Around the world, countries and companies are facing a crisis of leadership.
Landelahni Recruitment Group’s Delani Mthembu believes that there is no point in blaming individuals for the many ills that have befallen the international and local business world. “Globally, countries and corporations have become caught up in a cycle of greed,” he says.
“We face a crisis of leadership. Today’s business leaders cannot survive through position and power only; influence and relationships are of prime importance. It’s time for principled leaders to step up to the plate.
“The 2010 leader is challenged to understand the complexity of the 21st century environment. We are more interdependent than ever before, with knowledge at the cutting edge of successful companies. With this complexity comes the need for speed. Customers are no longer prepared to wait for solutions. There’s the challenge of innovation and creativity. That is the nature of the world we live in. The old theories of management are irrelevant.
“Fundamental values are the bedrock of the 2010 leader. He must respond to the complex needs and pressures of today. But he must be centred in terms of his own principles, values and ethical base. Principles are the adhesive that binds people together in an organisation.”
Mthembu believes that 2010 leadership rests on five pillars.
“First is being clear on the values and principles you believe in. A leader needs to be authentic – an individual who is transparent and who inspires others through his own conduct. He must be real and spontaneous, yet demonstrate consistency and predictability in his behaviour, thus achieving legitimacy and building trust.”
This is the kind of leadership that management guru Stephen Covey believes creates “new energy, new talents, greater commitments, clarity and common purpose that encourages sustained relationships without prejudice and control over people”.
“The second pillar, says Mthembu, “is humility. This doesn’t mean the inability to be bold and decisive. It’s about acknowledging diversity and differences in people, allowing people’s voices to be heard and being able to connect and facilitate relationships.
“Third is shared leadership or situational leadership; a character that is responsive to the context and the environment. A true leader must have the ability to manage networks, relationships and partnerships, not informed by narrow goals but by a bigger vision and shared outcomes.
“Fourth is the ability of the leader to maintain and sustain dialogue, creating vibrancy and allowing dissent. Allowing different or conflicting views enables teams to explore options and build conciliation.
“Finally, leaders need to be empowering and transformative if they are to meet local challenges and be globally competitive. Excellence, competitiveness and productivity do not anymore lie in technology and systems but in transforming people’s lives.
“A transformational leader changes a company by developing a vision for it, communicating that vision to employees and mobilising them to accept, help achieve and institutionalise the changes.”
Mthembu believes this means investing in people, developing them through coaching and mentoring, and rewarding them appropriately. “Leaders constantly identify critical issues that stretch people beyond the norm and push them to think beyond own capacities. Leadership has to do with unlocking the potential in others, while imbuing them with a sense of responsibility and accountability.
“Top teams and organisations realise that, no matter how good their policies, procedures, strategies and structures, they will be ineffective if there is no commitment from employees and team members to make things happen collectively.
“Fundamental values provide the bedrock of leadership. Ethical people will find space in principled companies headed by leaders of integrity. They will find synergies with the leaders they work with, built on a win-win approach, trust and complementary values.
“Principle-centred leadership means greater ownership, legitimacy, commitment and accountability, skills transfer and knowledge sharing, and passion. This kind of leadership leads to exponential pay-offs and business results that are sustainable.”