The SA Board for People Practices (SABPP), the HR professional and quality assurance body launched its National Leadership Standard at the KZN Think Tank on 10 April 2018 at the Umhlanga Coastlands Hotel in Durban. The event was organised by HR consulting firm QBit Africa in collaboration with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The purpose of the event was to create a thinking space for business leaders where they have the opportunity to re-envisage their organisation, work and people data as a critical enabler of relevant businesses of the future. The seminar provided a forum for dialogue on future concerns and strategic planning for companies in Kwazulu-Natal. Says Tony Cohn, Managing Director of Qbit: “As business leaders, we are continually required to interpret organisational strategy in the context of volatile, fast-paced markets, flexible business operating models, policies and processes, technology and people. There is also a great need to discuss common business transformation concerns for KZN that impacts products, services, revenue growth and business performance.”
Akiva Beebe of CCL highlighted the importance of leadership capability in building companies in positioning leadership as a key contributor to systematic and sustainable change in business. He states: “Change must be understood and driven throughout the fabric of the organisation, at all levels, in manageable and iterative execution.”
The South African Leadership Standard was developed by SABPP after a very extensive consultation process with leaders in government, business, the public sector, non-profit organisations and academic institutions.
“The South African Leadership Standard is the world’s first National Leadership Standard. It is the first time that stakeholders have agreed what good leadership practice is across the different sectors, whether you are a school principal, head of a municipality, branch manager at a bank or retailer,” SABPP CEO, Marius Meyer, CEO of SABPP explains. He also thanked KZN managers for their inputs and participation in the development of the South African leadership standard.
The Standard provides a clear guideline for leaders on how to be effective leaders in practice: “The idea is to provide leaders with a framework that will make it clear to them what good leadership practice is all about. It also gives them an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes they are making and the challenges they are facing. It guides leaders in terms of being mature enough to look at those issues and then to improve on their leadership practice.”
It is applicable to all levels of leadership from the most senior leaders to the most junior supervisors in the organisation. It is also applicable to different types of leaders – functional leaders, Heads of Supply Chain, HR, Finance, the CEO and the CFO. “It does not matter whether you are a factory, a private company, government department or municipality or a non-profit organisation. Ultimately, all institutions of society need to be effective and they can only be effective if they have the best leaders in place,” Meyer contends.
SABPP’s Leadership Standard captures the five elements of good leadership: “Leaders need to instil a vision, deliver results which create value, live the values, influence people and reflect for improvement. Any good leader must be able to apply these.” Meyer emphasised that leaders must add value to organisations. Moreover, most leaders admitted to us that they neglect the fifth element, i.e. to make time and create a space to reflect for improvement.
Meyer says the Standard will make a positive difference in South Africa: “Leaders in South Africa do not have clear guidelines. You are either appointed or elected into a leadership position and it’s a case of sink or swim. The guideline provides a huge opportunity. It tells you where you need to start with your leadership practice, how you need to improve your leadership practice and how to take your team with you. The challenge in South Africa is that while there are pockets of excellence and leaders who are brilliant in terms of vision, they are often unable to get their staff to execute the vision.”
Meyer encouraged all leaders in South Africa and also in the KZN province, irrespective of position or role to embrace the Standard, and to apply it. “It is a tool in your hand that will help you to be a more effective leader. Surely, there cannot be a single leader in the country who wants to fail. The opportunity for you as a leader is to be reflective and to say I have a guideline, and to apply the guideline to the best of your ability. I am absolutely convinced that if you are in private business you can double your profits. If you are in tourism or other service delivery businesses you will have more effective service delivery, irrespective of whether you are in private companies, government or a non-profit organisation. The standard will ensure that leaders are successful in their leadership role,” Meyer concludes.