Keith Kalyegira: 'Give Up the Monopoly on Problem Solving' and other #CEOLifeHacks

Life is a responsibility that each of us is assigned, and not simply something to be enjoyed

CEO Night, Uganda Q2 2017

In the second quarter of every year, we run a series of ‘CEO Nights’ where the current CEOs/Chairs of the top 100 companies in each country spend time with the community of 'next-in-line CEOs' that make up The Africa List to unpack what the jump from C-suite to CEO really looks like, and how best to prepare for it. We only run 'CEO Night' once a year so to make the interactions with the CEOs in attendance as structured and useful as possible, this year we put some of our guest CEO/Chairs in the hot seat and groups of members took turns grilling them on their 'CEO Life Hacks' in productivity, leadership and management strategies and their personal journey.

One of the guest CEOs this year was Keith Kalyegira, CEO of Uganda Capital Markets Authority, who has a wealth of experience in investment management, advisory and regulation. He worked for Shell Group (Uganda & South Africa) for ten years before joining the Privatization Unit of Uganda (Ministry of Finance). He has also worked at the National Social Security Fund (the largest contractual savings fund in the country); managed the brokerage firm First Renaissance Securities and advised on the institutional reforms in the electricity & water sectors of Zanzibar, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Given his varied experience in both the private and public sectors, we invited Keith to share his thoughtful and vision-based leadership philosophy including how to fight mediocrity, why you don't have to be at the centre of all the solutions, and why he doesn't want to be a manager anymore.

What stops you from settling for mediocrity?

I am my own bench mark, I believe that life is a task that each of us is assigned, and how well you do at it is up to you. I’m continuously competing against myself, so I’m always trying to do what I do, better.

How has your leadership style changed over the years?

I’ve changed from focusing on management to leadership. Sometimes as CEO you think you're the master problem solver, so I always used to jump in with solutions. Now I try to listen and ask questions even if I have the answer. When you keep asking questions the solutions will come from the team themselves, and they can own the decisions and own the solutions.

What have you learnt as a CEO that you wish you'd known before?

I’ve always been more focused on the technical side of things but I wish I'd known to pay more attention to building relationships with people. When you do that people work for you and have your back, rather than just working with you. 

What is one trait that you've seen derail the most leaders' careers?

Absence of a vision - both on a personal level and professional level. If you don't have a strong enough vision that you can believe in consistently, it's easy to lose focus and get distracted because you don’t have the end in mind. I always ask my team, if you didn’t have to work for money, what would you do?

How do you judge your success? By asking myself - "am I walking in my vision?"

What do you think it's like to work for you? I think it’s probably quite challenging because I ask a lot of questions, I ask why several times and I always test the boundaries. I let people be as creative as possible but I want to know that you know why you’re doing something. I don’t want anyone to do things just for the sake of it because it's not very effective. 

What books do you most gift to others? 'Purpose Driven Life' by Rick Warren because it reminds you of your purpose fundamentally as a human being. 'Finishing Strong' by Steve Farrar because it reminds you that whatever you’ve done in the past you can still finish strong. 'Outliers' by Malcom Gladwell because it highlights the absence of coincidences in life, and the importance of spending time focusing on what you want to be good at.

Other than your title - why should anyone be led by you? Because I am who I seem to be, you don’t have to be a mind reader to know who I am. I know I’m a person of integrity and I believe that my word is my bond, so you can trust what I tell you and trust that I want the best out of you. 

Find out more about Keith on his LinkedIn profile here, and more about the Uganda community of The Africa List on their country page here