What Does Leadership Mean?
What does leadership mean to you?
In today's world, this question is becoming increasingly important. We’re confronted by challenges that we’re not used to. Our challenges are no longer about plague, famine or war. The world we’re living in is becoming more diverse, more noisy, more automated, more stressful, more competitive, more interconnected and less private.
Do you consider yourself a leader in this new world?
Were you the girl or guy that was chosen to lead sports teams when you were a kid? Do people gravitate towards your natural leadership qualities? Or, do you feel the compulsion to dominate your peers and colleagues?
To many people, leadership means power.
It means strength over weakness.
Last week, I interviewed Clinical Psychologist Marc Rogatschnig in our new Discovery / CliffCentral podcast series called 'The Healthy Business Show', in which I'm the host (what the heck you mean you haven't heard it yet what the hell are you even doing reading this go immediately and check it out here right now). Marc spoke about the fact that the work-force no longer responds to 'command and demand' and that we've evolved into an exciting new cultural norm - a new way of working.
In 2017, Malcolm Gladwell delivered a Masterclass in Johannesburg where he spoke about how we're moving from a strong-link society to a weak-link society. Gladwell compared basketball, where someone like Jordan, James or Curry can dominate an entire league and win championships, to soccer, where teams like Bayern Munich or Barcelona would pass the ball 50 times before scoring a goal - requiring every single member of the team to participate.
This means that as leaders, we need to pay attention to the 'weak link', not only the strong links, the superstars. We need to ensure that every member of the team is looked after. If someone in your team is struggling, then you as a leader have to uplift, to empower - this is what it means to truly lead.
As leaders, we need to have to have empathy, to have compassion. Imagine saying this to a leader in the 80s? How would the barbarians at the gates respond to this airy-fairy stuff? WWGGD?
Our next Heavy Chef learning experience, in Johannesburg on the 18th June, will be Colin Hall. His Masterclass focuses on Leadership, and fittingly Colin talks about how he shifted from a strong-link style of leadership to the weak-link style of leadership. In the Masterclass, Colin will be sharing 6 leadership lessons that he's picked up over 60 years as CEO of two of SA's most iconic companies Woolworths and SAB. Colin has presided over organisations with 50,000 people taking instructions from him, yet the most important lesson he learned was delivered to him by his son Steve, when Steve was still a child. (You'll have to attend the masterclass to hear the full story, Steve will be there too!)
When I heard that story, it moved me to tears. Colin is a big bear of a man, but he was able to teach me why the power-mongering Trump-style of leadership is not sustainable in today's world.
Frankly, we need to move towards values-driven leadership.
Yesterday, I went for a long morning walk on Sea Point Promenade with the amazing Dave Duarte, a leader in his own right. He mentioned to me that 'values' really count when they are uncomfortable. What Dave means is that values are often counter-intuitive to normal human behaviour.
We'd rather take the marshmallow now than wait.
Values, on the other hand, means truly looking after the people in your organisation. It means delaying gratification. It means acting with integrity, truth, empathy and understanding.
Over the next 12 months, at Heavy Chef, we're going to be hosting leaders in technology and creativity on the Heavy Chef stage - leaders from local and international organisations - and I'm truly excited to begin to share them with you, starting this month.
If you’re interested, please do subscribe to our newsletter (here), and in the meantime, as yourself this question:
What does leadership mean to you?