SA’s leaders must come to the party

South Africa’s business future is squarely in the hands of the institutional leaders, and if they do not embrace the concepts of leading with empathy, inspiration, trust, team work, communication and understanding, then the country is in for a very rough financial ride. Picture: SUPPLIED

SA’s business future is squarely in the hands of the institutional leaders, yet if they do not embrace the concepts of leading with empathy, inspiration, trust, teamwork, communication and understanding, then the country is in for a very rough financial ride.

So says Anton van der Walt, an internationally renowned human resources (HR) guru, mentor, speaker and author, who recently launched his second book, The Transformational Leader, and with it a training programme.

Van der Walt, a South African now living in Australia, focuses on global leadership development and change management in a rapidly evolving environment. He works with multi-national management teams.

The book is based on leaders accepting the model of ‘know self to lead self, to lead the team, to lead the business and lead industry’, and this could not be more relevant anywhere than SA today.

He said if structures do not become flatter, provide greater autonomy and become more agile and innovative, then companies will be doomed. “It rests on the ability of leaders to adapt to a technology future and to ‘stop sitting on the technology fence – to get involved and invested’. This is critical.”

Van der Walt said he briefly left the corporate world.

“A stint in the challenging world of entrepreneurs assisted me in empathising with the leaders at the coalface.”

It is hard multitasking by delivering financial results to shareholders, balancing the demands of employees and unions, driving innovation to keep ahead of disruption and contribute to the increasing social wage requirements.

Van der Walt’s methods are backed by a commerce degree, with honours in psychology from the University of Pretoria. He has published two books – Leadership Through My Lens and The Transformational Leader, along with several papers and articles.

He said the concept of how people work with people is the driving force behind much of his thinking and teaching, coupled with inspiring people and guiding business leaders to best develop themselves, their teams and the business.

Van der Walt said he has discovered in his working with leaders that the common thread was that great leaders were truly passionate about what they do.

“This passion brings out the best in those they lead.”

From the positive reaction to, and the results from Transformation, he developed a training programme that focuses on the need for change, which he said was timeous for the challenges faced by leaders in SA.

“There are the dilemmas for leaders.

“It is hard multitasking by delivering financial results to shareholders, balancing the demands of employees and unions, driving innovation to keep ahead of disruption and contribute to the increasing social wage requirements.

“Collaboration, co-design, client-centricity and culture-driven organisations mean that leaders need to possess and develop very specific competencies if they are to achieve sustained success.

“I think a management style that is curious, innovative, agile and engaging is the future – for obvious reasons. The key is the ability to not only use the words in our management-speak, but also to be able to act in a fashion that enhances the words.”

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