A Leadership Standard for African Entrepreneurs: An opportunity to grow yourself, your people and Africa by Marius Meyer

The new South African #LeadershipStandard: How will it affect employees? by Marius Meyer
October 25, 2017
Launch of South Africa’s first Payroll Standard By Marius Meyer and James McKerrell
October 25, 2017

At the Tropics Business Summit last week in Johannesburg we celebrated the success of African entrepreneurs and business leaders from 15 African countries. Congratulations to the team of Tropics Media, as well as their business partners and alliance partners in making a success of this historic conference.  Yes, we can live the slogan “Leaders without borders” as we break down the distance between us and as we start collaborating in achieving successful African businesses throughout the continent. My challenge to African entrepreneurs: Can’t we develop our own African version of Facebook?

But today we also celebrate a good news African story.  This week, on 26 October the first South African, the first African and indeed the world’s first national leadership standard will be launched at the 5th Annual HR Standards conference of SABPP.  Over the last five years, I have been involved in the two biggest projects of my career:

  1. Development of National HR Standards for South Africa (2013-2017);
  2. Development of a Leadership Standard for South Africa (from 2017)

Have you booked your seat for The Leadership Standard Launch?


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We currently face a crisis of leadership in the private sector, government and non-profit organisations. These organisations are underperforming because of poor leadership, despite pockets of excellence throughout the country.

Now that the process is ready to go live with the leadership standard for South Africa, it is good to see that so many stakeholders have expressed an interest in participating in this historic exercise.  The purpose of the project is to create a consistent standard for achieving leadership outcomes in ensuring that the goals of organisations are achieved.   Clearly, leadership is the most important factor in achieving organisational success and raising the bar for leaders with an explicit leadership standard is therefore of utmost importance.

The leadership standard framework consists of four key principles underlying the five elements of leadership:

  • Leadership philosophy: It is essential that a leader has an explicit philosophy on leadership.  The leadership philosophy outlines the thinking and beliefs about leadership. It answers the questions: What do I believe as a leader? Why is leadership important for me and my organisation?
  • Tone at the top: The tone at the top filters down to all staff, but in essence it means the leader sets the tone at the top and the example of the leader is then followed by others in the organisation. A commitment to ethics and high performance from the top is essential for the whole organisation.
  • Organisation culture: Leaders determine the organisation culture, in other words how things are done at the organisation.
  • Leadership outcomes: Finally, the organisation achieves certain goals as a result of the leadership of its leaders, including how they influence staff to execute the strategy.


The five elements of leadership are depicted at the centre of the leadership standard framework:

  1. Instilling Vision: A leader’s vision is a succinct description of what the leader wants to achieve in broad terms. In essence, the vision depicts the dream of the leader.
  2. Delivering Results Which Create Value: All oganisations deliver value to stakeholders in the form of products or services.  The leader should ensure that there is value in products and services which achieves results in meeting the needs of stakeholders.
  3. Living the Values: The values of leaders guide their behaviour, and that of their team members.
  4. Influencing people: Leaders achieve goals through people, and the ability to influence people and teams is therefore a key element of the leadership standard.
  5. Reflecting for Improvement: Lastly, leaders should continuously learn, seek feedback and reflect on their behaviour and actions to identify opportunities for improvement.

I wish African entrepreneurs and business leaders success on their own leadership journeys. Let us use the leadership framework as a guideline for African business success. Small business must not stay small. They should grow into medium businesses and then large companies.  Imagine what we can achieve if entrepreneurs from 54 African countries actively start to collaborate in building their businesses and leveraging trade opportunities as African leaders and entrepreneurs who are focusing on growing their businesses, their countries and ultimately the continent.  Let us build our relationships and convert business networks  into tangible business ventures achieving results.


Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) and author of 21 books for Juta, Van Schaik, Lexis-Nexis, Knowledge Resources and more than 500 articles for magazines such as HR Future, HR Voice, Talent Talks, Leadership Online and Achiever Magazine.  He delivered this speech at the Tropics African Business Leaders Summit on 21 October 2017.  The HR and business  community including entrepreneurs will receive daily updates on progress with the development of the Leadership Standard, they can use the hashtag #LeadershipStandard and follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or Talent Talks on @talenttalksnet  or by visiting the website www.sabpp.co.za