Joy Njau

Joy Njau

Group Head of Supply Chain – Subsidiaries

Equity Bank Group

 

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

Developing strong enough boundaries and enforcing them every day of my life as an essential skill. Through coaching, mentorship, and experience I have been able to learn that “Personal boundaries” are the invisible barriers between me and the outside world (work, school, church, family, friends, etc.) They regulate the flow of information and input to and from myself and my outside systems. If one fails to understand themselves well enough (including own preferences, needs, values, and visions), or lacks the necessary strength to create an appropriate boundary to enforce any non-negotiables, then success may be harder to achieve and/or sustain in satisfying ways. It's important to understand that we co-create what happens to us and we're an active player in the events that occur.

Who has inspired you (male or female)?

I've had the opportunity to connect with, follow and read up on many people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world, including well-known authors, world leaders, spiritual leaders, business leaders, and entrepreneurial leaders. But in this group of world influencers, there are also everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level. It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real positive difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them. These continue to inspire me every day!

What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

I was struck by the power of empathy in fostering growth and transformation in others (and myself) and in how empathy allows us to connect more deeply with other people in ways that without empathy, we simply cannot. I also saw over and over the other side of this coin – that we can cripple a person’s self-belief and self-trust when we continually attack or demean what they think and how they behave. This is not always easy to achieve. Experiencing empathy, especially when you're facing behavior or language that feels hurtful, destructive, and just plain wrong, takes effort and commitment. But without empathy, we can destroy relationships. We burn bridges rather than build them, and we constrain our ability to connect or even work with people who are demonstrating behaviors or values that we find challenging or in stark contrast with our own.

A superpower that leaders cultivate is to not judge what is happening. Ability to not label people or situations as “good” or “bad.” They do not just react to situations but evaluate them to decide what the right action is.

What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

Some of the most powerful leadership traits I admire in women is where they are leading by example and especially in stressful times such as these, people turn to leaders for answers, guidance, and direction. If leaders can uncover the lessons of dealing with fear, they not only become adept at navigating their organizations through tough times, but they also become sources of inspiration to those around them.

The greatest leaders seek first to lead themselves. They:

  • Dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them an inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path. It informs them of what they wish to attend to in life, and what they need to walk away from because it doesn’t support their higher purpose.
  • Commit to continually bettering themselves and stretching beyond where they are Leaders who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart – with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better servant of the world.
  • They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete” – there are always gaps, biases, limitations and prejudices, and new places to go with their expertise.
  • Engage with people in open, mutually uplifting ways Leaders with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They know that positive, supportive, and authentic relationships are the foundational building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve.
  • Invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be Leaders don’t settle for conformity. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted and the status quo.
  • They spread/share what they know Leaders who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They live the universal principle – “the more you give, the more you get.”
  • They uplift others as they ascend, and they never engage in tearing others down Leaders are happy to help and support others and have an overflow of positive energy that enriches the lives of everyone they work with and connect with. They walk away from “success-building” opportunities that will be hurtful and damaging to others. They know that those unethical, demeaning, or destructive approaches go against the very meaning and purpose they’re committed to.
  • They use their power and influence well Leaders who impact the world for the better are very judicious with their words and actions. They are ethical people, and operate with heart and empathy, and care deeply about their leadership and communication process and style and the influence they have. They take it as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

Allow me to share an analogy that one of my favorite authors experienced; "One day during his training, one of his teachers took him to a storeroom and showed him a mirror covered with dust so thick he couldn’t see his reflection well. The teacher wiped his sleeve across the mirror, and as the student coughed and wheezed from the plume of dirt he’d set loose, he told him, “Your identity is a mirror covered with dust. Clearing it may not be pleasant, but only when that dust is gone can you see your true reflection.”

When we look into a mirror covered in dirt and thick grime, we see mostly the filth that covers our reflection. This dirt keeps us from seeing our true worth and we only get a faint glimmer of what lies beneath the grime. The ‘grime’ represents our pain, suffering, blame, shame, fears, insecurities, doubts, and the heavy stories that hold them. It's only in clearing them or letting them go that we can see our true selves that was there all along.

What do you #ChooseToChallenge?

Expanded bravery and power Bravery as the courage to address what is not working and take accountability for what you can change.

Power as consciously and intentionally building more internal and external ability to become a true change agent for ourselves and for others hence expanding our well-being and success.

  • Start that conversation
  • Seek progress not perfection
  • Get aspirational—focus on not just setting but achieving and exceeding your goals
  • Expect the unexpected and have a plan in place
  • Find perspective—Listen, expand mindset, and learn from others.
  • Train your mind for peace and purpose everyday

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