“People use the terms Management and Leadership interchangeably. This shows that they do not see the crucial difference between the two and the vital functions that each role plays.” – John Kotter
In general, there is a strong focus on Leadership at the start of an Entrepreneurs’ journey. Leadership is about being future directed and aligning action to an inspiring Vision. The roadmap of entrepreneurship starts with a great idea of a desired future state.
Unfortunately, and in general as the stressors related to a desire to perform or to preventing failure increases, the prevailing tendency is to over focus on the day to day operations at the expense of future direction.
Your venture as an entrepreneur gradually becomes more and more exposed to the risk of becoming irrelevant when you over focus on day to day operations as you neglect to avail yourself of changes in the industry, developing a sustainable culture, and fail to offer an inspiring future direction and strategy to your team.
Leadership is not management. Both are needed to meet the ever challenging and changing business environment in which we operate. Most companies are over-managed and under-led resulting in a strong focus on analysis, performance management, the here and now, and less time spent on inspiring the workforce towards a desired future state. For sustained success both Leadership and management is required but the focus should shift to strong Leadership to remain valid.
The visible proof of a team being over-managed and under-led usually is the result of a team being de-motivated by a constant focus on tasks and performance evaluations yet rarely being exposed to and engaged in a motivating and energetic environment.
Leadership is not a title or a position. By your actions, you either give a title meaning or by not living up to your title you take away the meaning of it. Having the title of CEO, COO, or whatever it may be does not imply that you are a leader, by your actions you demonstrate if you are worthy of your title and being called a leader or not.
The wrong internal dialogue, for example, “I cannot be a leader because I am just a cleaner”, or “I do not have the charisma to be a leader”, stunts your growth as a person and makes it impossible to lead. When a person comes to the realisation of the fact that anyone can lead irrespective of their position or title and acts accordingly, the wonderful journey to the actualisation of their potential has started.
Leadership is future directed towards a common and mutually desired Purpose and Vision. Leadership is the ability to create more leaders and inspiring them through your own actions as a Visionary.
The writer asks the reader to challenge the voice saying: “I cannot Lead” by asking: “Who told you so?” It is ourselves entertaining and then believing such negative talk, we are to blame. Leadership starts with a firm decision to be a leader followed by consistent action congruent with the term leadership.
Leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin. True Leaders spend a vast amount of time on creating a positively challenging environment wherein people feel worthy and validated and eager to face the challenges at hand.
What do the great leaders do? They create energy by inspiring others. They act bravely and venture outside of their comfort zones to show to others that it is possible to do so. They stay level headed in times of crises, and sincerely praises the team in times of peak performance.
True Leaders act with integrity according to the values of the company. They are excited by and cannot mention the Vision and values of their company enough.
Leaders tend to notice those “small wins” achieved, that collectively and over time can result in “big wins” and celebrate it. Visionaries are not afraid to ask for help or be mentored as they know that nobody can achieve something amazing and lasting totally by themselves.
Leaders never stop learning and growing. True leaders coach and mentor others in a sincere way and leave other leaders behind. When you act on the above you are a leader irrespective of your position.
Management in general is a focus on the daily operations of the business. Constantly analysing the key metrics of the business and aligning processes and the behaviour of the team to improve the results of the business. This is a very necessary function and cannot be underestimated. Even when a great leader is present but poor management processes and systems prevail, the leader will most likely fail.
Can you be a Manager and Leader at the same time? The answer depends on the situation but yes, it is possible to both be a Manager and Leader. Both Leaders and managers are as successful as their team members are successful.
The above is merely theory. The following is offered as practical steps to grow the leadership capabilities of team members.
- Deliberately analyse your team members’ leadership capabilities and potential every quarter.
- Create an internal Leadership training program or ensure that there are training opportunities to develop the Leadership capabilities within your team. Do extensive research on this and ensure that your team has access to high quality Leadership training, coaching and mentoring.
- Make it your mission to find ways to inspire individual team members. This can be very challenging especially in larger organisations where people can easily become a number. Train your managers to find ways to inspire others.
- Ensure that there is always an element of inspiration contained within meetings. What stops you from starting a meeting with a short yet very inspiring video? What stops you from sharing an inspiring story during a meeting?
- Inspire others during your presentations with great story telling and true examples of great leadership behaviour.
- Share your passion for the Vision and values of the company and behave accordingly.
- Remove the sole focus on numbers in your company newsletters and start focussing on culture, inspirational success stories, and this great Vision that you hold so dear.
- Always ask yourself after meetings- How did I make my team feel after this meeting? Before meetings always ask: “What can I say and do during this meeting to inspire my team?
- Ensure that the day to day management of your business does not suffer due to an over focus on Leadership. At the same time ensure that your team does not become de-motivated by an over focus on management and lack of inspiration. Slowly but surely find this balance.
All the above should not be the final steps nor the only steps that could be employed to ensure a stronger and sustainable servant leadership culture. Your strategy and culture must be scrutinised regularly and the right questions must be asked to assess if you are on the right track.
Want To Achieve Greatness? Force Everyone Out Of Their Comfort Zones
Diverse teams are better performing teams, but only when they are inclusive.
Working in a diverse team feels uncomfortable and that’s why we perform better. Discomfort arouses our brain, which leads to better performance.
Diverse teams are smarter teams. They have higher rates of innovation, error detection and creative problem solving. In environments that possess diverse stakeholders, being able to have different perspectives in the room may even enable more alignment with varied customer needs.
Being able to think from different perspectives actually lights up areas of the brain, such as the emotional centres needed for perspective taking that would previously not be activated in similar or non-diverse groups.
In a nutshell, you use more of your brain when you encourage different perspectives by including different views in the room. However, work done at the NeuroLeadership Institute has proven that this only works when diverse teams are inclusive, and this still remains a key challenge in business today.
When we consider the amount of diversity present in the modern workplace and the addition of more diverse thinking as a result of globalisation and the use of virtual work teams, it’s clear that the ability to unlock the power of diversity is just waiting to be unleashed.
Here’s how you can unlock this powerful performance driver.
The Social Brain
Despite the rich sources of diversity present in most workplaces, companies are still often unable to leverage the different perspectives available to them in driving business goals. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have enabled us to understand why. The major breakthrough has centred around the basic needs of the social brain.
We have an instinctual need to continually define whether we are within an in-group or an out-group. This is an evolutionary remnant of the brain that enabled us to strive to remain within a herd or group where we had access to social support structures, food and potential mates. If we were part of the out-group it could literally have meant life or death. We are therefore hypersensitive to feelings of exclusion as it affected our survival.
The brain is further hardwired for threat and unconsciously scans our environments for threats five times a second. This means, coupled with our life or death need for group affiliation, we are hypersensitive to finding sameness and a need for in-group inclusion.
When we heard a rustle in a bush it was safer to assume that it may be a lion than a gust of wind. It is this threat detection network that has kept us alive until today. The challenge is that society has developed faster than our brains. In times of uncertainty we often jump to what is more threatening.
Some of the ways that this plays out is when we leave someone out of an email and they begin to wonder why they were left out. The problem is that it’s easy to unconsciously exclude someone if we are not actively including. The trouble occurs when we incorrectly use physical proxies to define in-group and out-group, as this is the most readily available evidence used unconsciously by the brain.
Barriers to Inclusion
A study done between a diverse group and non-diverse group demonstrates how this plays out in the work place. Both groups completed a challenging task and were asked how they felt they did as a team after the exercise.
The effectiveness of the team and how they perceived effectiveness were both measured in the study. It’s no surprise that the diverse team did better in the completion of the problem-solving task, but what is surprising is that they felt they did not do well. In contrast, the non-diverse team did worse, but felt that they had done well.
Working in a diverse team feels uncomfortable and that’s why we perform better. Discomfort arouses our brain, which leads to better performance. It feels easier to work in a team where we feel at ease in sameness, but in that environment we are more prone to groupthink and are less effective.
We can’t assume that when we place diverse teams together we will automatically reap the rewards of higher team performance. As discussed, we’re hardwired for sameness and if we’re not actively including, we may be unconsciously excluding.
If we want diversity to become a silver bullet, we need to actively make efforts to find common ground amongst disparate team members. This in turn will build team cohesion and create a sense of unity, including reminders of a shared purpose and shared goals. Many global businesses put an emphasis on a shared corporate culture that supersedes individual difference.
It’s the same mechanism that is used in science fiction films that bond individuals together against a common alien invasion. It can also be used to describe why we felt such a great sense of accomplishment during the 2010 World Cup as we banded together as a nation.
We must also make sure we uplift all team members by sharing credit widely when available and recognising performance. The last thing we can do to further inclusion is to create clarity for teams. By removing ambiguity, we allow individuals to not jump to conclusions about their membership within groups and calm their minds so they can use their mental capacity to focus on the task at hand.
To Get A Job Or Not Get A Job. What Are We Teaching Our Children?
Remember the days where if you went to school and studied a degree, you got a job and built a career that enabled you to retire comfortably? I don’t, in fact I’m not sure those days ever really existed. If they did, they are long gone.
Today STATS SA tells us only 1 in 3 of the youth in South Africa have a job, even worse still – 34% of graduates aged 15-24 are unemployed1. The bottom line is that there are not enough jobs to cater for every child that finishes school. Our children need to learn entrepreneurship. If we want a brighter future for them, we need to nurture, teach and develop the skills and behaviours required to create jobs of their own.
With no intention of knocking the school system it would seem for the most part it discourages entrepreneurial thinking on a fundamental level; it prepares students to become good employees. Tuck your shirt in, sit still, stand in line, do your homework, focus on the task, check this box, you get the picture. Three decades ago this may have worked but it won’t work when we are trying to teach our children to survive the forth industrial revolution and prepare for jobs that don’t yet exist!
It may sound like a cliché, but kids are our future. As a parent I believe one of the most important duties we have is to give our children the best possible start. We need to prepare them on how to live, survive and thrive in a world that is rapidly changing, mostly unpredictable and often unforgiving. This starts by identifying the skills and nurturing the behaviours that will give them the best chance for success.
Teaching entrepreneurship prepares our children for the future
Entrepreneurship encompasses so much more than starting and running a business. It’s a shift in mindset, a different way of thinking. Entrepreneurship views problems as opportunities and fuels creativity in the pursuit of solutions. All these skills can be applied to life.
Successful entrepreneurs are resourceful, self-confident and tenacious. They are great communicators and marketers, good at identifying and understanding risk. They have learnt from failure and made mistakes. Entrepreneurs are financially literate, understand cash flow and how to manage money. Again, these are skills that every child and student can benefit from.
To make it in the workplace of the future you will need to be self-confident, innovative, creative, motivated and curious.
Employers will need to hire staff that have the creative ability to innovate and ensure the longevity of their organisations. Those people that show entrepreneurial flair will be in demand in a world that is ever and more rapidly changing.
Exposing our children to entrepreneurship, teaching them the fundamental skills and behaviours required to start a business, and letting them know it is a career choice should be a requirement in all schools and endorsed and supported by all parents.
- Youth unemployment still high in Q1: 2018 http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=11129
How To, In Practice, Distinguish Between Executive, Non-Executive And Independent Directors And Their Functions
Learn more about the differences in executive and non-executive directors.
Definition of a director in terms of the Companies Act
Section 1 of the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (Companies Act) defines a Director as “a member of the board of a company, as contemplated in section 66, or an alternate director of a company and includes any person occupying the position of director or alternate director, by whatever name designated”.
Powers of directors
Section 66 of the Companies Act determines that the business and affairs of the company must be managed by or under the direction of its board and that the board has the authority to exercise all of the power and perform any of the functions of the company, except to the extent that the Companies Act or the Company’s Memorandum of Incorporation provides otherwise.
The board of directors, for the first time in our current Companies Act has been assigned the legal duty and responsibility and play a very important role in managing the affairs of the company and making vital decisions on behalf of the company.
Number of directors required on a board
In the case of a private company, or a personal liability company, the board must consist of at least one director and the case of a public company, or non-profit company, the board must consist of at least three directors. A JSE listed company requires at least four directors. The company’s Memorandum of Incorporation may however specify a higher number, substituting the minimum number of directors required.
How to distinguish between executive, non-executive and independent directors and their functions
A clear distinction is noticeable between the different types of directors in practice, even though the Act does not distinguish between executive, non-executive and independent directors.
The below table gives a clear understanding of the differences between executive and non-executive directors:
Member of the board of directors with directors’ duties.
|Part of the executive team, as an employee of the company and generally under a service contract with the company.||Not an employee of the company.|
|Involved in the day-to-day management of the company.||Not involved in the day-to-day management of the company.|
|In addition to a salary, does not receive directors’ fees.||May receive Directors’ fees, but does not receive a salary.|
|Shareholders are not involved in approving their salary packages.||Shareholders must approve their fees by way of special resolution, in advance.|
|Employee entitlements apply, such as annual and sick leave.||No entitlements apply.|
|Has an intimate knowledge of the workings of the company.||They contribute to the development of management strategies and monitor the activities of the executive directors.|
|They carry an added responsibility. Entrusted with ensuring that the information laid before the board by management is an accurate reflection of their understanding of the affairs of the company.||Plays an important role in providing objective judgement, independent of management on issues the company are facing.
Independent, non-executive director
An independent, non-executive director does not have a relationship, directly or indirectly with the company other than his or her directorship. They should be free of any relationship that could materially interfere with the independence process of his or her judgement and they do not represent the shareholders of the company.
An independent, non-executive director should be evaluated on an annual basis to determine if they are still considered independent.
The role of these directors
All directors should apply objective judgment and an independent state of mind, regardless of the classification as an executive, non-executive or independent non-executive director.
Executive directors may be appointed as non-executive directors on other boards if this does not influence their current position and is in accordance with company policy.
Before a director accepts the appointment, they should be familiar with their duties and responsibilities and be provided with the necessary training and advice.
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