Monthly Archives: September 2012

The sword of leadership is criticism, embrace it!

It is your birthday today and your significant other get you a nicely wrapped package with a note “Happy Birthday, With love X”. This gesture clarifies the appreciation and love that this person has for you. Likewise, leadership comes with its own packages, albeit not neat. Frustrating moments, tears, joys and criticism are part of what is in the leadership bag. In other times, a package with a note “My dear leader, with due respect, you suck and seriously so” adorn your ears. What do you do when you are encountered with such words? Do you take this criticism constructively  and fix your inequities or do you go on a defensive mode?

I am a young fellow, very young to have not witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island. In the past I have been a member of few societies on campus because it is in these societies that you drink wine [sic] and meet dazzling and radiantly beautiful ladies. However, moments later you realise that wine and cheese do not matter any more, and real issues needs to be confronted and addressed if circumstances permit. It is in this stage that problems arise and your character as a society leader gets tested. Senior members will hold you accountable to the very last word as promised by your annual plan of action.

At this hour wine glasses are broken and bottles empty. Fortunately enough the corkscrew is still intact – it is the human mind that is tinkered with fermented fruit juice. You, as a society leader might believe that the members’ questions or any utterances they throw are informed by the irrationality of fruity water they just consumed.

Those you lead will always have grievances with the manner in which you conduct business.They will seek clarity and question whatever looks suspicious and more often than not doing so while criticizing you. The emotional intelligence required by this turnouts from your team or members is that you embrace whatever criticism that might come your way.

My membership in these campus societies taught me that there will always be opinion leaders – often mistaken as echo-chambers – who will criticize you and question every line item on the financial report. In most cases their thoughts are valuable and emotionally charged. You need to keep calm, shut your mouth and open your ears when you are being criticized. When you have heard these “echo-chambers” you will be a better and effective leader. In fact keep these people at bay, never let them sail away from your harbour for they are the most important resource in your society.

You hear something along this lines “You are a pretty crappy leader”, take this constructively,  gather your thoughts, down a glass of water and give a calm response that is not driven by emotions!

The sword of leadership is criticism and your shield humility. Embrace it and do eat a humble pie should situations dictate!


Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Leadership


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A lesson in history

Prior to reading this post, please bear in mind that I am a proponent for Affirmative Action and/or Black empowerment of any kind. I argue in favour of this not because that non-blacks be denied opportunities in this country. I do so because I am of a firm believe that structural damages caused by the legacy of apartheid needs to be repaired.

It seems that my fellow citizens of a lighter skin tone are antagonist to anything that seek to advance the black race economically.  I acknowledge the fact that we are living in the new democratic dispensation and as such every citizen must be afforded equal opportunities in order to live a better life as promised by the ruling ANC. However, it worries me that whenever a big corporate announces a job vacancy with a clause that those who will be considered are people from designated groups; there becomes a furore threatening boycotts against the company involved.

It should be unreservedly acknowledged that the apartheid history left an indelible mark to those who were considered sub-human during those dark days. A beautiful country such as South Africa, today faces challenges of many kinds. We are at the bottom of the foot chain in terms of quality of education in the world, people continue to perish as a result of communicable diseases and spatial developments in our communities leaves much to be desired. These challenges still prevails largely because of the disadvantage that the descendant of those suffered the injustices of the past bears.

For a corporate company like The South African Airways and Woolworths to adopt the Employment Equity policies is a gesture of attempting to address the inequities of  the past. Such interventions are implemented not to disadvantage the minorities in this country, but to correct the wrongs of history and put every citizen on an even playing ground. I mentioned two companies in particular, because, certain group of people threatened them not to buy at Woolworths nor fly SAA after they have publicly announced that the vacant posts are reserved for targeted groups.

It is to err to think any company that introduces Employment Equity plans discriminates against white people. It should be further understood that Employment Equity plans seek to address the shortage of designated groups in certain categories of employment, and to address these, a pool of applicants (largely black) is targeted.

It is the imperative of the constitution to fix our society so as to achieve the ideals of equal opportunities for all, that the opposing Democratic Alliance envisage. In actual fact, Affirmative Action is enshrined in our constitution as per section 9 (2). Therefore, it is fitting to assume that policies such as Employment Equity are necessary to fix the system; it does not fix itself.

My dear reader, walk with me down the memory lane as I remind you that Employment Equity policies are necessitated by some of the policies implemented during the scavenger-era of apartheid. Job Reservation Act, which prohibited black people from getting certification for their skills and trade is a case in point.

Lesson to be derived:

If there is a lesson to be derived in the history of apartheid and the prevailing state of affairs is that whatever decision you take, whatever choice your make, these might have a profound adverse impact on your descendant.

It is therefore unwarranted for the solidarity groups to oppose employment equity and to declare boycotts against those companies implementing Affirmative Action.


Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Politics


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