Move over boss - we want a real leader

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Move over boss - we want a real leader

Demand is growing in SA for self-aware leaders who inspire teams, support growth and are ethical

Senior reporter

The days of bosses invoking fear using control and command tactics are numbered.
As employees become more empowered, the demand for self-aware leaders to inspire teams, support professional growth and show ethical behaviour has started to grow in South Africa.
So says Johannesburg leadership development expert Bryan Hattingh, whose company Cycan has worked with the leaders of major mines, banks and telecommunications conglomerates.
“The bosses of local and international organisations across industries all have one thing in common: they realise that having leaders with the right heart, mind and behaviour sets will exponentially change the course of their business,” he said.
According to Forbes, self-awareness is regarded as the “most important capability for leaders to develop”.
The authors of How To Become a Better Leader, which was published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, believe that successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or compensate for them.Forbes said a study of the stock performance of 486 publicly traded companies, found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than poorly performing companies.
“The working world wants leaders who are self-aware. We are seeing that it is becoming increasingly challenging for leaders to be effective in a world that is changing dramatically. What’s interesting is that we are seeing a move away from command and control type leadership,” said Hattingh.
“Organisations and sectors where command and control is prevalent are feeling increasing levels of stress and discomfort in trying to manage what has become unwieldy.”
Hattingh said research from top international universities like Harvard show there is a need for leaders who are self-aware.
“In fact the research that is being done shows significant difference in organisations run by self-aware leaders and non-self aware leaders. It’s not marginal but quite substantial.”
Hattingh and his team help transform business executives – willing to discover their inner selves – through digital leadership portals, team actualisation programmes and one-on-one coaching.
Most leadership development experts believe that to transition from a manager to a leader, one must have a sense of one's strengths and weaknesses and be able to envision advancement and growth.
William George, a Harvard Business School academic, found while interviewing 125 authentic leaders that the essence of leadership comes from not from having pre-defined characteristics.
“Rather, it comes from knowing yourself – your strengths and weaknesses – by understanding your unique life story and the challenges you have experienced.”Hattingh, through his training, is hoping to create responsible business leaders who are not only concerned about enriching themselves.
“It’s about creating businesses that have a ‘give’ mentality, rather than a ‘take’ mentality.
“We have 50% of our youth unemployed. We’ve got to do something dramatic to build leaders at all levels, to create sustainability and jobs.
“But if everybody is just in it for themselves they’re not going to reach out beyond a certain point. For many it’s all just about the bottom line.”
Hattingh also found during his dealings with high achieving leaders that their stress levels are worrying.
“A very high percent of high achievers are operating from a fear-motivating model, which is not very healthy because it in itself creates stress within and stress actually makes you sick.
“A lot of people, particularly high achievers, are very task-oriented. If you’re looking at them from the outside you will see they are ticking all the boxes ... But we don’t know what’s going on in the inside. It’s a matter of time before something is going to give.”

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