Leadership Crisis in Corporate South Africa

“We need leaders who add value to the people and the organization they lead; who work for the benefit of others and not just for their own personal gain. Leaders who inspire and motivate, not intimidate and manipulate; who live with people to know their problems in order to solve them and who follow a moral compass that points in the right directions regardless of the trends.”

I recently attended a conference that dared to answer and unpack the topic of whether Corporate South Africa is going through a leadership crisis.

CRISIS Catastrophe – Mess – Disaster

A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty

The turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death

The topic intrigued me and made me cringe at the same time as I have been pondering on Leadership or the lack of leadership in general, in the corporate space. I have seen and I have experienced broken leadership. Leadership that leads from a place of fear and insecurity. Leadership that tears down and doesn’t know how to build. Leadership that seeks to shine  but fails to own up and take accountability for the mistakes and failures made along the way. Leadership that is yet to learn how to empower it workforce. Leadership that struggles to lead with bravery, have the difficult conversations without taking things personally.

Should we even be calling this leadership?

Yes. This is leadership. Leadership that is yet to grow and move with authenticity,  courage, conviction and a sincere passion for the growth and development of people. Leadership that needs to be cultivated. Leadership that is its infant stages. Leadership that needs to evolve with time and experience. Leadership that needs to be given a second, thirds and fourth chance. Leadership that needs to be guided. Pruned. Believed in.

With that being said, there are of course individuals who are far from being leaders. Individuals who only know how to manage and get the workforce to deliver. So maybe what we are going through is a transition crisis from management to leadership. A crisis given birth to by the high expectation that everyone in a position of power is a leader. A crisis that stems from the inability to recognise the leaders without  title. A crisis rooted in hierarchical norms.

I believe that leadership in Corporate South Africa is going through a steep learning curve. And as with every learning curve, there are going to be some hard lessons along the way. Sadly so, most of those lessons, hitting individuals.  If you find yourself at the frontlines of crappy, immature, sometime draining and unclear leadership…sorry. I hope you are able to build the stamina and resilience needed to withstand what may feel like the hard punches of being part of someone else’s growth journey.

What I know for sure is that there are legends who have been in the game and have steered the ship through the roughest storms. There is a generation of young men and women who are holding the fort, learning from those who have walked the path,  redefining the status quo, transforming the landscape. 

I dare say that Corporate South Africa is going through a steep growth curve. Right now it feels like a mess. It probably is a mess but it is all part of the process.

GROWTH – Widening.  Change. Sprouting.

Progressive increase. A stage or condition of developing and maturing.


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