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On integrity

Integrity, a subject that many of us easily talk about but often used to hide our real selves. I will use excerpts from an article I recently read around the subject.

Corporate Integrity: It Starts at the Top

I heard of a story about a gentleman who used to be affiliated with a construction company whose owner ordered the workers to cut corners in every way possible without getting caught.  Some foremen were even chastised for taking extra care to do a good job.  Did this philosophy work?  No.  The company did make money, but the employees who took pride in their work went elsewhere, leaving a workforce who simply was not trustworthy and a company which had a shady reputation.

When a new owner set a policy of always doing things right, the company slowly began to grow.  Those who continued to cut corners were dismissed and a new vitality began to emerge as the employees felt good about themselves; they began to love their jobs and became proud of who they worked for.  Guess what?  This company continues to flourish today.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Individual Integrity: We Are All Accountable

Writer and speaker Nicky Gumble punctuates this truth in the following story:

A man named Gibbo used to work as a clerk for Selfridges.  One day the phone rang and Gibbo answered.  The caller asked to speak to Gordon Selfridge, who happened to be in the room at the time.  When Mr. Selfridge instructed Gibbo to tell the caller that he was out, Gibbo handed him the phone and said, ‘You tell him you’re out!’  Gordon Selfridge was absolutely furious, but Gibbo said to him, ‘Look, if I can lie for you, I can lie to you.  And I never will.’  That moment transformed Gibbo’s career at Selfridges – he became the owner’s most trusted employee.

Integrity, for Gibbo, was so deeply ingrained that he disobeyed his boss without hesitation.  Yes, he might have been fired, but I am guessing that Gibbo wouldn’t have wanted to continue working there anyway.  In this case, however, his integrity was instrumental to his ascent at Selfridges.

Why Integrity Works

 It is no surprise that employees with integrity shine.  They do not undermine their fellow workers, they work just as hard whether they are being watched or not, they can always be counted on to do their best, and they will be honest enough to admit it if they have made mistakes.  They won’t pass the blame, but they will share the credit.  They are an inspiration to others, creating a positive and upbeat work environment.

If you were in charge of hiring and networking, wouldn’t you dig beneath the surface of a potential employee’s resume to learn of their integrity?  Of course you would.  Therefore, if you are that employee, your services will be coveted, both when you are hired and for years thereafter.

How Are You Doing?

  • Do you leave work early when there is no possibility anyone else will find out?
  • Do you accept full responsibility (or your share) when things don’t go well?
  • Do you share the credit when things go right?
  • Do you confront wrongdoing, even if it means confronting a Team Leader/Manager?
  • Do you hide legitimate income to avoid paying taxes on it (such as not reporting cash payments)?
  • Do you claim tax deductions you can’t document?
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When purpose calls

When I left my job as a corporate executive, most people did not understand what I was trying to do. I remember calling my mentor, Mr Zweli Manyathi and spending 45 minutes with him on the phone with the whole conversation centered around the foolishness of the decision. The concern was mostly created by my own inability to explain what felt right but didn’t make sense.

I just jumped in head first purely based on the need to dedicate my life to social good. Of cause today the idea has evolved and we are referred to as social entrepreneurs.purpose

What exactly is that? Social entrepreneurship uses business techniques and private sector approaches to unearth solutions to social, cultural, or environmental problems. The idea may be applied to a variety of organizations with different sizes, aims, and beliefs. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs measure performance in profit, revenues and increases in share prices.

However, social entrepreneurs also take into account a positive “return to society” over and above conventional business performance approaches.
Purpose42Social entrepreneurship typically attempts to further broad social, cultural, and environmental goals often associated with the voluntarism (often confused with pure philanthropy). I have since met many social entrepreneurs (whether they call themselves such or not).

Meet my friend and comrade Dorothy (or as affectionately known, Dot) for instance, we have known each other for years. img_4733

As many people who know me will attest to, people who get me in terms of values and what I stand for generally and those who enjoy working with me tend to literally follow me. However, Dot does not work for me and neither is she involved in BPO, Education or the church. She has however involved in in creating opportunities for young South Africa. She just facilitated 5000 young people through a learnership between February and June, majority of whom are already gainfully employed with one of the large retail groups in South Africa. In my sector we call this Impact Sourcing and it makes global headlines.

Dot goes about her day like this is nothing. The morning, we met for a catchup, as we shared our favourite drink, Cafe Latte (we have shared this bad habit since we met long ago), she casually told me she is preparing for her second intake of 6000 plus young people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. That’s 6000 unemployed school leavers who would otherwise have not chance to join the formal economy and provide for their families.

So, why am I sharing this? I am sharing this precisely because when I meet friends and colleagues who share my passion for a better tomorrow for our nation, it validates the decision I took to jump out of the corporate rat race based on the feeling that it was right. I share it so i can say to my friend Zuki Mzozoyana of Young Entrepreneurs and #Uthemandithi (He said I should do/say…), it’s ok to not make sense to the world when you follow your calling. I am sharing this to encourage other people who want to make a difference in the lives of others through their vocational activities.

Thank you to all the roses busy growing on concrete. Those who know that poverty is not meant to permanently move from generation to generation on this the wealthiest continent on earth. The champions who get up and do something about what they see in our communities. While the world wonders about what can or can’t be done, we get young Africans into opportunities and change destiny for families, communities, countries and out continent. Thobela! Nda!

Forbes Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Having a great idea, and assembling a team to bring that concept to life is the first step in creating a successful business venture. While finding a new and unique idea is rare enough; the ability to successfully execute this idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. However you see yourself, whatever your age may be, as soon as you make that exciting first hire, you have taken the first steps in becoming a powerful leader. When money is tight, stress levels are high, and the visions of instant success don’t happen like you thought, it’s easy to let those emotions get to you, and thereby your team. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself of the leader you are and would like to become. Here are some key qualities that every good leader should possess, and learn to emphasize.

Honesty

Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

George Washington

As we do at Onevest, the crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses I co-founded, try to make a list of values and core beliefs that both you and your brand represent, and post this in your office. Promote a healthy interoffice lifestyle, and encourage your team to live up to these standards. By emphasizing these standards, and displaying them yourself, you will hopefully influence the office environment into a friendly and helpful workspace.

Ability to Delegate

Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the less you will produce.

The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most. Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

Communication

Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.

Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and will be less hesitant to work harder.

Sense of Humor

If your website crashes, you lose that major client, or your funding dries up, guiding your team through the process without panicking is as challenging as it is important. Morale is linked to productivity, and it’s your job as the team leader to instill a positive energy. That’s where your sense of humor will finally pay off. Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying. If you are constantly learning to find the humor in the struggles, your work environment will become a happy and healthy space, where your employees look forward to working in, rather than dreading it. Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity levels high and morale even higher.

PADSTOW, UNITED KINGDOM – APRIL 21: A small d…

At Onevest, we place a huge emphasis on humor and a light atmosphere. Our office is dog friendly, and we really believe it is the small, light hearted moments in the day that help keep our work creative and fresh. One tradition that we like to do and brings the team closer is we plan a fun prank on all new employees, on their first day. It breaks the ice and immediately creates that sense of familiarity.

Confidence

There may be days where the future of your brand is worrisome and things aren’t going according to plan. This is true with any business, large or small, and the most important thing is not to panic. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale. Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal. As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team feeling the same. Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that feeling. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.

Commitment

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. By proving your commitment to the brand and your role, you will not only earn the respect of your team, but will also instill that same hardworking energy among your staff. It’s important to show your commitment not only to the work at hand, but also to your promises. If you pledged to host a holiday party, or uphold summer Fridays, keep your word. You want to create a reputation for not just working hard, but also be known as a fair leader. Once you have gained the respect of your team, they are more likely to deliver the peak amount of quality work possible.
WATCH: Three Tips For Leaders Under 30
Positive Attitude

You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person. Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness.

English: Think positive

If your team is feeling happy and upbeat, chances are they won’t mind staying that extra hour to finish a report, or devoting their best work to the brand.

Creativity

Some decisions will not always be so clear-cut. You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance. By utilizing all possible options before making a rash decision, you can typically reach the end conclusion you were aiming for.

Intuition

When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in. Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance. Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.

Ability to Inspire
Creating a business often involves a bit of forecasting. Especially in the beginning stages of a startup, inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. Whether everyone owns a piece of equity, or you operate on a bonus system, generating enthusiasm for the hard work you are all putting in is so important. Being able to inspire your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also important for the current issues. When you are all mired deep in work, morale is low, and energy levels are fading, recognize that everyone needs a break now and then. Acknowledge the work that everyone has dedicated and commend the team on each of their efforts. It is your job to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.

Corporate Integrity: It Starts at the Top

I heard of a story about a gentleman who used to be affiliated with a construction company whose owner ordered the workers to cut corners in every way possible without getting caught. Some foremen were even chastised for taking extra care to do a good job. Did this philosophy work? No. The company did make money, but the employees who took pride in their work went elsewhere, leaving a workforce who simply was not trustworthy and a company which had a shady reputation.

When a new owner set a policy of always doing things right, the company slowly began to grow. Those who continued to cut corners were dismissed and a new vitality began to emerge as the employees felt good about themselves; they began to love their jobs and became proud of who they worked for. Guess what? This company continues to flourish today. Coincidence? I think not.

Individual Integrity: We Are All Accountable

Writer and speaker Nicky Gumble punctuates this truth in the following story:
A man named Gibbo used to work as a clerk for Selfridges. One day the phone rang and Gibbo answered. The caller asked to speak to Gordon Selfridge, who happened to be in the room at the time. When Mr. Selfridge instructed Gibbo to tell the caller that he was out, Gibbo handed him the phone and said, ‘You tell him you’re out!’ Gordon Selfridge was absolutely furious, but Gibbo said to him, ‘Look, if I can lie for you, I can lie to you. And I never will.’ That moment transformed Gibbo’s career at Selfridges – he became the owner’s most trusted employee.

Integrity, for Gibbo, was so deeply ingrained that he disobeyed his boss without hesitation. Yes, he might have been fired, but I am guessing that Gibbo wouldn’t have wanted to continue working there anyway. In this case, however, his integrity was instrumental to his ascent at Selfridges.

Why Integrity Works

It is no surprise that employees with integrity shine. They do not undermine their fellow workers, they work just as hard whether they are being watched or not, they can always be counted on to do their best, and they will be honest enough to admit it if they have made mistakes. They won’t pass the blame, but they will share the credit. They are an inspiration to others, creating a positive and upbeat work environment.
If you were in charge of hiring and networking, wouldn’t you dig beneath the surface of a potential employee’s resume to learn of their integrity? Of course you would. Therefore, if you are that employee, your services will be coveted, both when you are hired and for years thereafter.

How Are You Doing?
• Do you leave work early when there is no possibility anyone else will find out?
• Do you accept full responsibility (or your share) when things don’t go well?
• Do you share the credit when things go right?
• Do you confront wrongdoing, even if it means confronting a Team Leader/Manager?
• Do you hide legitimate income to avoid paying taxes on it (such as not reporting cash payments)?
• Do you claim tax deductions you can’t document?

Because we tend to be blind to our own shortcomings, I challenge you to ask a friend – one with integrity – to tell you honestly whether you are more like Gibbo or his boss.

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Leadership complexity

It all hangs on leadership

It all hangs on leadership

An amazing analogy of effective leadership is demonstrated in the Good to Great(Collins et al). It’s key to note that leadership is not about warm and fuzzy. In fact, it’s about strength of character in being able to stand for something while being able to guard yourself against arrogance that could be created by that same conviction.

According to Collins et al, there are five attributes that typify a true Leader:
They are self-confident enough to set up their successors for success.
They are humble and modest.
They have “unwavering resolve.”
They display a “workmanlike diligence – more plow horse than show horse.”
They give credit to others for their success and take full responsibility for poor results.
They “attribute much of their success to ‘good luck’ rather than personal greatness.”

It is my wish that the dangerously risky task of leading humanity continues to draw on the strength that is heart leadership and all efforts will be expended to cultivate and nurture such through this medium.

Leadership, a dangerous undertaking

In attempting to discuss the person of Jesus Christ in the context of leadership, it is important to specify that both historical accounts and structural records do not project Christ as a warm and fuzzy character that has come to be the theme of most sermons. Jesus Christ was and is the epitome of leading change.

Firstly, those involved in the process of leading change will tell you that it is one of the most difficult roles a human being can attempt. This is so because as human beings, we hate change even though admitting so is politically incorrect. So we resist moving from our comfort zones especially when the next zone does not guarantee comfort upfront.

So Jesus Christ introduces an ideology that challenges the established Jewish religious foundation while at the same time declaring himself the son of the living God. This makes his mission dangerous for itself and for him as the face of it.

See more at: http://www.spiritdominion.com

Leadership, risky business!

Leading: The art of getting people focused on an idealized future and moving full steam in that direction. This art has been written about so much that a search for the word leadership brings out 499 million records in 27 seconds on Google.

Key in unpacking the concept is accepting that to lead is to live dangerously! Every day, in every facet in life, opportunities to lead call out to us. At work and home, in our local communities and in the global village, the chance to make a difference beckons. Yet most of us often hesitate. For all its passion and promise, for all its excitement and rewards, leading is risky, dangerous work! Why you would ask. Because real leadership -the kind that surfaces conflict, challenges long held beliefs, and demands new ways of doing things – causes pain. And when people feel threatened, they take aim at the person pushing for change. As a result, leaders often get hurt both personally and professionally. It is my wish that through this medium and other platforms, we will learn to understand that for those of us that are called to lead others, putting ourselves on the line, responding to the risks and living to celebrate our efforts is all in a day’s work

The concept of leadership has more followers and equally experts than most subjects with each publication building on already established ones. This piece does not seek to add to the amount of writing that has been done on the subject, but rather will seek to give my take on the discipline of leading others using Jesus Christ as the model leader. In order to embark on the content properly, it is crucial to accept that the question of nature vs. nurture is key and needs to be resolved up front.

There are people who are born with a gift to lead while there is also a large body of knowledge that seeks to teach the discipline of leading. Both these are crucial as some aspects of leading (for instance values or charisma) may prove difficult to teach while others may easily be taught (for instance the management aspects of leadership). So, are leaders born or made? It depends on what your DNA came programmed with and what social conditions you are raised under!

Leading with courage

The courage of leadship

The courage of leadship

Often I am perplexed at how much those of us in positions of influence (structurally speaking) miss the mark in terms of what the art of leadership is especially in direct comparison to those without the formal positions of influence.

As often mentioned, I am firm a believer in leadership being a state of being rather than what we do. In other words who we are comes before what we do. It is in the moments when the formal power layers have been taken off that we see the real person. Sometimes the titles we are formally given make us not be who we are and thus rob the world of an opportunity to experience the greatness we are.

One thing I have come to appreciate is that leadership begins with the heart. A heart that is consistent in allowing the leader to live steadily while moving among the team. A heart that is contrite enough to allow humility and willingness to show humanity regardless of who witnesses it. A type of heart that is courageous enough to chart the right path without shrinking from doing the right thing.

A leader should be able to communicate his/her convictions regardless of what the implications. We have many great examples of those who led with conviction (our very own Madiba, Ghandi, Marcus Garvey, Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King and others are often referred to in this context).

They are committed to a course regardless of how unpopular that may be. And finally they are totally captivated by what they believe in so much so that it matters not if that survives them (being ready to die for an idea that will live than live for an idea that will die).

Leading through priorities

Priorities in leading

Priorities in leading

Leadership focuses on an envisioned tomorrow while enlisting others towards it through conviction and commitment. The art of leading others therefore also means if I forget the ultimate, I will be enslaved by the immediate. The old adage of focusing on important things in order to avoid being driven by urgent ones.
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.

A few of my favourite quotes

 

JB_favourite_quotes

The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

                                                                                          To add value to others, one must first value others. – John Maxwell

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  – Winston Churchill

           The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.   John Buchan

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt

      I think leadership comes from integrity – that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there are non-obvious ways to lead. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a friend, a neighbor makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets blaring, activity. Scott Berkun

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done. Peter Drucker

This saying is trustworthy: “If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a goodwork.” The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must manage his own householdwell and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. But if someone does notknow how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devilwill exact. And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may notfall into disgrace and be caught by the devil’s trap.  1 Timothy 3:1-7

Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person.1 Corinthians 10:24