In view of the current climate of unrest in South Africa and the spotlight currently being on gender based violence, I could not help but gain respect for our SARS commissioner, Edward Kieswetter...
He has penned a letter
to the SARS staff showing a clear understanding of the term servant leadership.
One of the fundamentals
of servant leadership is to help those who are doing poorly, to do well. And when our people are doing poorly psychologically and emotionally, it is virtually impossible for them to perform at their peak.
It is for this reason that understanding and responding positively and purposefully
to external influencing factors is a step in the right direction for our leaders.
Having said all of that, it is also important for our leaders to be pre-emptive, to apply critical thinking and extremely importantly, self mastery.
There are emerging statistics on the result of the #metoo movement that show the potential backlash in organisations. Not the least of which is the reaction from male leaders who have become reluctant to employ females.
In addition there are some company policies that have been rewritten
to incorporate rules such as 'no meetings allowed with only one male and one female present'.
Obviously these unintended consequences are harmful to the progress of an organisation
and when such negative decisions are made in a knee-jerk fashion, one has to ask if the leaders are applying the self-mastery necessary to navigate their way in a rapidly changing world.
I, for one, think Kieswetter has got it right. The portion of his letter that I think is most impressive is the urgency and time lines applied
to the concrete action of changing policy, empowering a point person, understanding from the staff what it is that most troubles them and then reacting to that rather than making top down decisions.
He is also right when he says SARS is a microcosm of the larger SA community as are most of our larger organisations.
My request to all the leaders in SA
is thus simple. Use your resources, learn from those getting it right and follow suit as a leader in your organisation!
The thing is if you don't
and you don't adapt quickly to the demands of your people, your clients, your country as such, it may just be too late and you will find yourself having these same discussions next year this time... Just with an added weight of being the leader nobody trusts to get it right.
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© Debbie Engelbrecht 2019
Debbie is the MD at Staff Training, providing soft skills and leadership training for South Africans since 2000. Should you wish for Staff Training to put together an annual training package for you covering aspects of management, wellness and self-mastery, please email firstname.lastname@example.org