All things rise and fall on account of leadership. There can be no denying individuals shaped the world and the course of history. Leadership is not about popularity or group-think. Leadership is not a cohort mentality. Leadership is not being right. Leadership is the ability to bring others into a newer better state, to help them see the world in a way that they never thought possible before, to migrate the people’s minds from enslaved into emancipation, to help societies transcend the normal.
Perhaps this is our country’s deepest deficit today.
Over the past week we have watched the soap-opera that is PRASA with a storyline to rival Uzalo. In the usual South African narrative that now preoccupies our media, we look for the scandal rather than the truth. We seek the juicy embarrassing detail rather than seeking to address the issues casual to this occurrence. No matter where you look, its the same symptom born of the same disease infecting a different patient.
What is the problem? What is the cause? I would argue that it is not the government or political interference. Whilst this narrative has gained traction in recent months, it misses the true causality of leadership.
1. Praise in public. Criticise in private.
A forthnight ago, Siki Mgabadeli interviewed the Chairman of PRASA, ntate Popo Molefe. He argued in the interview that Lucky Montana – the now embattled CEO – was incoherent, incosistent and uninspiring in his leadership. He added that they had evidence to support their view that Lucky Montana thought the board was not “fit to the task”.
Here is the point: all these may be true. So what?
Leadership is not the quest to show how much better you are or how inadequate the other party is. Anytime you see someone behave in a manner that seeks to undermine the other person – regardless of provocation, evidence or basis – know this, that person is not behaving like a leader. My deepest concern is how does ntate Molefe now lead the board of PRASA and give insight & reflection to its CEO when he has publicly behaved with such privation. His ethical capital is now completely eroded.
I am not saying that he should not as the chairperson of the board have tough conversations with his CEO. Of course he should. Thats in-fact 80% of his role: to provoke, probe, question, interrogate and seek clarity from management and ultimately the CEO on the state of the business. You achieve none of these things when you behave as he has this past week. Its unbecoming.
Conclusion: Performance thrives or dies at the behest of leadership.
Speaker. Investor. Disruptor.
* Vusi Thembekwayo is a global business speaker who runs a management strategy business. “We help c-suite executives better build high-growth businesses,” he says. Visit www.vusi.co.za for more information.