“Beyond Transformation Empowerment as an Aide to South Africa’s Wealth Creation…”

vive le petit comerce

Empowerment in an era of transformation in a South African context was when we first encountered the term Black Economic Empowerment, which although was intended to redress imbalances made by the previous government in exclusion of a large representation of the country’s population from economic activities. The unintended consequences were that only a handful of people were empowered and the majority remained side-lined.

The topic speaks of empowerment beyond transformation; my understanding of it is the sustainable empowerment of South Africans where we look to creating more than just transactional relationships with our customers or clients (which for the purpose of this topic I will use interchangeably). A typical example of this is the issue of responding to tenders as a business.

The concept of tendering of course is not wrong; however there are other ways of developing business such as prospecting. I believe it is very important that small businesses understand the different levels of the relationship continuum so they can manage these relationships better. For instance you need to nurture your relationships with clients and manage them closely where annually you would look to progressively grow an existing account from transactional to collaborative and eventually to an alliance. This will require a lot of time from you as the entrepreneur who by assumption is the sole employee in the business. You’d need to consider training someone else to take on some of your less urgent responsibilities as your business grows.

No company arrives at the top alone. I support this statement; each company relies on a network of business relationships in order to succeed. According to the South African Supplier Diversity Council, where small businesses have an advantage over their larger counterparts is on their ability to make their operations flexible. They also state that a healthy supply chain needs to include and develop small businesses; entities that help it react to changing market conditions.

The theme then speaks to the concept of wealth creation. By extension it implies that one is keen on making their business built to last.

Let’s look at B-BBEE and transformation. I am not a practitioner on the subject however; my reasonable working knowledge on the subject is what I will share.

In a recent B-BBEE booklet by Werksmans Attorneys, it is noted that important amendments have been proposed to the B-BBEE Act and Codes. These amendments are a powerful expression of the Government’s intention to promote and implement B-BBEE. In my understanding this is more so particularly where small enterprises are concerned. The government is looking to give companies considered EMEs (exempt micro enterprises) and QSE (qualifying small enterprises) opportunities to get into the supply chains of bigger businesses therefore growing them into big business via skills development and of course supplier development initiatives under the preferential procurement act. SME is a label that denotes a phase that your company is in and by extension implies that it will move to the next phase of development. I would urge you to get a copy of this booklet by Werksmans, because I know that corporates don’t always have SMEs in their databases so they are looking especially now with the development of SMEs as one of their priority areas where B-BBEE is concerned. It makes it even better when you are prospecting, now you can call Mr Procter and Gamble for instance and ask to find out what opportunities exist for your company as far as their supplier and enterprise development is concerned.

The next part of my topic is on wealth creation. In a book called Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, the authors investigate what it is that has made “visionary” companies such as Ford, Johnson & Johnson and Procter and Gamble outlast their competitors? All of these companies were established before the 1950s. All of them outlived the Second World War and the depression and have seen several stock market crashes. These companies have lived to see the fall of the Soviet Union and the other side of the dot.com bug not to mention the abolishment of Apartheid and many an African nation’s independence.

Robert Kiyosaki put it aptly in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad when he said “the rich have lots of money but the wealthy don’t worry about money.” He went on to explain the difference between wealth and riches. He stated that the definition of wealth is the number of days you can survive without physically working (or anyone in your household physically working) and still maintain your standard of living.

“Wealth”, he said,” is measured in time.”

In order for you to begin turning your small business into these wealthy giants that I mentioned earlier here are a few lessons that you need to consider;

  1. It doesn’t always take a great idea to start a great company. When you’re starting out, it takes a while for your business to start, you may change your vision of it several times and that’s okay. Remember it’s meant to evolve. The more time you spend fine tuning it the better in the long run and even then it will continue to grow.
  2. The leaders of the business are pace setters. The leaders should fit into the company and not the company fitting into the leader particularly where values are concerned. Consider that you’re building a company that will outlive its leaders. And on the subject of leaders, it’s important to note that the culture and values are determined by the leader, in spite of whatever you may say your values are on paper. Those who work with you are not blind after all and they will do what you as their leaders do not necessarily what you say.
  3. Build the relationships first then the profits will come. It’s not an easy thing to hear when you’re struggling to make this work. However invest in your relationships. Many small businesses are out there doing half-hearted jobs and chasing the next big pay cheque at the expense of their reputations and at the risk of losing out on repeat business.
  4. Innovate; the book Built to last says the only constant is change. The authors state that a visionary company almost religiously preserves its core ideology – changing it seldom if ever. Yet while keeping their core ideologies tightly fixed, visionary companies display a powerful drive for progress that enables them to change and adapt without compromising their cherished core ideals.
  5. The focus on beating the competition: competitors don’t sit at our boardrooms with us or in our strategic planning meetings yet we put so much focus on them. Beating the competitor should be as result of continuous improvement. Always ask yourself “How can we improve ourselves to do better tomorrow than we did today?” I call it showing up differently.
  6. Become a clock builder instead of a time teller. An organisation with a strong cult – like culture that transcends dependence on the original visionary founders. Employees will need a motive, in the book reference is made to the conflict in Israel stating that “Unlike most nations, Israelis actually have an enduring purpose that is known by every Israeli and that is to provide a secure place on Earth for the Jewish people.”

 

 

Live by design

My fascination with entrepreneurship began when I was a little girl. My dad ran his own businesses, mainly retail. He had spaza shops (small convenience stores in the township) and supermarkets. He sold clothes from the boot of his car and at some point had taxis.

I used to be that child in the store helping at the till, then in the late afternoons I’d count the daily takings and go with him to deposit them at the bank.

In school, I sold cake slices, then samosas, then fat cakes with mince in winter. As a young adult I made and sold T-shirts for a while then together with a friend started a women’s network.

What I’m getting at is, this entrepreneurship thing is mystical at times yet it appears so many of us are curious about it and earnestly want to pursue it. Wouldn’t it be better if from primary school, children were taught how to become entrepreneurs? Imagine the mind shift in our society.

Timothy Ferris a serial entrepreneur and author of the 4hour work week, states in his book that there is a new subculture of people in the world who have figured out that the 9-5 grindstone doesn’t really fire up their imaginations to any great degree. Instead, he says, they organize their lives and follow a set of uncommon rules which typically allow them to work less than four hours a week but earn more in a month than most people do in a year.

This is incredible! I’m certain many would immediately redirect the course of their lives if they knew better. If we all could just tap into this new subculture.

In essence he’s supposing that one should live by design. Meaning we have been taught one model or structure of living and that is; going to school and then getting work thereafter. At work we work studiously and in time get a promotion. At the end of your tenure, you receive a ring or watch to thank you for the time that you have invested in company XYZ. Then you finally get to doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.

Living by design says don’t postpone the life you want to live, instead of living by default and constantly reacting to life. For me, entrepreneurship provides that opportunity.

According to Timothy Ferris the 10 basic rules of pursuing the lifestyle of this new subculture are:

1. Think of retirement as a worst-case scenario – and not the goal of your entire career. By all means plan for your retirement as a fall-back position but plan on living life to the full in the meantime.

2. Remember interest and energy are cyclical – so you should break periods of intense commercial activity with “mini-retirements” where you go off and recharge your batteries. Work only when you’ll be most effective, not when you’re jaded and washed out.

3. It’s not lazy to do less work – if you’re focusing on doing the most productive things. Find workable ways to spend less time in the office but actually achieve more. Focus more effort on being productive and less on being busy.

4. The timing is never right to quit your job and start working for yourself – so plunge into it now rather than waiting until the planets are aligned. Replace “someday” with “today”.

5. It’s always much more fun to ask for forgiveness rather than asking for permission – so plunge into things with enthusiasm. Get good at being a troublemaker but be prepared to say sorry if you really screw things up.

6. Find ways to emphasize your strengths – rather than trying to fix your weaknesses. Focus on using your best tools wisely rather than attempting to repair what doesn’t work.

7. Remember it’s possible to have too much of a good thing – so plan on using your free time wisely rather than sitting around and doing nothing. Do what you want to do as opposed to doing what you feel obligated to do.

8. Remember money alone is rarely the solution – so never use it as a scapegoat. Instead of saying “I’d do that if I had more money”, create a life of enjoyment right now. Pursuing more and more money just for the sake of having more becomes a pointless illusion at some stage. Live the life you want.

9. Learn how to differentiate between “absolute” and “relative” income – and focus on making more money for each hour you choose to work. Absolute income is the number of dollars involved. Relative income combines how much you earn with how long it takes you to earn that money. As long as you have enough absolute income to cover your expenses, always think in terms of increasing your relative income. The only way to achieve that is to make more for each hour you choose to work rather than working more hours.

10. Take advantage of “positive stress” or eustress – the kind of stress which acts as a stimulus for worthwhile growth. While negative stress can be destructive and cause health problems, positive stress to realize your dreams can be helpful and beneficial. Since you won’t make progress without it, the more eustress you create, the better. One way to do this is to focus on emulating role models who epitomize what you’re trying to achieve yourself.

Go out there and live the life that’s enjoyable to you and that moves you to action at every moment.

My panel discussion at the My world Global Tour – United Nations Development Program: Global Youth Advocates

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

As we sit here today we can admit to having encountered at least one of the following;
– Potholes
– Non functional traffic lights
– Shacks, informal settles
– Beggars on the side of the road
– Request for a bribe by the police
– Frustration at home affairs or the traffic department

In 2014, South Africa is sitting with problems such as;
– Children falling in laterines
– Public figures facing multiple charges of corruption and still holding office, a position of trust
– Families burnt in shacks
– CEOs of governmental companies with bogus qualifications
– And a R240m house built using state funds where it could have built a school.

For the post2015 United Nations development goals, I recommend that good governance in public administration and the use of entrepreneurship as a solution to solving socio-economic problems be considered as development goals.

With regard to good governance in public administration, it is important that I begin by indicating that ruling is not necessarily governance. And we need to educate those who rule of what good governance actually means.

In a public administration setting, governance is concerned with the responsible, transparent and efficient use of scarce resources by public officers. If this one thing is done then a child will not die due to the lack of medication at a public hospital or sit without a text book at a school. It was the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan who noted that good governance is the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development. The governance agenda in my understanding, seeks to address the imbalances caused by improper use of state resources which by the way are funded by people such as yourselves.

With instruments such as the king 3 report and public finance management act we still see the gross misuse of scarce resources particularly by those entrusted to govern over them. These are codes which must be respected and observed. Then we would not see roads untarred, hospitals with inadequate medicines, and schools where children sit for final exams without textbooks.

In going about ensuring good governance practices are adhered to, we could track the number of well functioning schools built, the level of efficiency at public hospitals and government departments, the number of public leaders who are dismissed due to improper and corrupt practices. And lastly, we need an account of the quality of governance decisions about the distribution of resources such as funding to be provided annually.

My next recommendation is the use of entrepreneurship in solving socio-economic challenges. This is Entrepreneurship in its broad sense and included in here is definitely social entrepreneurship as it is precisely focused on social impact. In short as a development goal, entrepreneurship looks to breaking the shackles of a welfare mentality as we have a society heavily reliant on social services.

Entrepreneurship is crucial for development. With an ever rising unemployment figure, the public and private sectors can no longer absorb as many unemployed youth as they used to. Entrepreneurs, I mean start-ups in particular create opportunities for the unemployed, they offer them skills, they bring those considered to be marginalised into the main streams of the economy. The bigger outcome however, is the developing of new markets and reviving of otherwise economically inactive communities.

As a development goal, public institutions need to do more to enable and build the country’s entrepreneurial base this includes business incubation, creation of sustainable businesses, access to finance, as well as facilitating the partnering with local big business to formulate global value chains which broaden the reach of small businesses taking them to the next phase of their development.

To realise the ideal of a better life for all South Africans , the entrepreneurial energies of all our people should be harnessed to ensure that the country’s full potential for economic growth is unleashed. Entrepreneurship makes a significant contribution in this regard and we need to constantly address red tape that seeks to strangle the efforts of entrepreneurs.

The benefits of the development goals which i am proposing are
– An increased standard of living for all South Africans
– An increased ability for South Africa to compete globally
-The creation of our own pioneers such as Mark Shuttleworth, Larry Pages and Steve Jobs
– Children who can spell, originate thought and build a better South Africa not from scraps of a broken one but from a stable, vibrant competitive one.

In the end, we inherit this land from our forebears so it is up to us to ensure that we get a country that encourages entrepreneurship and good governance.

Thank you

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Addressing Africa’s Socio-Economic Challenges Through Entrepreneurship

June marked the Youth Month in South Africa. During this time there were various public and private interventions to highlight challenges faced by young people as well as various outreach and support programs in aid of this.

Various accords were formed in the past looking particularly at the youth, of importance are;

  • Youth Accord which is a commitment to create 5 million new jobs by 2020.
  • Education Accord which sets out a framework for partnership to strengthen the performance of the nation’s schools which impacts directly on the ability of young people’s employability.
  • National skills accord, which seeks to equip school leavers with skills.
  • Local procurement accord supporting the efforts to re-industrialise South Africa and increase employment opportunities.

South Africa in particular and Africa in a general are faced with varied challenges such as vast youth unemployment, poverty, and poor levels of education to name a few.

Entrepreneurship as an intervention to these challenges is an opportunity for young people to work for themselves as well as create opportunities for other young people who are unemployed thus up-skilling them and providing means for them to feed their families and contribute economically to the country. This is also an opportunity to bring those considered to be marginalised into the mainstreams of the economy. The bigger outcome however, is the developing of new markets and reviving of otherwise dormant economies.

As a starting point we need to enhance our own skills and capabilities and further grow our intellectual capital by understanding what the issues really are. After all, entrepreneurship is the ability to identify challenges and address them through a product or service.

As young people in South Africa we need to expand our thinking by realising that these issues are not just ours alone. It is by collaborating with other young people in the rest of our continent that we begin to find smarter solutions to these problems. It’s not just a wonderful South Africa that we strive for, but an Africa that is free from poverty and inequality for us all, because “when it rains it does not rain on just one man’s house”.

Social issues tend to be universal in nature, and as we look at the face of the young people in South Africa, you’ll see that they are from other parts of Africa too such as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Uganda and the like. By this fact alone we need to work from common ground which is that we want a better Africa. There is a lot we can do together, far more than what we do when our efforts are isolated.

In Gauteng alone, women have a higher life expectancy than men yet in the same vein young women between the ages of 15 and 34 have a higher unemployment rate. In west and east Africa even north and central Africa young women experience a similar challenge. Women’s as the bearers of life and guardians of children are impacted the most such as when there is no clean drinking water women are the ones who need to walk for miles to find a water pump..

What is important to note is young people are not just leaders of the future; we are leading right now. We have the power and voice to speak up. We are inheriting this world and its problems from those who came before us. In order for the future to be bright, we need to ensure that we bring others along with us and to begin with, let us advocate on better living conditions for all and the “scrapping” of the red tape around starting a business.

I truly believe we can solve Africa’s socio-economic challenges through entrepreneurship and there is already a small movement towards this through initiatives such as the Hook-Up Dinner for one and many other “movements” which create platforms for start-ups to form communities of practice.

Africa’s problems truly can be solved through entrepreneurship. At face value this appears to be a sweeping statement but let’s consider that the public and private sectors are no longer able to absorb as many of us into formal employment as they used to. Those who can are start – ups. Start-ups are innovators; they have new solutions to our problems and are using their businesses as a means to solve them. They have the capacity to hire young people and that is why the government through various instruments namely youth set asides, is looking to provide opportunities to youth owned start-ups. So let us advocate for the doing away of processes that strangle the growth of this sector.

We need to engage embassies, and organisations such as the African development bank, requesting that they help us identify the gaps, ask them to help us figure out where to play.

Just a few facts around intra Africa trade; almost 90% of South Africa’s exports to the rest of Africa go to the SADC economies. In 2011, South Africa’s trade with the rest of Africa exceeded R220 billion (approx. USD30bn) which amounted to 17% of SA’s total trade with the world. This amounted to a R40bn trade surplus for South Africa compared to a R68bn deficit with Asia. South African exports to the rest of Africa are predominantly of value-added goods. The country’s investment stock in Africa has increased from R14.7 billion in 2001 to R121 billion in 2010, amounting to 21% of its total outward Foreign Direct Investment.

Imagine just for a moment the statistics if we had more entrepreneurs.

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Stickers under my shoes…

Feedback is the breakfast food of champions.

 
Most people I know speak of how they require feedback and they always say “be very honest with me”. The rest of the people I know absolutely luuurve to give feedback, solicited or otherwise. I am also mindful that feedback is all about delivery both on the requesting and receiving side that makes all the difference. When one asks that you provide feedback it’s important to be mindful that at that moment they are placing their vulnerability at your feet and you should handle it with absolute responsible caution.

 
I am afraid to say that I was once given feedback and firstly didn’t realize what it was and not to mention secondly that I could not respond by way of acceptance.

 
One Friday afternoon while I sat in a group at the canteen for lunch one of my colleagues planted her jolly self beside me and proceeded to inform me that I had stickers under my shoes and they were showing.

 
Now being a black woman you must understand that I’ve become accustomed to having people at work in particular comment about my clothes, whether it be snide patronizing remarks which presuppose that my role in whatever team is purely ornamental. I’ve heard it all; I must admit that I have a bit of a chip on shoulder about it and swiftly “deal” with the perpetrators – I don’t suffer fools in this matter, well at least the old, under developed me didn’t.

 
I turned and looked at her flustered and said, “Well thanks but I already know, in fact I don’t understand what it is with everyone and their comments on my shoes” snootily. Being the person she is, she retorted stating that sometimes I should learn to just take the feedback, process it then respond because as you know there is a difference between reacting and responding.

 
This weighed heavily on my mind. On my trip to the ladies, I took a moment to look under my shoes to ascertain, in the privacy of my own cubicle (with what little bit of pride I had left) if my shoes really looked strange with the stickers on and what all the fuss was about. Besides, I liked the stickers, I’m aware of their presence and they are a measure of how well I’ve kept this pair of shoes.
Alas! I decided to take the stickers off and get the “haters” off my back.

 

 

A few weeks later, I wore the same pair of shoes and went into her office for a quick chat (because it’s important to gain social capital in the workplace). We discussed the stickers and she explained to me how much better, by better she said “less comical” I look without them attached to the soles of my shoes.

 

 

From that day I realized that I never want to go through my whole life with stickers under my shoes looking comical. This was symbolic of not just the actual stickers but of feedback in general. It was a silly thing to make such a big deal of it to begin with but from that day I decided that I’ll accept feedback when it’s given, even when it’s hard to hear or doesn’t make sense to me.

 
I also recently learnt about the “ouch moment”. This is a moment when you feel discomfort either in conversation or during a lecture, it’s usually a signal that this is information you need to learn or at least internalize for a moment and reflect upon. I find this gives power as our words have the ability to build or destroy and in responding one should consider the ecology. That is, the environment and relations between you and others around you and before you begin to respond or defend. Ask yourself, am I going to leave this person better off or worse off? Another point to consider is that things that challenge people normally present a change on either of 3 levers; sense of identity, their skills and sense of purpose.

 
In closing, Dr Meshack Khosa, the founder and CEO of Fresh Thinking Holdings has taught me about only focusing on the positive and rewarding the behavior that which you want to see. In a situation where you’re providing feedback to your team, remember this yet never shy away from the facts and keep it objective.

 

 

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One day it will all make sense

You will understand that it’s not what he says but what he does that matters most.
It will matter more what his thoughts are and how he arrives to them if you are one day to submit to him.
You will spend more time understanding how how he sees himself as it’s only one who sees himself as a God among Gods that will see you as a Queen.
You will accept that although you would at some point have done anything for him that in fact he was never yours to have and with the grace of a grown woman you will walk away from that one who you thought of as the love of your life.

It will dawn on you that before he becomes a life partner to you, God needs to make a man of him first.
One day it will make sense why he broke your heart and then you will release him forever from the ties of your soul so true love can find you once and for all.

And you will see in true love’s eyes like you have never seen before.
And your hand will fit into his.
And his embrace will give you life.
For once before you so desperately needed to be held.

And everything will be okay at last
And you will mother his understanding.

And one day as the sun sets on your lives you will look back on when you were once young.
He will once again be that young man who melted your ice and you that girl that weakened his knees.

And throughout the seasons of your love it will always remain.
And when the curtain falls on your union you will go back to that place you once met and wait for that old friend.

And in your sleep his kiss will take you and forever you will be together as it was prophesied in the book of time.

The heart of leadership…part 1

Induction Breakfast with RJ Khoza

MC at Induction Breakfast

IMG_0054the heart of leadership

At some point in my life I decided that I wanted to become a leader, my heart swelled with pride in the thought of what this could really mean one day in the future.
I looked in the mirror and practiced my speech when I one day would stand in a crowd of people who looked up to me and admired me for my accomplishments and most of all they would want me to impart my lessons, from my heart, the heart of leadership.

With this in mind, over the years as I grew, I kept editing this speech in my mind with things that I learnt along the way. I have been receiving an immense amount of practise and so you can imagine just how much I’ve re-written my speech in my head.

Today, I have decided to begin to share bits of what I have learnt along the way because you see, today for the first time it hit me, that leadership at its heart is really just looking back on all the people you’ve come across and being able to say that you have helped many of them reach inside themselves and bring out to the world their inner awesomeness. This is the place where infinite intelligence dwells for each and every one of us.
At least this was in my heart this morning when my dear friend resigned from his role under my leadership in the YP (Young Professionals) PEC (Provincial Executive Committee). It moved me to think that in everything that has happened during his tenure on the team I truly hoped that he felt he was a better person now than he was when he came in and that I had played some small role in him finding his inner awesomeness.

In the year that has passed as the deputy chairperson of the Black Management Forum’s Young Professionals of the province, I have listened in on talks by great men and women, all of them speaking to the heart of leadership.

As leaders we judge ourselves by our intentions and we always hope that in every decision we make we have the right people around us who will caution us when we are too rash and ground us when our ego takes over. There are many times when our character is questioned as in Joseph Badaracco’s book Questions of Character. Leadership it seems, is not really about just knowing the difference between right and wrong. No, it’s about the strength of one’s character and the ability to discern between more subtle matters such as what’s right for me personally and more right for the team. The topic of governance comes to mind.

Governance is a word derived from a Greek verb meaning “to steer” and it was used for the first time in a metaphorical sense by the Greek philosopher, Plato. The heart of leadership is in a sense, the ability to master one’s self or self-governance so to speak. Dr John Demartini, an expert public speaker on human behaviour, researcher, bestselling author and international educator states that self-governance is having great clarity of direction and strategy, being unwavering in action and being mentally and emotionally stable and centred upon the great and inspiring mission of service.

There have been many lessons that I have had the opportunity of sitting in on, with people I consider great men and women having dedicated their time to share these lessons and I feel it is only fitting that I in turn share with others what they have held in their hearts on their journey in leadership.

Dr R.J Khoza, joined us one morning for an induction breakfast and his lessons have been on leadership of the 21st century. In order for one to stand up and assume a position of leadership he stated, one has to ensure that they are of a manner that is beyond reproach, probity is the word that he used.

On advice to young leaders, Dr Khoza advised that as young people who are not only leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today too, we need to be au fait with dealing with complexity. The world is becoming more complex and in order to lead in that world, leadership needs to deal with complexity this in business comes in bottom of the pyramid strategies, environmental awareness and proper governance procedures. Among other issues he suggests that we;
• Understand how politics affects the economics of those whom you lead
• Behave ethically
• Be imbued with humanity.

For me, this meant show those you lead that you actually care about them, find out how they are. Look them in the eye and for people to really respect you; don’t interrupt them when they talk as this affects the quality of their thinking as well as their ability to contribute meaningfully. Lastly hear them out, consider their views and answer from a place of sincerity.

• Be a person of vision and be able to articulate your vision well
• Be attuned, understand yourself well

What stood out to me, is that if you find you are truly not yet ready to lead, follow actively and continue to build yourself as a leader. It is through doing things such as running projects, volunteering your time on committees, being accountable and getting coaching and or mentorship etc. that your skill as a leader is built.

The heart of leadership is one of “servantship”. It is Mr Bonang Mohale, the president of the BMF who always reminds us to lead with the heart of a servant. In my journey (and I still am on that journey if you are wondering), this is not throwing yourself into the service of others slavishly but it is about understanding that you cannot lead alone. There needs to be a constituency and as a result, humble yourself for the most part and be responsible. It stops being about you, well at least from an African leadership perspective. It’s about those who you represent.

On that point, this is not an excuse to be stuck in an information paralysis, where we see many leaders being stuck and as a result they do not make decisions while many suffer because they are unable to decide. Vision without execution is hallucination as my friend Ntuthuko Dlame always says.

Decide, and never leave a meeting without having reached a decision. Always choose to decide.

There will be decisions that you make as a leader that are unpopular, many leaders will tell you about those, to mitigate their frequency surround yourself with elders that you respect and who you can learn from and make them your advisory committee. Someone who mentored me, Mr Mafuna of the African Leadership Group will tell you that life and leadership in particular, is about managing the paradox. You need to balance carefully the ego and the position as the same people who praise you today, in one moment will want you out, look at Julius Caesar.

People need leadership, yet it’s harder to lead educated people as they will challenge you at every moment, but don’t undermine less educated people as they have wisdom. Leadership inspires people to act.

Mrs Cecilia Khuzwayo spent a morning with us and she spoke to matters young people striving to make their way up the corporate ladder should pay attention to.

• Hire the best, if you can’t, make sure that you can capacitate those you have. This frees you to grow.
• Understand your values and if you find yourself in a place that no longer is aligned with your highest values, consider leaving as it will no longer be conducive to your success.
• Consider how you will measure yourself at the end of your life, would you have made the impact that you would have wanted to make given what you are doing today?
• What is your purpose in life, that one thing that you want to be a monument to your life when you are gone?
• Make time for yourself, not at the hair salon (ladies), or the gym (gents). But make time to reflect on your life. Are you happy with what you are doing now?

Leadership is defined as many things, we can all agree too that the word leadership is a noun stemming from the verb “to lead” and that by definition, a verb is a doing word. Many people are fooled by their titles and believe they can lead by remote control or that by virtue of sitting in a particular seat, they are leading. I am yet to see this type of leadership being beneficial on anyone or even being effective.

As our term in office comes to an end, I have started to consciously collect lessons and quotes which will go into a book that I hope to write one day soon on my lessons learnt.

I have found that although in leadership one is surrounded by many, it is a lonely journey that is quite personal and depending on who you are and your context, it has many nuances.

I have learnt that in order to lead, I need to read a lot about many things and have a broad view of life yet when it comes to the crux of the matter, I need to consult my heart.

I have learnt that it’s not so much the books that I read that give me wisdom but rather what I think about what I have read and how that frames my understanding of the world.

I have found in my heart there are many desires, and many intentions, that I am judged by my actions although I evaluate myself on my intentions. So I’ve decided to rather be congruent and show my intentions through my actions.

I have found that leadership is that thing inside every man if he cares to wake up to the truth of who he really is and stop being what others tell him to become.

I have spent many a Friday night preparing for a speech for the next day, and have cancelled on many invites because I had a Young Professionals function to attend. At no point did I do this begrudgingly. This taught me commitment.

The heart of leadership is one that continues to change and grow as one comes into contact with varied people. Those people for me have taught me so many lessons and I am forever grateful for making their acquaintance and that they had made the time to teach me as I carry these lessons on forever.