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Introspection

This value is as critical for individuals as it is for organisations. You stop looking internally, learn and adapt, you die.Thinking

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!

Death of intelectualism

This trend has made its way to our shores and it’s such a shame. People don’t even check facts anymore before stating their view on virtually anything and everything. We have the same people on social media posing as scientists, doctors, attorneys, preachers, teachers, parents, entrepreneurs, coaches and I even saw someone attempt to educate us on history without historical facts. Sad day for our species

 

2015 in Review – March

 

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.

 

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Group photo with all participants at the 2015 Annual Summit

The following tweets capture the sense of how the market received the Summit globally.


  
  After the Summit, it’s customary for us to create space for networking where Operators, Vendors, Analysts intermingle.

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Tebogo Molapisane, Professor Leslie Willcocks (London School of Economics) and Gareth Pritchard (BPESA Western Cape)

 

Learning leaders

 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.

On being proactive

In his classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Harvey asserts that proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern–things over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies in is a giant step in becoming proactive.

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Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas–Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

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).