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Wonder Jonamu Explains How To Be A Good Leader

Great leadership means getting the most out of your people, but not at any cost. Good leaders always lead with compassion.

GG van Rooyen

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  • Player: Wonder Jonamu
  • Company: Samaritan Leadership Institute
  • What they do: Executive leadership assessment and development; and leadership courses. Wonder holds a MCom in Industrial & Organisational Psychology and is a registered psychometrist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
  • Visit: www.samaritanleadership.com

The modern business landscape has a leadership problem, says Wonder Jonamu. “We’ve seen a lot of leadership failures lately, both within the political and business spheres. Leaders are encouraged to be tough, decisive and get results.

“There’s nothing wrong with this in theory, but it can lead to an overly aggressive and autocratic leadership style that can be detrimental to the long-term health of a company.”

These days, the Silicon Valley tech scene is the main trendsetter when it comes to business leadership. People like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page have become the shining examples. It’s all about gathering data, implementing innovative systems and processes, and pushing employees to find the best possible solution to any problem.

Don’t chase leadership fads

Is it a bad thing to model your business after the funky Google or Facebook, or to have Apple’s absolute obsession with design? Not necessarily, but chasing fads won’t fix a fundamental leadership problem within a company.

“The problem with a fad is that it consumes people in the hype of exciting buzzwords, but delivers very little impact on real business tangibles. Fads are topical; they merely represent the popular thinking of the day. So, what happens is that leaders talk about these topical buzzwords in the boardroom, but it doesn’t translate to the bottom line,” says Wonder.

Related:  6 Mistakes That Rookie Leaders Make That Can Cause Them To Fail

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to leadership

Wonder, who recently penned a book titled Samaritan Leadership, isn’t trying to push another fad. Unlike many other books on this ever-popular topic, there are no slick mantras or checklists that promise to instantly turn any founder or CEO into a great leader.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to leadership,” says Wonder. “It all depends on the nature of the business, the leader and the employees. Leadership is a very fluid concept, so you need to ask yourself: What does leadership mean to me?”

Wonder recommends doing a very thorough personal assessment of your leadership style. “You need to question your leadership style. What are my aims when I engage with my employees? How do I come across to other people?

“Not enough leaders take the time to ask and answer these questions. To get real answers, you have to be brave enough to sit down with the people you lead and ask them for complete honesty. By doing this, you’ll discover your own blindspots.”

Of course, the whole situation becomes even more complicated when you’re dealing with tough economic times or an existential threat to the business. It’s easy to be benevolent as a leader when business is booming, but what happens when the company starts to struggle? That’s when results start to dominate the conversation and leaders start acting like taskmasters.

Lead with compassion

So, how can you be an effective leader, especially when times are tough and results are crucial? Wonder is quick to point out that being a good leader doesn’t mean being friends with your employees. As a leader, you need to be firm and hold people accountable, but the important thing is to do it with compassion.

“With our modern focus on data, leaders can lose touch with the reality on the ground. When you look only at the numbers, you start to treat your employees like nothing more than a commodity. You could call that management, but you couldn’t call that good leadership,” says Wonder.

According to Wonder, good leadership requires compassion. “It’s about looking at the whole person, and not just at the role someone plays within the organisation. Too many leaders pay so little attention to employees, that they don’t even notice when something is obviously wrong.

“As a leader, you need to notice what’s happening with those around you. Are they scared or depressed? Is there a lack of morale? You need to look both at teams and individuals. A team might be doing great overall, but an individual might be struggling. You need to notice these things.”

Understand the impact your words have on your people

Another issue is the lack of compassion with which news is often delivered. Leaders simply disseminate information, without thinking about the impact it will have on people.

“It is your responsibility to create a compassionate environment where people aren’t afraid to share their thoughts and worries. You need to communicate, and you need to allow others to communicate.”

The good news is that Wonder believes that anyone can be a great leader. “Leadership is a skill that you need to develop. It requires practice,” says Wonder. “The focus should be on compassion. When you come from a place of compassion, you’ll treat your employees fairly, regardless of whether you are praising them for great work, or dealing with mistakes they’ve made.

“A great way to develop compassion is through mindfulness exercises. It will help you to treat both yourself and others with compassion. Only when you start engaging with people on a compassionate level and making yourself vulnerable in the process can you become a great leader.”

Related: How To Be A Great Leader When Leadership Doesn’t Come Naturally To You

READ THIS

Get a signed copy of Samaritan Leadership: Leading with Compassion for R250 excl postage by contacting the author directly on info@samaritanleadership.com. The book is also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, both in paperback and kindle versions.

 

Leading

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Great Leader?

Because it takes everything you’ve got.

Raul Villacis

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I recently hosted the Next Level Leadership Summit in Connecticut, where the main focus was answering the following question: What does it take to lead?

The attendees were seasoned businessmen who ran multiple 7-figure businesses. They had a chance to hear from entrepreneurs in industries like real estate, finance, tech and health. The stories from each presenter gave proof that it doesn’t matter what business you are in – we all have similar struggles. But the biggest insight was the difference between the chase of success versus the pursuit of greatness.

A leader doesn’t chase success, because he knows the chase is never-ending. He doesn’t care what others think, because he knows judgment kills growth. A leader doesn’t worry about how he’s going to make things happen, because he’s focused on the why that drives him to find a way.

Anyone can achieve success, but it takes a certain type of individual to be crazy enough to pursue greatness. This message hit home for me because five years ago, I got tired of chasing success. I had hit a wall in my life, and everything seemed meaningless. The path I had chosen was no longer fulfilling, and I felt empty.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

It made no sense for me to feel that way. After all, I had everything anyone could ever want – a growing real estate business, a beautiful family and money in the bank. I thought I had reached success! So, what was wrong with me?

Was I being ungrateful? No. Was I depressed? I didn’t think so. Sometimes I would ask myself, “What if I ceased to exist?” Would anyone care besides my family? What impact have I made on the world?

It became clear to me that it wasn’t success I was seeking. I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to join the ranks of those whose deepest desire wasn’t the chase of success, but rather the pursuit of greatness. The only way to do it was to become a leader.

Today, we oftentimes confuse financial success and leadership. Just because a man knows how to make money doesn’t mean he’s a good leader. I was making money, but I wasn’t a leader, and all my success didn’t mean I was making an impact.

Too many times as successful businessmen, we can’t figure out how to transfer the skills we use at work into the other areas of our lives. Many of us settle for an average relationship with our significant other when we could have more if we simply applied some of the passion that fuels us at our business. The same goes for our health. We often take it for granted. If the same low-maintenance approach were taken with our work, most of us would be out of business. And, what about making an impact – our higher purpose? Most of us settle for higher revenues and move through life like zombies without a purpose. We eventually burn out.

Greatness comes with a price. You have to be willing to lose it all. At that crucial point in my life, I made a decision to pursue my passion.

I decided to create the Next Level Experience. It was my passion business where I would help businessmen find the edge in their lives, and start living with purpose. I had to start from the beginning, and it was frightening and invigorating all at the same time. For the first time in long while, I felt like I was on the right path. My real estate partners thought I was crazy for putting so much time and resources behind it. They told me if I just put the same amount of effort, I would make 10 times the investment. But I was done chasing success. I wanted to create something that mattered, and I was willing to lose everything to make an impact. It was through that experience I learned I was ready to lead.

Related: What Kind Of Leader Are You?

There’s something about the fear of losing everything that shifts your focus. You turn the switch. I had no other choice but to lead. Five years later I’ve helped thousands of men find their edge and turned my passion business into multiple 7-figures.

So, what does it take to lead? Everything you have. The world doesn’t need more millionaires and billionaires chasing success. The world needs leaders who are willing to do whatever it takes to help others along the way to greatness.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Leading

Albert Einstein: An Influencer To This Day

Say the word genius and immediately Albert Einstein springs to mind. To this day his influence remains across not only science, humanity and education but popular culture too.

Glenn van Eck

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Albert Einstein had the same mentality as an entrepreneur; he was a discoverer, an educator, a revolutionary and incredibly creative. Below are some of the few more reasons why entrepreneurs can learn from him:

1. Even geniuses get it wrong

Einstein wasn’t always right. The best example of Einstein getting it wrong, was when he had trouble accepting that the universe is based on probabilities, not absolutes. In a famous Einstein/Bohr debate, Einstein stated, “God does not play dice with the universe,” with Bohr retorting:

“Einstein, stop telling God what to do!”

2. One should read

When you find the right book, at the right time, it can have an incredible impact on your mindset. I have learned so much from books, and many have helped me as an entrepreneur. Not only does reading give you quiet time and space to look after yourself, but it’s also exciting to keep discovering incredible insights, and being surprised by their impact.

Now I don’t think I will ever dream up a concept that will have world-changing implications like Einstein did, but reading can open new doors for you and your mind, and take you places you never thought possible.

Related: 10 Leadership Quotes From The World’s Most Influential Leaders

3. Enjoy the challenge

Einstein didn’t pluck remarkable theories out of thin air. He made many mistakes, he persisted and proved his theories worked.

Einstein would ask challenging questions and ask them in different ways. By doing this, he was able to address the unknown from different angles and eventually unveil some of the most perplexing universal secrets.

4. Your weaknesses are your strengths

Experts such have hypothesised that Einstein might have suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome; a condition where sufferers are described as socially aloof, emotionally detached and exhibit inappropriate social behaviour. But on the flip side, those with  Asperger’s Syndrome can display an obsessive interest in a single topic or object. So, while Einstein wasn’t the best at socialising, he relished solitude and made incredible use of his mind.

By embracing his playfulness, curiosity and laser-like focus, Einstein decoded the universe. Not so much of a weakness when you think of it like that, hey?

5. Find your tribe

His professors often criticised Einstein’s ideas; professors who were accustomed to conformity. It was only when Einstein worked as a clerk at the patent office that he made significant strides in his thinking within physics, mathematics and philosophy.  The point being, make sure you surround yourself with people who get your creative juices flowing and fuel rather than deplete you.

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Your Narcissism Is Killing Your Employees’ Productivity. How To Avoid The Pitfalls

The key is to understand how your narcissism is affecting others and actively work to adjust and adapt your behaviour.

Joel Carnevale

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Narcissism appears to be on the rise among today’s business and entrepreneurial leaders, if you read the business pages and academic research on a regular basis. And this isn’t always a bad thing: Narcissists can be compelling leaders capable of executing grand strategic visions.

But all too often they are described as highly self-absorbed individuals who believe they are superior to those around them.

And while successful entrepreneurs tend to have high levels of self-confidence and an intense drive for success, often they’ll fall prey to the problems associated with the darker aspects of narcissism: Specifically, they take unnecessary risks, hold too tightly to their vision when change is needed and fail to recognise the work and sacrifices of those around them.

In our new study, which was published in May in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, my research partners and I sought to gain a better understanding of just how problematic narcissistic leaders are, and what they might do to lessen the negative outcomes. We surveyed 262 employees and their (262) direct supervising managers over a four-week period at a large Chinese technology company.

Related: 14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

Overall, we found the harmful consequences of narcissistic leaders to be wide-ranging.

Just how harmful is a harmful narcissistic leader?

We began by asking leaders at the tech company we targeted to complete a widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory test. Employees, meanwhile, were asked to report on their organisation-based self-esteem, meaning the degree to which they felt they belonged in their organisation.

As researchers we were operating on the understanding that the need to belong is a fundamental human need and motivator, but that narcissistic leaders fail to satisfy this need among their employees because of their high levels of self-concern.

Those high levels mean leaders like these ignore the feelings of others. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, for example, was often described as highly self-absorbed and inconsiderate of others. She was often criticised for being habitually late to meetings and dismissive of her constituents’ ideas and suggestions.

elon-muskElon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is also said to be highly abrasive, and to tend to berate employees who fail to live up to his impossibly high standards. One former engineer at the company referred to critical interactions with the SpaceX CEO as an “Elon ass-kicking” and said some employees felt “crushed under the weight” of those interactions. Not surprisingly, both Musk and Mayer have been recognised as some of the most narcissistic CEOs in the tech industry.

Our study found that 51 percent of employees with narcissistic leaders disagreed or strongly disagreed with statements asking if they felt valuable in the workplace. Moreover, this diminished sense of belonging had wide-ranging consequences on these employees’ behaviour. Specifically:

  • 34 percent of employees surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed with statements asking if they helped other group members with their responsibilities
  • 31 percent of employees disagreed or strongly disagreed with statements asking if they spoke up to their leader about their own improvement-oriented suggestions
  • 37 percent of employees agreed or strongly agreed with statements asking if they badmouthed their leader to their coworkers
  • 18 percent of employees agreed or strongly agreed with statements asking if they intentionally tried to disrupt task completion by ignoring their leader’s requests.

Such behaviours are troublesome enough for established companies, but for start-ups – whose survival depends on quick action and cooperation from all employees – the consequences can be dire.

Related: 5 Work Productivity Hacks Used By Rockstar Entrepreneurs

How can narcissistic leaders avoid the pitfalls of their personalities?

We asked employees to report whether their leader consulted with them before making decisions. While this kind of consultation is an influence tactic leaders use to gain employee support, it can also signal to employees that their contributions are valued.

We found that among narcissistic leaders, 27 percent frequently consulted with employees while another 43 percent consulted with employees to some extent.

Importantly, we found that when narcissistic leaders consulted with employees, the detrimental outcomes stemming from such leadership were not simply reduced, but eliminated completely. Here are three takeaways:

Actively listen

Active listening means that you concentrate on the message being communicated; you don’t just passively “receive” the message. Unfortunately, most narcissistic leaders have difficulty focusing on what others are saying and often ignore their advice.

One classic example of a narcissistic leader who altered his behavior to more attentively listen to others was Steve Jobs. Much of Jobs’ success upon returning to the helm at Apple in 1997 was attributed to the drastic change in his interpersonal behavior from his prior tenure in 1985.

Not only was he more willing to listen to his employees, but he was described as someone who “seemed to relish other people’s ideas.” Our research indicated that employees are likely to discount their narcissistic leaders’ more abrasive qualities when those leaders take the time to actively listen to their suggestions.

Invite involvement

Don’t just listen. Invite employees’ involvement in the making and development of decisions. Our study demonstrated that when narcissistic leaders invite employees to participate in leadership processes, those employees experience a sense of ownership in the process that can help alleviate the leader’s more harmful tendencies.

In particular, such behaviour signals to employees that their narcissistic leader is not only willing to listen when they, the employees, have concerns or suggestions, but actually desire to receive those employee contributions.

Related: 7 Productivity Beliefs That Get You Nowhere Fast

Be accessible

According to Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, the best leaders “make a religion out of being accessible.” Likewise, our research emphasised the importance of narcissistic leaders making themselves accessible to individual employees.

Despite his narcissism, Welch often sent personal notes to his executives and met one-on-one with employees at all levels. Such behaviours were part of the programs Welch instituted to enhance employees’ “feelings of ownership and self-worth” in the GE culture. We found that the individual attention employees receive when they’re consulted provides the interpersonal interaction they crave, but rarely receive, from their narcissistic leader.

Due to the dynamic environment of the typical entrepreneurial venture, communication and cooperation from employees is a necessity for continued growth and survival. Although entrepreneurial leaders may be more narcissistic than their counterparts in non-entrepreneurial vocations, the pitfalls associated with their tendencies may be avoidable.

The key is for such leaders to understand how their narcissism is affecting others and actively work to adjust and adapt their behavioir.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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