Karima Mariama-Arthur is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in leadership development, complex communication, and performance management. A trusted advisor to accomplished professionals around the world, she provides insight into the fundamental principles that make leaders successful. Karima speaks regularly in her areas of expertise, both nationally and internationally, to audiences across industries.
1. What does it mean to be 'poised for excellence?'
Being 'poised for excellence' means putting yourself in the best position to succeed personally and professionally. When both seasoned and emerging leaders are committed to the thinking and behaviors that compel excellence, they are positioned to produce their best work and to help others do the same.
That's what my book teaches--how to master the fundamentals that pave the way to leadership success and how to challenge yourself to achieve a personal best.
2. What are some steps that shy people can take to become more vocal as leaders?
Being shy is not a bar to finding your voice, developing confidence and speaking up. The path to becoming a more vocal leader includes the willingness to be vulnerable and step outside of your comfort zone. If I were to create a formulaic, it would look something like this:
- Decide that finding your voice is non-negotiable. If you equivocate and make it an option, you'll always find a way to make excuses for not speaking up when you should.
- Join an organization like Toastmasters, whose infrastructure provides the kind of curriculum and feedback that will help you expand your skill set. Alternatively, hire a coach who can work with you 1:1 and provide more focused development and nuanced feedback.
- Practice. Every. Single. Day. Incorporate meaningful exercises into everything you do. Don't wait for your turn to give a big presentation to get your ducks in a row. Self-mastery is a commitment we make to ourselves on a daily basis by putting skin in the game. Speaking up is no exception.
3. Do you think leaders should lead from the front or back? What style do you see yourself using more often?
I firmly believe that leaders must be the example they represent. That said, I advocate for leading from the front and use that idea as a guideline for leading in my own life and encourage my clients to do the same. However, leading from the front does not suggest that you are only interested in furthering your own influence. Encouraging others to take the lead and providing them with the necessary support to be effective, is critical to the success of the whole.
4. What is a project, business or organization you have lead in the past year that you are extremely proud of?
Since I'm limited to one, I'd say I'm most proud of one of my executive clients, a CEO, who has completely realigned her professional development goals and increased her global influence as a result of our work together.
5. In a crowded marketplace, how can new company CEOs separate themselves and stand out as leaders?
It's true that the marketplace is extremely crowded and therefore it can be difficult for average performers to stand out. The first way to differentiate one's self is for leaders operating in the C-Suite, (whether entirely new to leading at this level or simply stepping into a role previously led by someone else, but leveraging their career wheelhouse), to be keenly aware of the impact they desire to create--in advance.
They must also be proactive and sensitive to whether they are fulfilling the company's mission and creating a culture that supports it and helps its lifeline (its people) thrive. These simple tweaks will, by definition, shine a bright light on their abilities and help them to carve out meaningful distinctions that easily distinguish them in a crowded marketplace.
6. What are three key secrets to leadership success in your opinion?
There are, without question, several ingredients that enhance leadership success. Here are three:
1. Self-development through self-mastery
2. A commitment to serving others at a high level
3. The willingness to put ideas in motion by executing fundamental calls to action
7. What is the best book you have read in 2018 thus far?
I love reading, so I try to consume as many good books as I can between my other obligations. This year my favorite is 'Lifestorming: Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and Life' by Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith. It's a great read that aligns with my work and has helped me to accelerate my overall success.
8. What was the writing process like for this book?
I experienced the full gamut of emotions while writing this book. But, I also learned a great deal, which was perhaps the biggest takeaway. Learning to pace myself and incorporate constructive feedback was also an important part of the process. Committing to see it through to the end, no matter what challenges arose, is something that I'm extremely proud of.
9. What is your best advice for getting through writer's block?
Taking a break. It's difficult to force creative thought. Most often, you'll find that the break provides needed clarity and encourages new ideas to flow.
10. What is the best advice you have ever received on happiness?
That you are primarily responsible for creating your own happiness. Extraneous sources are incapable of providing the substance necessary for igniting or sustaining true happiness.
11. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
I do. But I'd like to develop some new thought leadership--some original thought--before I begin that undertaking.
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Click Here to Purchase:
Poised for Excellence: Fundamental Principles of Effective Leadership in the Boardroom and Beyond