Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Kate Onakomaiya on The Platform

Kate and John Maxwell

Kate Onakomaiya is a certified John Maxwell Leadership trainer, President of Garden City Toastmasters Club, Host of the Annual Leadership event Live2Lead in partnership with The John Maxwell Company, and Co-founder of Zioncomm Allied Solutions; A Telecoms and Advertising Agency serving Businesses, Churches and Individuals.

She steps on The Platform to tell us about her journey to meeting John Maxwell, and becoming one of his global leadership coaches. We also talked about her work, her early life, as well as tips on becoming an effective leader.

Enjoy reading, and get inspired.

ThankGod: Thanks Kate Onakomaiya for the opportunity to be interviewed on The Platform.

Kate: Thank you for the privilege. 

ThankGod: John Maxwell is indisputably a leadership expert globally, and you're one of his certified leadership trainers, tell us how this journey started for you?

Kate: Yes, John Maxwell is currently recognized as the No.1 expert on Leadership and personal development. I am privileged to be mentored by him and his team. I have been following John for many years and I am subscribed to his daily coaching video, A Minute with Maxwell (which I recommend to you if you are not yet subscribed, visit www.johnmaxwellteam.com). In 2012, I felt a strong need to add more to myself. I wanted to be a better leader. 

I felt I had a lot inside of me that needed to come out. One day, I received an invitation from John C. Maxwell to join his team of coaches through the Minute with Maxwell video. When I listened to the program details, I knew immediately I wanted to be part of it. John said ‘I wanted to make a difference with people who want to make a difference, doing things that make a difference at a time that makes a difference.’ That resonated so much with me and I know who John is, so I decided to jump on board. I became certified in February 2013 as a Coach, Speaker and Trainer. That was the beginning of an intense personal development journey that just keeps getting better every day.

ThankGod: Taking us back memory lane & down to your root, what was growing up like; Education, Residence, the Tribe you belong to and some other details about you?

Kate: I had a very interesting childhood. My Dad moved around a lot for work and he usually took the family along with him, so I attended 4 primary schools in 6 years! The family finally settled in Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon, where I come from. I have 5 siblings. I have a Bsc in Accountancy. I remember the first time I saw a rocket travelling into space, It fascinated me so much that I began to dream of entering into one of those and going to the moon. I must have been about 6 or 8, that was my first dream. At 10, I was very skinny, unlike my siblings, my dad use to call me ‘super model’ so that became my second dream. I would be a super model! Then my mum would tell me how I was very caring and would make a fine Doctor, that became my third dream. And this one consumed me.

I got into secondary school and when it was time to choose between arts and sciences as it was done back then, I picked the sciences. It was an easy choice. I didn’t know that I couldn’t handle the sight of blood for too long. During my biology practicals, we had to dissect a guinea pig and bring out its entrails (I still shiver at the thought of it). That was when it dawned on me that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood for too long. I am easily affected by people’s pain and suffering. 

I wanted to please my mum so I continued on that path to becoming a doctor. My dad left us very early and I thought that was what he would have wanted. After failing the entrance exam into medical school twice, I decided to stay at home and think of the next steps while helping my mum run her restaurant business. It was at that time that a friend of mine who was studying Biochemistry at the university visited us. He told me about Accountancy and how I could do it. He said Accountants were in high demand and I wouldn’t lack a job after I graduated. I thought about it for some days and decided I’ll go for it. So, I bought the form, filled and submitted it and a few weeks later received my acceptance letter. That was when I told my mum, she was disappointed but she agreed to let me go. 

I was indeed privileged to begin work in Standard Chartered Bank Cameroon a few days after graduation. I worked as a Financial Accountant for 6 years then I got married to my sweetheart, Rotimi in 2007 and moved to Port Harcourt Nigeria to be with my family. I continued working with Standard Chartered Nigeria until 2009 when I resigned.

ThankGod: Wow, you have such an amazing early life.

Kate: ThankGod, I believe life prepares us to live our purpose. Nothing happens by chance. When you discover your purpose, you will know that you have always lived for that and you will find in your past clear indicators to where you find yourself today. I believe God sends us signals to point us to His purpose for our lives. 

ThankGod: In what ways can effective and purposeful leadership values be inculcated in youths inspite of the seeming overwhelming wrong models on leadership?

Kate: It is true that leadership is caught more than it is taught. There are so many misconceptions on leadership, but as much as there are wrong models, there are also good models in our society. Leadership is about serving and adding value to people, it is about influencing people the right way and making life better for those who follow you. It takes time, discipline and intentionality to become the leader people admire and respect. One problem we face today apart from the wrong models is the fact that everyone wants to pass through the microwave. 

You cannot be a leader overnight. It takes time, discipline, commitment and perseverance. It is a process that happens daily. It is a lot like investing in the stock market. You don’t reap huge returns immediately, it compounds. So we must engage in the growth process to be a better leader. The journey starts with you. You can only attract who you are and not who you want, so our youths need to build themselves up by reading, attending seminars and identifying worthy mentors who can guide them on the journey. Everyone can become a better leader if they are willing to grow and increase in influence. 

Kate with John Maxwell and the team
ThankGod: Can you tell us about the Master Class Leadership Training, What it aims at achieving and who's qualified to attend?

Kate: I develop leaders and help them to develop their own leaders. The mastermind aims at helping leaders to increase in influence, learn how to empower their people and develop leadership awareness within their organizations. During the masterclass, we bring together people of like minds who are serious about growing and improving themselves and we interact with each other, network and share ideas. We encourage leaders to learn, lead and live with intentionality. I also come alongside leaders through coaching and help them achieve greater results in the areas they are looking to achieve greater results. It could be in their personal lives or corporate environments. 

ThankGod: As a leadership expert, what advice will you give to leaders in government?

Kate: There is no hope for a leader who refuses to grow. When you stop growing you start dying, so they need to subscribe to intentional growth and development so that they can fulfill their promise of serving the people and adding value to the lives of many. A position is merely the beginning of the journey. 

You still have to build trust and influence with your followers if you want to continue leading them. Leadership is not something you say, it is something you do. As leaders, politicians should be intentional about adding value to the lives of people, not for personal gain or to achieve public recognition but because they truly value the people and want to impart lives. Politicians should be intentional about the legacy they want to leave in the hearts of the people when they are no longer occupying the positions. 

Kate facilitating a training session
ThankGod: What are some challenges you've faced in course of training other leaders?

Kate: Leaders are very busy people and most often we get caught up with life’s activities. They are spinning too many plates. Many times we have to pause to grow. Developing and maintaining a growth plan takes a lot of intentionality. Most often the challenge is getting leaders to move from haphazard growth to intentional growth. Most heads of organizations are not willing to pause to allow growth to catch up with them. Another challenge I have faced is that most leaders believe that their people should receive more skills training to become effective. This is so counter-productive. 

A Standford research revealed that success is 87% people knowledge and only 13% skill knowledge. Most of the problems we face in our organizations are not due to lack of skills but they are mostly people problems. Learning to lead, beginning from self-leadership, is vital to success. One of my mentors says, “Develop the owner and not the business”. Develop your quality of thinking because your business is only as good as the quality of thinking you bring into it. Another is getting people to understand that differences exist between consulting and coaching. Most people would rather have a consultant tell them what to do instead of thinking through their results by themselves. They want quick fixes instead of engaging in a process of intentional growth. 

Kate and Nick Vujicic, an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs.
ThankGod: Outside being a leadership trainer and life coach what else do you do or what else are you involved in?

Kate: I am married and a mother of two terrific boys, 7 and 3+. I am also the president of Garden City Toastmasters Club, an organization that develops leaders and speakers. I also have a bulk sms business that I have been building for some years now. I am also the Host of the annual leadership event Live2Lead in partnership with The John Maxwell Company. The next one is coming up on October 24, 2015 in Port Harcourt. You can know more about it or register on www.live2leadportharcourt.com

ThankGod: Final words to our readers especially to the Youths?

Kate: I will encourage our youths to be responsible for their personal growth and development. Nothing changes around you until something changes within you. Someone said, ‘when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at also changes. Leadership is a journey that doesn’t have a specific destination. It is a lifestyle you live by adding value to people every day. You have to be committed to your growth and development and keep learning. There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going. The journey may be hard or it may take longer than we expected, but the rewards are stupendous. Build resilience, be patient, stay close to God because he is the source of true success.

ThankGod: Thank you Kate, it was inspiring speaking with you.

Kate: Thank you ThankGod for the privilege.


(Image Credit: Kate Onakomaiya)

This interview was conducted by ThankGod Okorisha, All rights reserved, 22nd September, 2015.

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