Now that the process is underway to develop a leadership standard for South Africa, it is good to see that so many stakeholders have expressed an interest in participating in this historic exercise. The purpose of the project is to create a consistent standard for achieving leadership outcomes in ensuring that the goals of organisations are achieved. Clearly, leadership is the most important factor in achieving organisational success and raising the bar for leaders with an explicit leadership standard is therefore of utmost importance. Three options presented itself:
- To start on a clean slate with no preconceived framework in place;
- To start with an explicit framework as point of departure;
- To start with a draft framework and refine it as the process unfolds.
All three options offer advantages and disadvantages, and these factors were carefully considered. At the end of this process, it was decided to go for option 3, i.e. to continue with a draft framework and then to refine it as we make progress on the leadership standard journey. See the draft leadership standard below:
The leadership standard framework consists of four key principles underlying the five elements of leadership:
- Leadership philosophy: It is essential that a leader has an explicit philosophy on leadership. The leadership philosophy outlines the thinking and beliefs about leadership. It answers the questions: What do I believe as a leader? Why is leadership important for me and my organisation?
- Tone at the top: The tone at the top filters down to all staff, but in essence it means the leader sets the tone at the top and the example of the leader is then followed by others in the organisation. A commitment to ethics and high performance from the top is essential for the whole organisation.
- Organisation culture: Leaders determine the organisation culture, in other words how things are done at the organisation.
- Leadership outcomes: Finally, the organisation achieves certain goals as a result of the leadership of its leaders, including how they influence staff to execute the strategy.
The five elements of leadership are depicted in the inner circle of the leadership framework:
- Vision: A leader’s vision is a succinct description of what the leader wants to achieve in broad terms. In essence, the vision depicts the dream of the leader.
- Values: The values of leaders guide their behaviour, and that of their team members.
- Leading people: Leaders achieve goals through people, and the ability to lead people and teams is therefore a key element of the leadership standard.
- Value: All oganisations deliver value to stakeholders in the form of products or services. The leader should ensure that there is value in products and services in meeting the needs of stakeholders.
- Reflection: Lastly, leaders should continuously learn, seek feedback and reflect on their behaviour and actions to identify opportunities for improvement.
In the light of the above explanation, it is evident that the leadership standard framework provides a clear illustration of what leadership is all about. On 14 September, at the Leadership Standard session, we will unpack the five elements of leadership and agree on specific aspects relevant to the implementation of leadership in the workplace. The draft leadership standard framework will guide the further facilitation and development of the standard. It provides a picture of the key elements of leadership to guide the thinking and actions of leaders as they lead their organisations and its people on a daily basis.
Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) and author of 21 books for Juta, Van Schaik, Lexis-Nexis, Knowledge Resources and more than 500 articles for magazines such as HR Future, HR Voice, Talent Talks, Leadership Online and Achiever Magazine. Leaders will receive daily updates on progress with the development of the Leadership Standard, they can use the hashtag #LeadershipStandard and follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or Talent Talks on @talenttalksnet or by visiting the website www.sabpp.co.za