Corporate Leadership

I would like to address corporate leadership in the modern world, business has become very global, and we can no longer operate in silos, as a country or continent. Leadership is a word that is thrown around in corporate and to most professionals all it means is a title of your position. All that leadership means is that you are an individual that needs to lead an organization to greater heights. Leaders must bring about change that is in line with the global business world.

My best form of reference for an effective organization, set on solid strategic goals, is one that operates in a form of a pyramid, which is a top down management structure. Most people are familiar with the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, well; an efficient organization operates exactly like Abraham Maslow’s model. At the highest point, which is the smallest, lies the CEO of the organization; this man’s mandate is to provide a sense of direction to all employees of the organization. The lowest part of the pyramid is where the chaos is (which shouldn’t be the case in real essence), as we would call it in today’s terms; “the people on the ground”. This statement is the most diminishing to the people who do the hardest labour in the organization. Now throughout this pyramid it is the leader’s duty to filter his strategy through the levels in order to achieve some form of goals for the organization. Leaders influence people and people react to influence, now this can either be negative or positive. This pyramid I refer to is what we know in the modern age as an organizational structure in business, now the levels determine who does the strategic thinking and who does the execution.

The leader must organize his corporation in order to manage it smoothly, therefore he develops mechanisms (governance policies, procedures, templates etc.) in order to implement his strategy by arranging or identifying what activities should be carried out, by who, and what resources should be employed to get the ball rolling. A leader’s duty is to influence the subordinates below him, to create a mood of working together for a common goal, to create integrity between employees to ensure that they all work in sync with one another. To create an environment that stimulates the employee’s minds to think freely in order to contribute positively towards the goals of the organization. We need to create a working environment for people to look forward to going work, and for them to want to contribute positively. We cannot employ people who want to solely work for an income and go home with a load of work stress on their shoulders.

Leaders are supposed to possess some form of power to influence others. Power can be given to you by the organization in a form of a management position, what this essentially means is that you are an integral part of the people who will assist the organization to advance their objectives. Some people possess personal power, this comes naturally to them. This power has been viewed with some form of negativity in the corporate world, because it is mostly associated with people that have misused it to for unethical reasons. These type of leaders are direct with their objective,they are very harsh when addressing subordinates, and they don’t take disappointment quite well. They basically want employees to execute their tasks correctly the first time. What I have

picked up though is that they are very supportive to their teams, they give guidance to their employees, and when things go wrong they will be accountable. I have also come to learn that people who have power, deny it; people who want power, try not to look like they are seeking it; and those who are good at acquiring it are secretive about how they got it. So for anyone who aspires to be a great leader you need to have a vision to accomplish large-scale ideas, have the personal power to see it through. Be able to transform your vision into a reality; having great ideas and sitting on them is no form of leadership. Great leaders make things happen by using their personal power to influence others.

Leaders are in business to create big corporations of great processes, procedures and policies, and governance controls in order for their employees to work together with a common mindset, to limit people walking astray outside the boundaries of their strategy. Great leaders assess employees on their ethical behavior, work rate, loyalty, and their outlook on life, to name just a few criteria. These individuals are identified by leaders to manage the people on the ground in order to take the organization forward.

Leaders communicate and share information, to create trust in their employees. Great leaders will communicate their financial data quarterly to their employees, because this creates a sense of awareness for them to be conscious of the market in which they operate. Most companies will not share financial data, and this sends out the message that their employees are not the integral part of the business. My experience is a company that shares their

financials, informs their people that this is how much we are all making for the business as a team, these are our expenses and this is all that is left for all of us to share. Leaders can often become unsuccessful because of subordinates that feel they are under paid, but if your people knew where the money is going to, there wouldn’t be this whole confusion. We all know that business’ number one mandate is to have some form of growth (be it financial or otherwise), but they should also strike a balance in providing financial reward for those individuals who are performing well.Leaders should share financials, at least quarterly in a year, in order for the managers to understand the financial threats and opportunities facing the business, in order for them to know when to tighten the belt or when to intensify their marketing and sales. This creates loyal employees; because as a leader you become very direct with your communication, and there is no one in the dark. Another trait that a leader should possess is to know how to delegate work, don’t be that guy that wants to do it all by himself, because you won’t have the strength to carry all the stresses that comes with it. Shed off a bit of load to free more time for other strategic activities, hire strong managers to carry the organization forward. Use your time think of the next step to grow your business or to have more time attack the challenges that you face, head on.

Leadership is not for everyone; period, and most leaders in the modern world are textbook leaders. It’s all fair and sweet to be in a management position, we have seen young professionals fast track their careers into management. Young people have acquired all these high qualifications like an MBA, which grants them the opportunity for executive positions, but my humblest opinion is that qualifications alone can be detrimental to the individual thrown in the deep end to represent an organization at the highest level. Leadership can be learned through theory, mentorship and progressive growth. Seasoned leaders should be interactive role models to their employees, to lead by example and to encourage young leaders to acquire personal growth, strong will, accountability and good moral standing, in order to build great corporations for our continent called Africa.

Writer: Kabelo Motsugi