Name: Gilbert Angana
Organisation: ACCENT LEADERSHIP GROUP
Gilbert Angana is a household name in the landscape of engagement and productivity coaching and purposeful leadership development. Armed with an unquenchable thirst for excellence, he is the author of the books "Purposeful at HEART," and "Engaged and Productive," in which he distils 15+ years of senior corporate leadership and coaching experience into strategies for influencing beyond positional authority. What separates Gilbert from the others is not just his commitment to helping leaders succeed but his authenticity. He measures his success in terms of the real impact he makes—turning leadership's stumbling blocks into stepping stones for leaders. Don't miss your chance to elevate your leadership with Gilbert. For more information, follow Gilbert Ang'ana on social media and visit his website at www.stepafrique.com/
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Gilbert's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
In my leadership experience over the last 15 years, the most challenging aspect, in my opinion, is building and sustaining "highly engaged and productive" teams that consistently and persistently produce exceptional performance both at individual, team and organizational levels. This was not only my rally prayer in all my leadership roles, even before I jumped into corporate leadership. I believe that there is no leadership without the people you influence; influence is driven by vision; vision requires action, and action creates momentum, which is then the influence (productivity) we talk about. This can only happen to satisfaction if the people are highly engaged. Thus, my belief is that building and sustaining such highly engaged and productive teams is the most challenging aspect for many leaders.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Allow me to start from the end. Many leadership assessments and personality tests I have taken over the years have always given me the same results - geared towards natural-born leaders, charismatic and driven, among other words. The latest one I took a few weeks ago, known as the Principle You assessment, gave the following anecdote, "You are most like The Commander. Commanders are driven to achieve goals through determination and holding themselves and others to high-performance standards. They tend to be driven and demanding leaders who are pragmatic and results-oriented." This tells you some bits of my leadership story. But let me jump back to give some context. In all areas of my engagement and tasks, I try as much to carry excellence as a tag in me - "not perfection" in fact I am very far from perfect, but I bring excellence. I have not always been the best of the best but, because of excellence, I ended up being pointed from the crowd to take leadership in many areas of my life, from school as a leader to my early sporting life in football as captain to university as one of the critical student leaders champions. So, it was pretty straightforward in my corporate life to be pointed out right at the start of my corporate career to be the sales team leader within three months of joining the organization. That then propelled me through the ranks to top leadership positions, and I became a household name in the financial services industry within a short period. Remember, my focus is on excellence, so I ended up having a transformative turn-around experience in all teams, start-ups and struggling departments I led throughout over ten years, not in one organization but several organizations. The goal for me throughout my leadership experience was to diffuse excellence to everyone I lead and interact. I therefore challenged myself on a single focus, building and sustaining highly engaged and productive teams. I read books, listened to podcasts, and followed leaders whose work helped me to continuously be aware of this single focus. And what a journey I can tell you it has been over the last 15+ years of my leadership to today contributing to global thought leadership and sharing my experience on how to build highly engaged and productive teams which I have given details about through my books, "Engaged & Productive" and "Purposeful at HEART".
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My patterns remain dynamic. During my corporate leadership life, I was a very early wake-up person and early to bed too. Now as I run my organization, I am a more moderate morning person and nocturnal. However, my morning rhythms have remained consistent. Initially, it started with Hal Elrod's miracle morning SAVERS for like 45mins-1 hr. then 5 years ago, I developed my own morning rhythms (An Hour 5.30-6.30 am) known as SPEED (Study, Pray, Envision, Exemplify (Commit 3-5 areas that I will value others each day), Declare (Affirmations). Then have 30 minutes to engage with my son before he is picked up for school at 7 a.m.
As a Coach, Teacher, and Consultant, my day is filled with these three areas somehow. I have between 2-3 coaching sessions with clients almost every day that I spread early part of the morning, midday and early afternoon. I have at least a class on leadership that I am teaching as an adjunct lecturer in one university in Kigali (online mostly as am based in Kenya) mostly evening, sometimes it cuts across the morning/afternoon (3 hours). If am not teaching evening, I have mastermind training with organizational leaders for 3 hours evenings. When not teaching any of these two, I am on various leadership committees in a number of non-profit organizations where I give back in various ways, including capacity building their teams and members. So mostly that is in the evenings. Saturdays early morning for me is book reading fellowships which I have 3 of them where I am actively leading. Then the rest of the day is with family, and Sundays are purely for family.
My evenings 7 pm - 9 pm or slightly earlier, are mostly for my family engagement. Then I jump into my nocturnal day up to late-night (12 am or 1 am sometimes). These are sacred for my research. For the books I am writing, like now, I am writing my 6th Book that will be released in 2024 October "No Path Here". I am also at the tail end of my PhD dissertation writing, in fact, am done; just one of my coordinator professors needs to sign off so that I can share it with the university for the final defence examination. I also do evidence and practical-based articles on our company website leadership. So late evening is purely my haven. That's how my day flows. Of course, in between, I have slots for meetings on consulting and business engagements with various teams. Most people around me tell me I have 2 days in one because of how I am able to integrate all these aspects of my life swiftly.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
This is a good question. I learn a lot of things daily since I create opportunities for reading for 30 minutes to an hour every day. I am currently reading a book by Dorie Clark called "The Long Game", and it is a gem. I am learning (persistent reminder) how to be bad at other things in my space of coaching, teaching and consulting. And it's okay. This is mainly to guard me and my reputation of excellence from jumping into an average in what I do. Saying no and being bad at some things gives me a rare opportunity to be great in what I do. My focus niche is on Leadership Culture Change. I have spent time reading, writing, teaching, coaching, and consulting on this niche I am growing into very deep in "Leadership Culture Change". So I have learnt to say no and be bad at other aspects of leadership if not culture change. This is also enabling me to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world. I think, speak, and research about leadership culture, and you can find a lot of resources and research I have done on our company website (stepafrique.com/resources). My final PhD dissertation is about Collaborative Leadership and mainly focused on the leadership culture to inculcate and drive effective collaborative leadership in organizations. So my lesson (reminder) focus on your niche (be excellent) - allow yourself the grace to be bad (drop) at others.
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?
Very good question. Many books have impacted me in different seasons. For example, "The Power of Focus" by Canfield, Hansen, and Hewitt I read in 2019 enabled me to set a solid foundation for what I do today as a Leadership Coach, Teacher and Consultant (Specifically on Leadership Culture Change). The Values Factor by Dr. John Dimartini in 2019/2020 enabled me to crystalize my dream, and Dr John Maxwell's Book "Put Your Dream to the test" made me test the dream, and I keep testing today on how it's going. Today I am ready several books, but I love "Go where there is no path" by Christopher Gray as it's in line with the direction am taking in my professional space. In Leadership Culture Change could possibly not be new but the new direction am taking in this space could be impactful not only to organizational leaders but also national leaders and political leaders as well across our various countries and continents. So that is how different books have impacted me but not specific preference.
I love also the testimonies I receive from others about how my books have impacted them and keeps encouraging me to keep sharing leadership authentic but practical lessons.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Dream, envision your life in 10, 20, 30 years. What would you want to be known for? Then Develop your Dream magnate by being ready to pay the price to fruition consistently and persistently. This is how you will move from, if only at some point, to this is it...am living it today.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
The vision i glorify in my mind, the ideals, habits that I enthrone in my heart is what built my life and is a reality representation of me today. I am an "Excellence" magnate. However, I also love to see others around me engaged along that journey. That is why I ensure that excellence comes from a point of leading with Love, Value others and believe in them. Not from a point of leading with authority. My vision to the world is to see a movement of leaders whose power of influence far exceeds the authority of their positions across orientations. If all leaders would love their constituents, value them and believe in them. If all constituents would reciprocate and do the same, today our world would be peaceful and exceptionally productive in all spheres. The wars, political imbalance, unproductive organizations that end up dead, unproductive leaders who heart their teams and many other aspects are a result of leaders influencing through positional authority. My role to play is to advocate for purposeful leadership in whichever small way through coaching, teaching, writing and consulting. I am sure I will keep transforming a few leaders along the way.