How to identify and develop digital-savvy leaders

Constant change managers – this is the skill most required in leadership positions for businesses operating in the age of digital transformation.

Digital transformation has forever changed the landscape of what is required to be a successful leader; it has substantially increased the rate and complexity of change in business operations and processes, presenting a constant flow of obstacles that managers are required to solve, and solve quickly. 

Recruitment of personnel that are able to operate in this highly fluctuating work environment is critical to ensure business success. Businesses can substantially improve their odds of success by choosing leaders who are distinguished by the four tried-and tested, inherent enablers of effective leadership: brightness, endurance, drive, and agility.

While digital transformation and specifically its defining features of Big Data, the Internet of Things, data mining, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the power of social media – is push-pulling businesses to compete and operate in entirely new ways, the value of traditional leadership enablers remain as important as ever. Based on research and our experience working with global enterprises in multiple sectors, we see four personality traits that make up the foundation, or at least 80%, of effective modern leadership.


An agile or adaptable leader moves through different disciplines seamlessly. It’s more important than ever because digital leaders are continuous change managers. The digital revolution is redefining how, where, and why work gets done and what skills are needed. Upskilling and adapting the workforce to this new reality requires nimble leaders who can decouple from convention.


Not a product of a formal education, brightness is the ability to quickly consume information and draw conclusions. The pace of disruption is demanding that leaders need to feel situations on-the-fly, and furthermore, modern leaders can’t look to the past for meaningful parallels to guide their decision-making. 


Drive, or a burning desire to be personally successful, used to be the calling card of the Type A leader. Today’s leaders understand that success is found through collaboration, team building, and motivating the business group or company to achieve a vision. The digital revolution demands large-scale cultural change in the organisation, led by its top executives.


Endurance is harnessing intellectual stamina to reach a workable solution. Globalisation, matrixed organisational structures, and greater customer engagement are driving up the number of inputs a leader must process, and being able to deliver against a cloudburst of data points — quickly and confidently — requires exceptional mental strength.

Eighty per cent of the attributes that have always made leaders effective remain the same, however the other 20 per cent comprises a small set of new leadership behaviours that are essential to lead in these dynamic times. These three new leadership skills are coachable, and can be layered in to existing leadership roles, which can have a material impact on the success or stagnation of a business’ digital transformation journey.

Foster learnability

Leadership in a knowledge-based organisation requires embracing a paradox: what you know is less important than what you can learn. Effective leadership in the Digital Age demands a particular set of characteristics; continuously learning, curious about technology, and open to fresh and innovative ideas. The acceleration of organisational performance needs the same curiosity in the workforce through opportunities to acquire new skills, reshape existing ones, and diversify into new areas.

Unleash talent

Digital transformation permeates well beyond machines on the manufacturing floor or in a server room; it delves into all levels and functions within a business. A digitally savvy leader recognises this requirement and works to motivate every team member and align their contributions to achieve success. Leaders who support career development initiatives that are aligned to new digital business models will create a talent-focused workplace culture that attracts the best and brightest.

Dare to lead

Having the courage to lead is a critical but often under-appreciated skill in turbulent times. As the organisation moves through digital transformation, leaders at all levels should feel empowered to drive the agenda forward. Senior leaders must sanction a culture of measured innovation and reward managers who bring entrepreneurial passion and wise decision-making to the job, day after day.

Wherever your company is on the digital journey, you can improve your chances of success by choosing leaders who are distinguished by their brightness, endurance, drive, and agility, and who are able to incorporate the skills of fostering learnability, unleashing talent, and daring, to lead into their leadership skillset.

Lyndy van den Barselaar is the Managing Director at ManpowerGroup South Africa.

What is the challenge of setting a new national minimum wage?

Recent strikes and protests regarding South Africa’s new national minimum wage have brought to the fore the challenge faced by those who were tasked with setting it.

If it was too low, to avoid job losses in the lower paid sectors, it would have had little impact on the higher paid sectors. If it was too high, it could lead to job losses across all the sectors.

In February 2017, agreement was reached between the parties at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and it was decided that in May 2018, the national minimum wage in South Africa would be R 20 per hour. An employee working 45 hours per week would earn approximately R3 500 per month. The initial national minimum wage agreement also committed parties to avoid job losses that may arise, included a “code of good practice for collective bargaining, industrial action and picketing” and provided measured that aim to mitigate violent and lengthy strikes.

While some are happy with the new minimum wage, others want it to be much higher. This week, workers affiliated to the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) took to the streets to demand a higher minimum wage and vowed to keep protesting until the wage was increased to around R12 000 per month. However, some unions, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), support the minimum wage.

This month, the South African Department of Labour said that legislation and amendments governing the national minimum wage – the National Minimum Wage Bill, the Labour Relations Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill – were currently passing through parliament, and the date of implementation of the new wage would be rescheduled.

Up until now there has been statutory national minimum wage. However, section 51 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997 (BCEA) provides that the Minister of Labour may make a sectoral determination establishing basic conditions of employment for employees in a sector and area, which includes minimum wages. Sectoral determinations are in place in areas of economic activity where labour has been deemed vulnerable. There are eleven sectoral determinations governing vulnerable workers, in various sectors of the economy, that have been established. These are Forestry, Agriculture, Contract Cleaning, Children in the Performance of Advertising, Artistic and Cultural Activities, Taxi Operators, Civil Engineering, Learnerships, Private Security, Domestic Workers, Wholesale and Retail and Hospitality.

Once finalised, legislation will be promulgated to give effect to the national minimum wage agreement. Sectoral agreements, collective agreements, bargaining council agreements and employment contracts will need to comply with and be aligned with the minimum wage act, once enacted.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill also makes provisions for exemptions of up to 12 months from the national minimum wage for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises who would battle to pay the higher wage.

Further, the national minimum wage is set to be reviewed annually by a new National Minimum Wage Commission, based on considerations such as cost of living, inequality, health and safety considerations and inflation.

Meanwhile, public consultations on the national minimum wage are also taking place in Nigeria. Eight public hearings are taking across the country, giving stakeholders a chance to comment on Nigeria’s minimum wage, with organised labour reportedly demanding that it be increased to N66, 500 per month (around ZAR 2300). Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said that the new national minimum wage will be implemented in Nigeria this year.

An increase in the national minimum wage is likely to have a knock-on effect on an employer’s cost of labour. While this may be good news for employees, it may be worrisome for employers who might currently struggling to make ends meet. Employers should put the necessary plans in place to absorb the extra labour costs and to avoid any possible negative commercial consequences of a higher monthly wage bill.

Lauren Salt is a Senior Associate of Employment & Compensation at Baker McKenzie Johannesburg.

Why we should strive for optimum health

Statistics taken from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that:

 – Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of health care costs in the US;
– Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%;
– All countries face major challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are ready to make the most of this demographic shift;
– More than one-third of Americans are overweight or obese;
– As of 2012, 117 million Americans had one or more chronic illnesses, which account for 75 percent of all healthcare costs in the US; and
– In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths. Its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

I believe that now more than ever, especially based on the above statistics that our health should be our Number 1 priority. We need to start taking better care of ourselves and go back to using nature as it was intended. Our focus should be on prevention rather than cures. Voltaire wisely said, “Doctors pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into human beings of whom they know nothing.” It’s about breaking that vicious cycle, using drugs to treat one condition, side effects creates another condition, additional drugs required to treat new condition, possible life-long dependency.

In essence, our bodies are the vehicles taking us through this journey we call life. How we take care of and treat our bodies will determine whether our journey will be bumpy or smooth. Attaining optimum health is not illusive and it is not only available to a privileged few; it is attainable by all who are willing to work for it.

The World Health Organization defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Being “healthy” therefore, is not defined by how we look, how much we weigh, what we eat or by our exercise regime – it is about our total mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

The absence of disease or infirmity does not indicate the status of one’s health, and it certainly does not mean that you healthy. This concept of optimum health is highly individualized and as a result, remarkably different for each and every one of us. It focuses on the individual as a whole and incorporates various approaches and the help of various healthcare professionals to get one to that level. One definition of optimum health states that, “it is an individual person’s physical, emotional and mental health abilities. That is, it is the health goals that a person can realistically achieve to feel their personal best. No two people’s health goals are the same, that’s why optimal health is such an individualized matter. There is no right or wrong when it comes to optimal health, really, it’s just a matter of finding what best suits you and your abilities.”

There are various natural health alternatives from both the east and west that one can choose to follow and incorporate into their everyday lives in order to achieve and maintain optimum health. These alternatives have proven to be very effective not only in my life, but in the lives of countless others who have used them at various stages in their quest of achieving and maintaining optimum health.

Modern medicine as we know it today originated from doctors in ancient times using plants and herbs to treat and cure diseases. Since we are now living in the 21st century, one can safely say that the use of natural alternatives has worked and continued to work as evidenced by the survival of the human race thus far.

It was during my quest for optimum health that I came across a stone I coined “The Wonder Stone”. This “wonder stone” is in fact called tourmaline, which is a gemstone, a semi-precious natural crystal stone. It is also known as the electric stone because of its ability to generate negative ions and far infrared rays (FIR). The stone also has the ability to convert the moisture in the air into negative ions and generate weak electric current – piezoelectric (the name comes from piezein — Greek for “squeeze”) and pyroelectric effect. The properties of the stone was discovered by French physicist Pierre Curie and his older brother Jacques in 1880 when they found that putting pressure on various crystals created electricity. They also discovered that when tourmaline was heated, it carried a weak electric charge called pyroelectricity and piezoelectricity was also produced when pressure was applied to its surface. Research in Japan later confirmed that tourmaline produced a faint but constant electric charge of 0.06mA, which is why tourmaline continues to be known as “the electric stone,” especially in Asia. This electrical charge enables tourmaline to produce far infrared photon energy, negative ions, and alpha waves. Japanese researchers also found that no matter how small tourmaline is ground or crushed, it is still capable of conveying an electric current.

About now you are wondering what exactly are negative ions and FIR (Far Infrared Rays) are. Negative ions are sometimes known as air vitamins. They are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. These environments include mountains, waterfalls and beaches. In the bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin and are thought to have multiple healing effects on the mind and body. These negative ions produced by tourmaline are completely safe and natural and have no negative side effects.

Here are five benefits of Negative Ions:

1) Boosts energy;
2) Strengthens the immune system;
3) Improves blood circulation (dilation of vessels);
4) Purifies the blood (increase in alkalinity); and
5) Enhances heart function.

Far infrared another key component of tourmaline was also being studied extensively by medical professionals, as is evident by a study published in the US National Library of Medicine in 2012. The study in an article – Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications states that: All living organisms are subjected to the natural electromagnetic radiation reaching the earth from the sun. Living organisms experience the beneficial as well as adverse effects of it at all levels, starting from sub-cellular organelles and ending with the whole body. Thermal radiation (or infrared) is a band of energy in the complete electromagnetic spectrum and it has been used effectively for millennia to treat/ease certain maladies and discomforts. With the development of better technology to deliver pure far infrared radiation (FIR), the benefits from its effects have widened.

Nowadays, specialty FIR emitting heat lamps and garments made up of filaments (fibers) impregnated with FIR emitting nanoparticles are becoming used to deliver these thermal radiation effects … as a promising treatment modality for certain medical conditions.

As a gem stone, tourmaline comes in various colours and bears different significance depending on the colour. Here are three benefits of each colour.

Blue Tourmaline

1) Used to treat motion sickness;
2) Promotes living in harmony with all aspects of one’s environment, a good night’s sleep, insightful dreams and vivid dream recall; and
3) Powerful healer for sadness and grief.

Green Tourmaline

1) Relieves anxiety;
2) Increases your sexual energy; and
3) Attracts success.

Red Tourmaline

1) Soothes the nervous system and may be useful in treating hysteria, depression and obsession;
2) Used for harmonizing the feminine energies; and
3) Helps neutralize the harmful effects of microwaves, computers and other electronics.

Black Tourmaline

1) Dispels the electromagnetic vibrations given off by cell phones and computers;
2) Provides an excellent shield against environmental pollutants; and
3) Provides pain relief and assists with strained or torn muscles, numbness, arthritis, and scar tissue.

Yellow Tourmaline

1) Eliminates intestinal and liver problems;
2) Balances emotions; and
3) Relieves headaches.

White Tourmaline

1) One of the cornerstones of power within the gem therapy;
2) Connects the emotions and the mind, to enable you to see what you are feeling more clearly; and
3) Enhances your creativity.

Tourmaline as a gemstone is worn as jewellery by many and can also be incorporated into many different products. This is done by converting the tourmaline into a fine powder and then infusing it accordingly into the products. The potential and benefits from the use of this stone are tremendous and can certainly play a big part in our quest for optimum health.

Ms. Peggy Weekes is the author of the new upcoming book, A Mix of Two Worlds: Nature’s Best from the East and the West for Optimum Health.

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