One of our journalists, Ethelbert Obinna Umeh had an exclusive chat with a young African leader, social entrepreneur, life coach, leadership expert and Board President of International Institute for Global Leadership, USA, Founder and Executive Director, International Centre for Leadership Development, Nigeria. Below are excerpts:
1. Tell us about yourself and your background as a young African leader.
Felix Iziomoh is my name, a Social Entrepreneur, Author, Life Coach. The Executive Director, International Centre for Leadership Development Nigeria (ICLDNG), also the Nigerian Coordinator for International Institute for Global Leadership (IIGL), U.S.A; an online educational program that is dedicated to equipping individuals with resources to maximize their leadership and individual potential. It was through IIGL that I was inspired with the vision to embark on my journey as a social worker.
ICLDNG is an NGO that aims to empower next generation leaders by providing them with Leadership tools and New Media skills to help them realize their full potentials and become productive citizens in their communities.
A graduate in Human Kinetics from the University of Lagos and also a graduate in Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development from the prestigious International Institute for Global Leadership, U.S.A, where I received an award for exemplary work and achievement as the first graduate.
Felix holds the following certifications:
– Social Entrepreneurship; Centre for Social Initiative and Management; Chennai, India
– Leadership Studies; kanthari – Institute for Social Entrepreneurship; Kerala, India
– Citizenship and Leadership Training; Sea School; Lagos, Nigeria
Served as a Board member, Executive Secretary and Vice-President between 2009-2014 and presently the President for the International Institute for Global Leadership, U.S.A.
Upon return from 7 months Leadership training programme in India named kanthari (www.kanthari.org) in 2014, I initiated a new project named ‘Shift’. The initiative aims to reposition the mind-set of young individuals in order to reduce cyber-crime and advocate for internet safety among individuals when using the internet and mobile devices.
I see the International Centre for Leadership Development Nigeria as a means of sharing my expertise and leadership skills to the National level while continuing to expand my leadership abilities.
2. You were the first graduate of a US- based leadership organization, International Institute for Global Leadership, IIGL USA. How did you feel about your graduation, and how did it shape your thought as a young African leader?
Well as the first graduate, it feels good, although, there were a lot of challenges along the way at that time especially during my level three and seven as there was no one I could look up to guide me through the studies, but I was able to overcome the challenges by seeing the opportunities around all levels of the studies.
This has helped me to understand that challenges are part of our everyday lives and this shaped my thoughts. After graduating, I received an award, certificate and a brand new laptop.
3. How did your training at IIGL helped you in championing the course of International Centre for Leadership Development, Lagos which you founded?
The training really helped me because you cannot go through such a program and your life remains the same. The books on leadership, goal setting, fundraising, starting and running a social enterprise and management books I can recommend to anyone who wants to start and run his own business and solving a community challenge.
After the training, I realized I have gained some knowledge that I think the younger generation needs to know, This led me to write two books on leadership and goal setting which are available on (www.amazon.com) entitled:
– “African Leadership 101: 7 Secrets for the African Renaissance”
– “The Way Forward: 5 Effective Steps to Achieving Your Life Goals”.
My quest for personal development coupled with the burning desire to impact positively in the lives of the people, I resigned my appointment from my former employer and Proceeded to Kanthari – International Institute for Social Entrepreneurship, Kerala, India for a Professional Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Programme, and now championing and currently function as the Executive Director of ICLDNG.
4. Can you name some people that have had tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did these people impact your life?
The Founder of International Institute for Global Leadership (IIGL), in the person of Michael Lightweaver is the first person that have had a tremendous impact on me.. Michael has been a mentor and a teacher; he has helped me to achieve some of my goals today. He is also an Advisory board member of International Centre for Leadership Development Nigeria and wrote the foreword for one of my books.
Then Andras Nevai, a mentor, teacher and also I call him ‘a father’. He has contributed immensely to my life. I became close to him immediately I graduated from IIGL and as a result of our mentor -mentee relationship, he visited me and my family in 2013.
I will have to mention others who have contributed and impacted my life in one way or the other; they are Lynne Murguia, Kathleen Oweegon, Deborah Rosen, Brian Mayne, Brien Shamp, Dr. Anita DeFoe, Dr. Mfon Archibong, Dr. Emmanuel Ivorgba, Prof. Grace Otinwa, Sabriya Tenberken, Lawrence Afere, Chris Ibe.
5. What are the most important decisions you have made as a Board President of a US-based organization, IIGL?
The most important decision I have made is to make sure that students have access to e-books by reducing the cost of shipping hard copy books and to solicit for more funds and try to retain past donors.
6. If you were ten years younger than you are at the moment, are there things you would have done differently?
Well, I would have enrolled for some programs that I think are necessary for my work as a social entrepreneur, because age has become a barrier for me and I cannot attend such programs.
7. There is a quest for credible leadership among Nigerian youths; do you think the Nigerian youth are ready to take up the leadership challenge?
Absolutely, there is a quest for credible leadership among the youth, the youth are more visible and they are everywhere, all they just need is a chance to be in strategic positions and you will see what they can do. If you observe, most of the problems now are been tackled by the youth in their different communities and yes, the youths are ready to take up leadership challenges.
8. What is one leadership skill you think every young African leader should have? I will say Problem- Solving skill. This is because for a leader to provide solution to problem is a great skill.
9. What is one mistake you have noticed most African leaders make often? One of the mistakes I have observed over the years among African leaders is that they find it difficult to relinquish power.
10. Are there challenges facing leaders today? They are so many challenges, that if I start to mention them, it will take the whole day.
11. Are there few resources you would recommend to anyone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader today? Yes, I will love to recommend that more young people enroll for the online leadership program by International Institute for Global Leadership USA through the website (www.global-leadership.com), like what my mentor once said to me “The world is coming to Africa”. There are other online resources which they can search on Google, then try to read some motivational and self-help books.
12. What are your advice to young leaders that look up to you? To be FOCUSED, seek for knowledge, get a mentor, read books, associate with individuals that will positively inspire you.
If you think you can, you can, and if you think you can’t, you can’t.