Why we need altocentric leadership

The good old days where employees just knew their CEO’s name, face and business reputation are a thing of the past.

Today they also know your salary, your hometown, your connections on LinkedIn, even how much your house is worth.

And along with this increased transparency comes increased pressure and accountability. Good leaders have always stepped out of their comfort zones, but converging global megatrends are putting more pressure on those at the top to navigate a faster, more complex, more integrated, and more transparent business world. In a recent book by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell entitled: Leadership 2030: The six megatrends you need to understand to lead your company into the future, the two examined the repercussions of the convergence of major forces like globalization, climate change, increased individualism, and accelerating digitisation.

Some of their findings suggest that leadership in the future will involve increased personal and business-level discomfort. She agrees that leaders will have to cope with the blurring of private and public life and that they will have to forge new relationships with competitors and employees. This will require new skills and mindsets.

Leadership is the single most important thing an organisation can get right. But while organisational leadership is the most spoken about concept in the business world, it’s also the most misunderstood.

What no one is formally taught is the crucial part role modeling plays in organisational leadership, adding that a leader’s assumptions, beliefs and values also greatly impact on behavior and their resulting ability to successfully lead an organisation.

The way that role modelling and engagement happens is also changing. As Vielmetter and Sell point out, connectivity-enabling technology and virtual workplaces change how people interact. Leaders must now learn to engage employees across cultures and business roles through new mediums. They must acquire digital wisdom, even if they lack digital knowledge.

Possibly the biggest adjustment for leaders of today is a power shift that requires major changes to how they think and work. Many are accustomed to command-and-control, to fear over love, and to “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” But hierarchies are flattening as power moves away from top internal management and toward employees and a proliferation of external stakeholders. Companies must now appeal to a plethora of global consumer markets, each with distinctive attitudes and desires.

“What this essentially means, ” says Vielmetter, “is that leaders motivated by power over others will not thrive in this new world. We will see more” “ltrocentric” leaders, who understand that leadership is a relationship and will therefore focus primarily on others rather than themselves. These new leaders will be far more adept at engaging rather than commanding. They will have the ability to see themselves as just one integral part of the whole. Altrocentric leaders will be capable of long-term vision encompassing both global and local perspectives. This is a far cry from the old traditional egocentric leaders who were more concerned with personalised power. Altrocentric leaders, on the other hand, derive power from motivating, not controlling, others.

The altrocentric leader who is intrinsically motivated by socialised power, and who draws strength and satisfaction from teaching, teambuilding, and empowering others, will be able to handle the increased pressure of tomorrow’s business environment. That is why there needs to be a greater consciousness around the role of leadership. Where you have healthy functional leaders who give a clear directive, who on a daily basis help employees towards that directive, and who then display behaviour consistent with where the organisation intends to go, that is where you will find or cultivate an engaged workforce.

All leaders will see life become more chaotic and overwhelming, and their struggles and management will be more visible than ever. Egocentric leaders will have a difficult time evolving, if they even can, and will be unable to thrive in such discomfort.

Organisations need to develop leaders who are motivated by altrocentric leadership. The truth is people don’t stay with companies – they stay with leaders. And when people stay with leaders who inspire them, who make sense to them and who are true to the values that the organisation has articulated, the workforce will give what’s called ‘discretionary or extra effort’ and companies will be better prepared to succeed in 2030 and beyond.

Natalie Maroun is the MD of LRMG.

What are the obligations for employers in terms of PoPI?

The Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (“POPI”) was enacted to give effect to the constitutional right to privacy. However, the right to privacy is not an absolute right and must be balanced by justifiable limitations which give effect to other rights and interests, such as an employer’s right to access to information.

Employers hold a vast amount of information about their employees, including their age, race, ID number, contact details, marital status, union membership and information about their health.  In order to ensure compliance with POPI, employers will have to significantly change how they collect, store, use and communicate personal information belonging to their employees.

On 11 April 2014, the President published a notice in the Government Gazette proclaiming the commencement of certain sections of POPI.  Prudent employers should begin taking steps towards compliance as the enactment of the remaining provisions is imminent.

Employees will acquire a number of wide-ranging rights under the bill, including the right to object to the employer processing his personal information; the right to request details from the employer of any personal information held about him and information about any third parties who have or have had access to that information; and the right to insist that the employer corrects or deletes certain personal information.

There are eight data-protection conditions or principles that govern the lawful processing of personal information. The term “processing” applies to a wide range of activities. The data-protection principles ensure that the “data subject” is aware and in control of the processing of the information that the processing is limited to the extent necessary without unjustifiably infringing on the privacy of the individual and that it is subject to secure processes.

Employers are, in the absence of the employee’s consent, prohibited from processing special personal information which includes information concerning an employee’s religious or philosophical beliefs, race or ethnic origin, trade union membership, political opinions, health, sexual life or criminal behaviour.  

POPI imposes criminal penalties for offences. While we wait for POPI to be enacted in its entirety, employers should conduct a comprehensive data protection audit.  The audit should cover the full employment cycle from advertisements for vacancies, data collection for pre-employment screening purposes (both in relation to successful and unsuccessful applicants), processing of employee information throughout employment until the retention of employee records post the exit interview stage.

Melanie Hart is a Partner at Fasken Martineau.

Why you need to welcome millennial women into the workforce

It is time to consider the aspirations and rate of progress of young women in the workplace. These millennial women, born between 1980 and 1995, are our leadership pipeline for the future.

By 2020 they are expected to make up one quarter of the labour force.

Currently between 19 and 34 years of age, these women have very different approaches to the world of work from their predecessors. It’s time the corporate world took notice.

This is not just about equity targets. It’s about a culture shift in the DNA of the company, which recognises the unique contributions that women can make.

We have given a lot of attention recently to women on boards and in executive management. This continues to be important, since change in the top ranks is needed to drive change throughout the company. However, we also need to focus on talented younger women, prepare them for leadership roles and accelerate their rate of progress up the corporate hierarchy.

In South Africa, women now outnumber men by almost two to one in obtaining tertiary degree qualifications. Even in the sciences there is an upward trend. Millennial women are soaring ahead in universities and technical colleges.

Female engineering graduates across all disciplines increased from 9% in 1999 to 26% in 2011. Over the same 12-year period, female information and communications technology graduates increased from 9% to 26%.

In accounting there has been astounding progress. In 1999 accounting graduates reflected a 50/50 gender split. By 2011, women had overtaken men to represent 58% of all graduations.

To attract this millennial talent a generation born in an era defined by constant technological advancement and rapid globalisation demands a different leadership approach.

As PwC states in its ‘Next Generation Diversity’ report, “To become a change catalyst organisations must drive parallel efforts which tackle enhanced leadership diversity in conjunction with systemic change efforts targeting their workforce from day one.”

The PwC survey shows that opportunities for career progression and a strong record on equality and diversity are important employer characteristics sought after by female millennials. More than 80% say these are important factors in deciding whether or not to work for an organisation. In addition, millennials “have a strong appetite for working abroad, with 71% keen to do so at some stage in their careers.” Yet they continue to face prejudice when it comes to international assignments.

The challenge facing leaders of today is to identify the drivers motivating these women so that they can put in place flexible acquisition, retention and reward strategies that match their aspirations.

The new workplace needs a high-octane mix of talent to deliver the innovations needed to keep business competitive. The potential for high-performance is something that millennial women possess in abundance, but they are also high-maintenance employees.

Long gone are the days of a 30-year career in the organisation. Shorter tenure and alternative employment models have become the norm. The global shortage in highly skilled professions has led to massive skills mobility. And of course, as a result of technological change, skills become obsolete faster.

Smart leaders are building international assignments into their leadership development plans for women, and using specialised projects as a means both to build skills and hold the attention of highly talented individuals.

A recent Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor shows that women perform markedly better than men on the four attributes deemed most important for effective leaders. These are leading by example, transparent communication, admitting mistakes, bringing out the best in others, and handling controversial issues or crises calmly. In short honesty, transparency and collaboration matter most.

Let us celebrate the feminine characteristics that women bring to the new world of work, rather than trading in outdated male paradigms. Making the most of female millennial talent will bring rewards both to public and private sector organisations and the women who work in them.

Sandra Burmeister is the CEO of Amrop Landelahni.

· Leadership Communication Monitor, Ketchum, May 2014, www.ketchum.com/leadership-communication-monitor-2014          
· Next Generation Diversity: Developing tomorrow’s female leaders, PwC, March 2014, www.pwc.com/iwd

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