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7 Questions on Leadership with Jane Kiragu

Name: Jane Kiragu

Title: Principal

Oranisation: Nairobi Institute of Music and Performing Arts

I am a researcher, educator, and consultant in the creative industries of Kenya with 8 years of experience in Arts education, curriculum development, partnership incubation, and creative industries consultancy. I have worked with the Kenyan Government in matters of arts education and curriculum development, Certified in Competence Assessment, Competence-based curriculum development at the tertiary level, and post-training skill development for the arts sectors in Kenya.

An innovative and strategic thinker with the discipline to implement, a great communicator with good people skills. I consider myself a leader who has a passion for young people and women, and helping them actualize their highest potential. My particular skill set allows me to thrive in areas of youth management, research, strategic advisory for creative businesses, policy formulation and implementation, business mentorship for creative industries, community initiatives, and management of arts education.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Finding people who are genuinely invested and align with my vision or its likeness. Sometimes we assume that other people will see life as we see it or appreciate the things we do, but that is not always the case. Working with people with whom we share values, beliefs, and vision is a privilege that takes a lot of time to nurture.

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

I first found myself. I had to reach a level of self-awareness that allowed me to appreciate myself deeply and thoroughly. It was only after that I recognized that I had something to offer others. How could I become a leader who cannot lead themself? Leadership is adding value to others. You become a leader when you know yourself well enough to acknowledge unique skills or attributes that you can share with others.

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

Initially, I had a challenge. I was easily distracted and would work so hard, end up tired in the evening, and still go home not accomplished. Today, I work smart. At the beginning of the day, I make sure I have a list of at least 2 critical tasks that I must accomplish. This leaves the room to have a better focused day. I have learned to work in bite-sized tasks. That way, I have reduced burnout.

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

That you are not a leader because you are born so, one becomes a leader only because they are constantly learning where and when to give value to others. Leadership is about giving others value.

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?

The 5 am club by Robin Sharma. This is a book that changed my perspective on relationships and ensuring that I give value to people who are around me. In as much as it spoke a lot about enhancing productivity, the idea of investing in those relationships that not only benefit you but also grow others along stood tall for me.

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

1. Every day is a learning day. Do not let the sun go down with no new lessons.

2. Make new mistakes.

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

The story of the man who found a way to cheat the system and later realized the futility. James was an uncle to a friend. He worked with a government entity where he had an office job. James hated working and thus would go to the office daily, leaving his coat on the hanger so that his colleagues would believe he had 'just stepped out'.

James would go out for a whole day and only come back in the evening when it was time to pick up his items and go home. He did this for a long period. Because of this, he missed cultivating relationships within the workplace and of course on promotions as he barely got any work done. Today, James is retired with no friends, no particular unique skills, and a lot of time to waste that he is bored at home. No friends from work to visit him and nothing much to do. He has all the time in the world.

This story highlights the idea of leadership of self first, before leadership of others. It reminds us to do what we need to do when we have the time. Even without supervision. There will come a time to do nothing, and if we have been great people, we will have the company and resources to do so.

A great leader is a great human being first.

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