership employing three core techniques: one-minute goal setting, one-minute praising, and one-minute reprimands.

This book underscores the importance of establishing explicit goals, delivering immediate and precise feedback, and swiftly addressing issues while fostering a culture of appreciation and support for employees.

It highlights the vital role of clear communication, positive reinforcement, and addressing challenges promptly and constructively. Through the wisdom shared by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, I've honed my leadership style by drawing from their examples, an enriching experience validated across various leadership roles I've undertaken.

All I do is to catch my team doing something great and I praise them and share their practice with others.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

If I could impart just one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: Be transparent in challenging situations, embrace continuous learning and growth. Stay curious, remain open to new ideas, and actively seek opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills. Cultivating a learning mindset allows you to adapt to changing circumstances, innovate, and evolve as a more effective leader. Embrace challenges as learning opportunities and never stop exploring ways to improve yourself and those around you.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Throughout my leadership role in the TCAI project, a remarkable episode unfolded when I led a team implementing an educational initiative in an isolated community. We encountered a myriad of challenges, ranging from scarce resources to cultural hurdles affecting community engagement. An illustrative instance occurred when we faced opposition from the local community, questioning the authenticity of education or external assistance.

Through patient discussions and a collaborative approach, we fostered trust by actively engaging community leaders in planning and decision-making. This collaboration culminated in the successful establishment of a remedial learning center for in school children, enhancing educational accessibility and empowering the community.

The most gratifying aspect was observing the community's transformation, witnessing children attending classes, elders participating in discussions, and an increasing enthusiasm for learning. These tangible outcomes underscored the profound impact of effective leadership and cooperation.

This experience reaffirmed the significance of cultural awareness, community participation, and unwavering persistence in effecting enduring change. It underscored that impactful leadership extends beyond mere strategies; it revolves around nurturing connections and empowering communities towards a collective vision of advancement and growth.

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