As we approach Mandela Day 2015, one can’t help but reflect on his leadership and the seemingly increasing absence of true leaders in South Africa.
While most of us are quick to associate leadership with the political kind, it is critical to realise that many other types of leadership exist and should be developed more deeply.
What many CEOs and other corporate managers may not realise is the depth of their impact and the importance of leadership in the business space.
This is not just significant for steering those within their company structures and increasing the level of engagement by employees, but a much broader impact within our socio-economic space.
It is not that business people should be filling the void left by a lack of political leadership but rather acknowledging that their actions may have a far-reaching impact both in an internal and external context.
The legacy of great leaders such as Nelson Mandela does not have to remain the responsibility of politicians alone. The power of leadership can be harnessed by anyone who realises its true value.
The far-reaching impact of this of course is that true leaders don’t just have the potential to shape and develop their staff structures but can also provide the growth that results in expansion and further job creation.
It is a two-fold responsibility that is currently not being recognised in South Africa’s corporate industry.
Despite an ongoing debate over leadership vs. management what becomes critical is understanding that while management will allow companies to comfortably maintain the status quo, good leadership will allow for long term vision and risks to become a reality.
Key to this is developing people and harnessing the strength of the human capital within your business.
Shifting paradigms are critical to adjusting the values of your employees. Adjusting basic values will ultimately lead to a change in attitude which in turn drives behaviour. A true leader will be able to tap into this without forcing a direct behavioural change and will assist their employees to adapt to constantly changing paradigms.
CEOs across the globe consistently rank leadership and talent management as one of their top priorities but as a country we are failing to develop real leadership in the workplace.
The reason why businesses do what they do and not just how they do it needs to be placed at the forefront of this development.
Whereas political leadership must focus on policies and the macro environment, corporate leadership must bring the talent and as a collective the corporate industry needs to focus on internal leadership development, which will naturally evolve into visible external advancement and growth.
Similarly to political leadership, corporate leadership is a double-edged sword. Whereas good corporate leadership can steer skills development and economic growth, bad corporate leadership exacerbates the skills shortage and brings about economic stagnation.
This article was first published in BizNews.com.