Promote leadership development at all levels of your organisation.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us … So said Charles Dickens in his novel A Tale of Two Cities.
At a time, when the rest of the world and sub-Saharan Africa is moving to higher ground, it is disheartening that we are sailing in stormy waters.
Two recent indicators come to mind. The International Monetary Fund slashed South Africa’s growth forecast from 2.3% to 2% for 2015 and from 2.5% to 2.1% for 2016. Given that the initial forecasts were painfully low, the reduction only amplifies how terrible our economy looks. We are far, far away from the magical 6% growth rate to reduce unemployment and improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.
According to the 2015 Foreign Direct Investment Index ® report from consulting firm, A.T Kearney, global managers are staying away from our waters. As a destination for investment, in 2013, SA was ranked at number 15 and slipped to 13 in 2014. This year, we have vanished from the list of the top 25 countries. It is one thing to slide down the rankings. It is another thing to drop off altogether.
In the past decade, we have seen noble intentions and brilliant plans come to pass. Unfortunately, they have been dragged to the bottom of the ocean with mixed messages, confused policies, excessive red tape and F-grade implementation, not to mention increased corruption and incompetence. The results are evident in our paltry growth forecasts and loss of foreign investors.
What we need now, more than ever is to tackle the root cause, not the symptoms. Borrowing from Charles Dickens, the line between, “we had everything before us” and “we had nothing before us”, is irrevocably defined by the leaders of our age. We need courageous, ethical and competent leaders who are willing to serve the greater good, ahead of their own interests. Unfortunately, these leaders are in short supply in the public and private sector.
In this regard, HR should be promoting leadership and management throughout the organisation. It is no longer enough, to select a few individuals for a leadership development programme and hope, that you will have strong leaders on the other side. Rather, take a leaf from Robin Sharma’s The Leader who had no Title and have every employee, demonstrate leadership in their daily work. Revisit your organisational values, job description and performance contracts. Do they consciously drive courageous, ethical and competent leadership? Successful organisations know that developing the leaders of tomorrow takes a lot of sweat and emotions, today. Yet, they are willing to make the sacrifice, knowing that it will be multiplied several fold in their future growth and investment prospects.
Until next month, call up your leaders, especially those employees who never imagined they would be one.
Yusuf Mahomedy (CA(SA), AdvTax) is the founder of Worksucks, www.worksucks.co.za, and is a reward consultant.
This article appeared in the June 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.