What kind of leadership does South Africa need right now?
By Carol Butcher
SABPP CEO, Marius Meyer shares his views on the type of leaders he believes South Africa needs right now. The traits he refers to apply equally to leaders in business and in government. He also shares his views on how he believes we should perceive talent.
“The leaders South Africa needs now are authentic leaders. People, who are there for the right reasons. People, who are ethical and dynamic, and who want to achieve success. Leaders, who will set people up for success. We find this in successful economies. There is no other way to do it. The level of uncertainty – chaos, volatility is there. The world’s economy is not where it should be and there will be more challenges. We need sensible leaders, people who can adapt to change quite quickly, but who can take a team with them despite the uncertainty,” says SABPP CEO, Marius Meyer.
Meyer believes South Africa needs leaders, who can give people hope and direction. This is something that would certainly resonate with the unemployed, and particularly the 3.6 million NEETs in South Africa.
South Africa also needs leaders who develop other leaders: “We need leaders, who will develop other leaders, to such a level that they are ready to replace themselves. Leaders should say it is their task to develop successors, almost working themselves out of the job.”
The country also needs leaders, who see the bigger purpose to say let’s make this company work, let’s make this country work, and let’s make the continent work: “These are the type of people we need. They are truly dynamic and inspire where we should be going in our organisations.”
However, leadership is but one part of the equation. We also need to change the way in which we view talent: “We need to view talent as the norm, not the exception. We should almost position our practices, the daily work that we do, by putting talent at the centre. We should always ask ourselves the question: ‘even at a micro level, how will my business survive only this week by leveraging the talent that is inside the organization?’”
Organisations often want to attract talent from elsewhere – get the best MBAs or the best engineers: “Very often there are more junior people in your organization, but they are overlooked. So really, it’s about putting talent at the centre of our daily practice. This will help us to almost create a national talent movement where people say we can be successful we do have the right talent, there are people in certain positions that are underdeveloped, that we have not utilized the way that we could.”
Productivity is also an important piece of the puzzle. “We have unfortunately lost the focus on productivity. How do we drive a successful company and country with a focus on productivity? This was the success of the South East Asian tigers. They have really been able to say let’s put productivity first and then we drive all our national strategies. We need to stimulate debate around that. We see so many bad things happening in the country, yet there are success stories, even in the most remote areas of this country that no-one knows about. Those success stories must be celebrated,” Meyer concludes.