KEMI OGUNKOYA: Redefining Leadership

Today is another edition of exclusive interview with our exceptional author, KEMI OGUNKOYA, in the Authors’ Corner. As always, we are glad to have you here. In this impactful and educative interview, KEMI OGUNKOYA takes us through her journey to becoming a best-selling author and what motivates her to write life-changing books. She spoke extensively on the need for quality leadership in all spheres of life and how life can get a lot better with the right form of leadership at play. Join us as we learn more about leadership from a leader per excellence.

Kemi Ogunkoya

Please, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi. My name is Kemi Ogunkoya. I am a leadership development strategist, a management consultant, and an author. Over a decade now, I have helped business leaders and organizations develop the competence of their leaders, perform effectively in their current roles and seamlessly take on higher positions. I am the founder and CEO of Rellies Works, founder of the PowerWomanNetwork, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lead Africa Now Initiative

When did you first realize that you wanted to be an author and why did you decide to be one?

As I grew in my career path, I realized that success and growth cannot be separated from the acquisition of knowledge. Then, I became interested in reading and expanding my knowledge and frontiers. I also began to realize that there is so much to learn and share, as I started having my ideas. I didn’t want the ideas and knowledge I’d gained and expertise I had to die with me, and so, I looked forward to sharing them.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey as an author? What were the struggles or challenges you’ve encountered and surmounted along this journey?

For me, it was a journey of self-realization that there’s so much I have to give and share, what the world needs to receive from me. Initially, some of the challenges I faced were the thought of having enough to write, how the world would receive my message, and, even, the time to write it. From my experience and resourcefulness, I was able to overcome these fears. On the aspect of time, writing a book requires a lot of time, attention, and dedication. These were part of the things I had to deal with.

How did you come across TEBEBA Publishing firm and why did you choose TEBEBA as your publisher?

I came across TEBEBA through a friend of mine who had engaged in its services and, so, advertised it. Coincidentally, it was the same time I was looking for a publisher. The rubber hit the wood at the right time.

My friend gave good recommendations about TEBEBA, so I decided to give it a try. I was also impressed with the level of consistency I saw on its page and the great book covers. It had an international standard. Then, I reached out to the CEO, Emmanuel, and my conversation with him was reassuring; he answered a lot of my questions, allayed most of my fears and I was able to reach a level of comfort. So, from there, I decided to engage its services.

Kemi Ogunkoya

Now, let’s talk about your book, The Leadership Guardian. What inspired you to write it?

I’ve been in the leadership space for quite a while now. I’ve worked with leaders who didn’t think that they were capable of leading despite their positions. I realized that whether at the home front or national level, leadership is the core. Looking around me, I saw that the state of leadership wasn’t good, even for the future. I foresaw a place of intentionality in leaders who understand the future, the place of duty and responsibility, and were willing to stand up to that. I wanted to erase the assumption that people knew, that they were called to leadership, and provide them with the blueprint for stepping into their leadership roles.

The turning point for me was when I took a training in Dubai and someone asked: “You talk about leaders and the greatness of leadership; why should we even care? It doesn’t matter. Leaders get to do what they want to do but are not held accountable. I know I am a leader but I don’t care”.

So, when people who are supposed to be leaders are giving up because of the situation around them, we have to bring them to the understanding that leadership is not about feelings but a call to duty. From wherever you are, there is a responsibility that lies on your shoulder and you should be ready to step into it. This is why I wrote the book.

What is your book about and who is it for?

The book is about leadership in all spheres of life—on the home front, at work, and the national level—and it’s for those who are in these roles. Leadership itself is multi-faceted. Whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee, a parent, or a community leader, you are called to serve and lead. These are the people the book was written for.

Can you tell us what leadership is about and what it is to be a leadership guardian?

To be a Leadership Guardian is to be called to a place of duty, not waiting to be told to do what is right. It’s about you taking the initiative to be a beacon of light, being an example, inspiring others to a shared vision, modeling the way, taking responsibility, being a great leader to your kids, spouse, an excellent leader in the workplace, and at the national level.

How can one start influencing their world to lead well, starting from the family?

Starting from the family, you must know who you are. Who are you? If you can’t lead yourself, you will struggle to lead others. A lot of people are deficient in this area.  You need to understand that leadership begins with you. What are your values? What is your view of the future?

From the standpoint of the family, what vision do you have for your children and your family as a whole? The family is the bedrock of society, so we must be able to influence our home and review the family structure, understanding that what our children see is what they become.

The first step is to build family values and live by them, knowing that people are watching you. As a parent or guardian, practice what you preach. It’s wrong when all your children see is fights and arguments. Be self-aware; begin to lead yourself before leading your world.

Leadership deficit. What is it and how can it be curbed in our society today?

Leadership deficit is a gap in how we should be led and how we are currently being led, which is where a lot of issues arise from. One deficit is loss of purpose. When one’s purpose is lost, so many things go with it. Until we can get to the drawing table right from our homes, building values, to a point where our names are more important than silver and gold, we won’t get it right. We see moral bankruptcy, where people throw caution to the wind, where social vices are celebrated and people can’t stand to talk against bad behavior. Until we start standing on our values and shifting away from materialism, we’re not there yet.

What will you suggest to anyone who is not occupying any leadership position but wants to lead?

We are all leading one way or the other. One of the misconceptions about leadership, which people have is that until you are on the top pedestal of a leadership position, you’re not yet a leader. You may not be the CEO of your company but you are the head of your home. Leadership is beyond a position; it is a choice to lead. When people choose to lead, there is an expression of their leadership.

A recurring topic these days is about women in leadership. How do you think women should break out of their shells and take on more leadership positions?

Yes, women need to break out of their shells and demystify the concept of leadership. What I mean by demystifying the concept of leadership is that leadership is shapeless. Whether you’re a man or woman, you can lead. Leadership is about the competencies you have built. We need to play the value card, not the gender card. What do you have to offer? That should be the focus.

There is a question about women balancing their roles with the leadership front. I can’t say about balance but I know women can integrate their various roles, develop their level of awareness and emotional intelligence that is needed to thrive in these many areas. Women need to permit themselves and stop seeing themselves as weak but see the value the world can get from them.

How do you instill leadership traits in upcoming generations?

Converse and engage them; let them see what is possible. Help them see the great future ahead of them. It’s also important that the older generations lead by example. If we’re generalizing corruption by example, if on the home front you are the major liar, how do you want to instill leadership traits? “Monkey see, monkey do.” If we want to see effective leadership in the upcoming generation, then we have to be great models too. I am particular about mentorship and I have invested in it. Mentor them and coach them but most importantly, lead by example.

What do you do when you are not coaching people on leadership?

I do a lot of things besides coaching (laughs). When I am not coaching or training, I’m having a great time with my family, reading books, playing games, having fun times with my friends, and making the best of my life.

Kemi Ogunkoya

What inspires all you do today?

The possibility of a better world drives me every morning. You have to be in that place where you are very clear about the role you play in the world’s transformation. It makes the vision so clear. The possibility of a happier world, where we have happier homes, more sustainable businesses, and prosperous nations. These pictures inspire all that I do.

What has been your most memorable moment so far while working on your book project?

I had a lot of memorable moments, but there’s one I remember vividly. A day before the launch of the book, that’s on 27th August, 2020, I had a virtual launch. I looked at my board in the office and saw that I had written the date for my book launch two years ago! I had written 28th August, 2020. It was such an exciting moment for me. I was wild in joy. That’s the power of writing down the vision. I couldn’t believe I wrote this two years ago, and now, when I don’t even remember, it has come to reality.

As an experienced author, what advice do you have for someone who wants to get his/her book published?

Get it out! Never wait for the right time or the perfect message. When you have a message in your heart that is burning, do share it with the world. Have progress perfection. When you have values that drive you to excellence, they keep you on track. If you have a message, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just go for it. And while on it, look for accountability partners that can keep you going on your toes.

Which authors do you admire?

I have a lot of authors I admire. I love Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great”. I love his writing style. I love Malcolm Gladwell, the author of “Blink” and “The Tipping Point”. I love his style of writing. I love Robin Sharma; he’s great in the area of personal development and leadership and  I love his style of communicating messages, which is in such a way that is easy for people to grasp. I have a couple of John Maxwell’s and, yes, Kemi Ogunkoya’s (laughs) books.

What is the best piece of advice you have received as an author?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received as an author is from a friend who said, “Do not rest on your oars”. She said, “Find comfort in your successes and victories and know that you always have a message that the world wants to hear.” You know, there are authors who just go aloof after writing one book.

Do you intend to write more books and why?

Yes! Lots of books! I look forward to a day where I have a library of forty, fifty books or more of my books in my lifetime.

Where and how can we purchase your books?

My book, The Leadership Guardian, can be purchased on It’s available on Amazon, on Barnes and Nobles. If you type Leadership Guardian on Google search, several sites where you can find it will display. TEBEBABOOKS is also doing a great job in promoting its ebook.

What are your final words to the audience?

My final words are, “You cannot become better at what you do until you become better at who you are”. Let the focus be on YOU; develop YOU, never give up on YOU, and the more you become a better version of yourself, the more you’ll be comfortable enough to be able to share and give of yourself to the world.

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