Tragedy has a way of getting people united. During the middle of quarter 1, 2015, the Cape Peninsula was gripped by extensive wild fires. Like dominos, it started initially on a part of Table Mountain range, then Lion’s Head and one part of the mountain range followed after another until the whole area was just thick in smoke.
During this time, my family lived in an area that epitomised Cape Town: just below the Silvermine mountain range but almost on the beach. In our street, we had organized ourselves exactly as we did back in the township in the early 90’s. We patrolled the street and monitored all movement with constant by the minute communication using instant messaging mobile apps. Nothing passed through our street without our knowledge and our leader (more like street commander), James would go as far as tell us Chapman’s open for traffic – which made sense given the level of closures during that period. It was this level of organization that made me personally experience a different side of Cape people and in the process left me grateful to live among this lot on that little street on the southern tip of the African continent.
When the fire finally reached our neck of the woods, it had been going for about three weeks. As such, nothing was shocking anymore. By this time, we also received news of two houses that were burnt to the ground (no lives lost). One of these houses was a few streets away from our house and therefore as the young people like to say, “it got real”. The whole neighborhood was on high alert. I’m talking day and night with constant news feed on where the fire is, incidents (big or small) and do’s and don’t ‘s from the street patrol team.
Two days before @bpesa’s Annual BPM Summit (#BPO2SA), our neighbour Gerry frantically rang the bell at our gate at 1h15 in the morning. I casually walked to the intercom and answered (almost half asleep) wondering who it could be that time of the night. “I saw your lights are off and you are not responding on WhatsApp group, so I was wondering if you are almost done to vacate? Everyone is gone and I was just getting my dogs”. I know what you are thinking, right? My thoughts exactly that early morning! It turns out, James (our street commander) had been mornitoring the fire the whole night and had been issuing instructions to all families in the street. The last one instruction, issued an hour earlier was “evacuate immediately. Take essentials and drive to the beach or the sports ground. Drive slowly as visibility is very poor.” In 15 minutes, we had worked out what we would let burn with house and what would fit into two cars on which we can survive until a plan is hashed out. A wake up call! Apparently my trusted top end imported stereo sound system is not as valuable as an external hard drive with my family pictures. Who knew!
Despite the drama of the Cape fires, we managed to pull off one of the most succeful industry Summits with a cross section of Business Process Management (BPM) encompassing public sector, private sector, domestic, international, operators, vendors, analysts and the media. It was here that I took the first public role as facilitating a panel talking capacity in terms skills pipeline to enable BPM to scale nationally.
Please see more here from the Summit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2iuSeP7Z20. From conversations had afterwards, the panelists had as much a great time as I had.
The following tweets capture the sense of how the market received the Summit globally.
When I was still engaged in corporates in a conventional sort of way, i would open the year with a nice wrap up of the previous year followed by a sense of what is coming in the current year and most importantly first Quarter. I always assumed every leader did this sort of thing though my experience has been some of the people i worked with/ worked for did not bother.
So, without letting out too much around my own views of the space i occupy now versus those days, i will attempt to do the same combining my official, personal, social activities and moments in between to review 2015 as well as what is to come in 2016. These will be shared over a series of posts themed #2015Reminiscence to thread the various moments together.
Enjoy as you share in my my journey.
There is a very close link between learning to lead and managing yourself and also developing your ability and skill in leading others. If you can demonstrate your effectiveness it gets very easy to demonstrate leadership which in turn allows others to follow you. If you look around at leaders who are failing in their responsibilities often you will see that they take on far too much work, inherit a poor performing people and do nothing about it and they end up achieving little for themselves or their people.
These leaders have no scope to change move or develop because they are constantly in a reactive mode and have limited their opportunity for learning. This robs them of the opportunity to learn by reviewing past experiences, mistakes and successes so that they can apply them to the current situation. Unfortunately, this is not always easily apparent to leaders within the organization. Sometimes, everybody is so busy that they don’t lift their head to see what is happening around them.
Businesses make different demands on leaders in different circumstances. The demands and the circumstances are constantly changing. This means that the modern leader has to be very nimble to cope with this constant change. It also means that the opportunities to misread the situation have increased in the modern day workplace. Because of the constant change, each situation has to be understood as much as possible so that relevant decisions can be made. It is very hard to be effective if you constantly misread situations when you are in a leadership position.
If we accept that the art of leading others is about them rather than us, therefore it follows that leadership also means we lose our right to be selfish. When we abandon our highest priority, we lose our way and people suffer. As such those of us that are entrusted with the custody of the leadership office need to always:
• Consider our actions and take care to avoid contradiction with the vision we champion
• That we work smart to ensure results in key areas of business
• Spend funds wisely and in areas that bring the best return
• Always feel dissatisfied in our production and thereby constantly challenge ourselves to do better
When leaders and people fail to maintain proper priorities, disappointment always results. Remember the paretto principle which says 80% of all output come from 20% of input. With the right priorities, 20% of our efforts will get 80% of the desired results. But with the wrong priorities, 80% of our effort will get 20% of the desired results. Priorities in leading people is not about working harder, but smarter.