New Era Leadership HOME
Leadership Self-Development Journey
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you.
You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
- James Allen
ADAPTABILITY: Effective leadership is more a consequence of the leader's ability to adapt well to changes than a consequence of his knowledge or experience.
COMMUNICATION: The leader's ability and commitment to communicate with clarity and appropriateness is essential to his leadership effectiveness.
EMPOWER: The more empowered and free people feel, the more they give to the cause. Rather than trying to control, leaders show trust in people's inherent capabilities.
PERSEVERANCE: Leadership disappears when we give up and emerges when we choose to persevere when others would have given up.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE: Only by making good heart and mind connections with people can the leader hope to influence them to co-operate enthusiastically.
CHARACTER: Leadership involves many tests of courage, resilience and morality which make strong character indispensable.
LEADERSHIP STYLE: Different situations require different leadership styles to be effective. Good leaders are flexible and versatile in their style.
CREATIVITY/INNOVATION: Since leaders focus on potential and imagine the future to be different, they demonstrate and encourage innovative and creative thinking.
RECOGNITION: Leaders recognise people privately and publicly out of real appreciation for their contributions as well as personal qualities.
BUILDING TEAM: It is in the development and performance of the team that the leader's effectiveness can be seen.
ORGANISATIONAL AWARENESS: Sufficient awareness of different aspects of the organisation, such as the reason for its existence, the history, structure and culture, enables the leader to align himself and his team effectively.
TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS: Understanding the potential positive and negative effects of technology in the organisation enables the leader to balance human interests with efficiency.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership is by definition action in the context of relationships. To ignore relationships contradicts leadership whereas building them enhances teamwork.
BUILDING TRUST: By being honest, open and consistent and by showing the willingness to trust the team, the leader lays a strong team foundation for the good, but especially bad times.
INSPIRING HOPE: Nothing is as damaging to an organisation as the negative attitudes of its people. It is the leader's uppermost responsibility to inspire hope and create a positive climate.
LIFE-BALANCE/RESILIENCE: To sustain his energy and ability to focus, and to set a credible example, a leader needs to have good balance between the different areas of his life and model resilience.
PASSION: The leader does not only have to have a strong sense of responsibility, but passion for the cause.
STRATEGIC THINKING: With the vision or goal in mind, leaders accept responsibility for the most effective way to achieve the vision or goal.
SELF-REGARD: Positive self-regard is necessary for a leader in order to accept criticism, learn from it and continue leading with confidence.
DECISION MAKING: With firm and apt individual decision making together with skilful facilitation of team decisions the leader ensures momentum and backing for the direction taken.
CULTURAL AWARENESS: In an age of globalisation and culturally diverse workplaces, sensitivity for differences is critical to the leader's success in mobilising people as a community.
BEING SERVANT: By choosing to serve and not boss the team, the leader builds them up and collectively they grow to become better leaders in service of the organisation.
SELF-CONFIDENCE: To lead requires the confidence to take the first step and have others follow you.
HONESTY/INTEGRITY: The leader is credible and ethical to the extent that his beliefs, values, attitude and behaviour forms an integrated whole.
SELF-AWARENESS: Self-awareness opens the door to effective communication and the leader's ability to relate to others.
VISIONARY THINKING: The mental picture of a desired destination, big or small, sparks focused activities and worthwhile endeavours, which is why leaders' first task is to imagine the ideal future.
AUTHENTICITY: A leader cannot help others unless he shares himself openly and honestly.
SELF-MOTIVATION: The leader motivates himself with his personal vision, passion, potential and moral convictions.
TREND/SYSTEMS AWARENESS: A big-picture view to spot trends early on and an understanding of the influences of systems and their relationships is needed for the strategic direction that the leader must give.
SELF-DISCIPLINE: The leader's self-discipline sets the standard and example for others without which consistent performance is not possible.
SELF-INITIATIVE: To be a leader is to take the initiative to make a positive difference.
BUILDING SUPPORT: A leader must be able to build support for his ideas and direction or else fail as a leader.

Not a Member?




Trend/systems awareness
Organisational awareness
Visionary thinking
Strategic thinking
Cultural awareness
Technology awareness


Connecting with people
Building relationships
Being servant
Building support
Building team
Building trust
Leadership style
Decision making
Inspiring hope


Challenging the Status Quo

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.

Alan Alda

Magic lies in challenging what seems impossible.

Carol Moseley Braun

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth…Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.

Noela Evans

 We cannot meet 21st Century challenges with a 20th Century bureaucracy.

Barack Obama

The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

Warren Bennis

So often we hear people say: ‘Sorry, this is just the way things are done around here.’ It is obviously not said with any pride or enthusiasm. But it is said with strong belief and conviction – with a ‘try to proof me wrong’ attitude. We know where that feeling comes from: it comes from shattered hopes. The cynical, defiant and sometimes aggressive attitude that one encounters is a reflection of dashed enthusiasm and earlier feelings of hurt. When we feel that we are bulldozed by a system every time we want to follow our common sense or what we belief is right, it becomes life-sapping. The feeling is so powerful that it influences our thinking in all areas of life, not only at work. Coming home in the evening family members’ enthusiasm about new ventures suddenly become irritable and their ideas feeble and unrealistic. We then become an extension of the negative, pessimistic and rigid culture in the workplace.  

But what is a system other than the product of people’s thinking translated into the design of structures and software programs, the compilation of policies, procedures and rules, all of which translated into conventions and powerful beliefs about how things should be? All that is then needed to keep the system safely in place is policing by a hierarchy of managers with positional power. That is why Warren Bennis observed that managers accept the status quo where leaders challenge it. What we need is leaders who challenge assumptions and the status quo. We need them desperately in all spheres of our societal life.

Admittedly, it is easier said than done. No question, it is easier, safer and less disruptive to conform and toe the line. To challenge authority about the bureaucratic system that was created and is preserved requires skill, finesse, courage and perseverance. Neither arrogance nor tentativeness serve us well. As with all challenges in life, it starts with ourselves. We have to do our homework first. Many efforts to challenge the status quo die an early death because people fail to test their assumptions. Alan Alda has good advice: Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in. Furthermore, we need to figure out what our own contribution will be towards a more desired state and demonstrate the will to be constructive.

Ricardo Semler, CEO of Semco and author of the book Maverick, is an example of a leader who dared to follow his instinct in the type of organisation he wanted. Time featured him among its Global 100 young leaders in 1994. Here is some facts about his company and some of his interesting and radical perspectives:     

  • Semco had annual revenue of $212 million in 2003, from $4 million in 1982 and $35 million in 1994, with an annual growth rate of up to 40 per cent a year. It employed 3,000 workers in 2003, as opposed to 90 in 1982.
  • Turnover among its 3,000 employees was about 1% during the period 1994 to 2004.
  • Repeat customers accounted for around 80% of Semco's 2003 annual revenues. 

The culture 

  • I don't want to know where Semco is headed. It doesn't unnerve me to see nothing on the company's horizon. I want Semco and its employees to ramble through their days, to use instinct, opportunity, and ingenuity to choose projects and ventures - Ricardo Semler
  • The culture at Semco is unique in the sense that there is no power-packed job titles; employees including top managers themselves do the photocopying, sent faxes, typed letters, and make and receive phone calls. There are no executive dining rooms, and parking is strictly first-come, first-served.
  • Organizational profits were shared with the employees and the salaries were set by the employees themselves.
  • For years, I have resisted defining Semco for a simple reason: once you say what business you're in, you create boundaries for your employees, you restrict their thinking and give them a reason to ignore new opportunities -Ricardo Semler
  • Some of the important organisational decisions like relocating a unit or acquiring a company are taken on the basis of employees' votes.
  • On their website:It is not by chance that unconventional ideas are created at this company. They are created and managed within an open management model, different from conventional models and this is exactly what we want.
  • On their website:Semco believes that it is important to meet people interested in working with Semco, even if this interest is not immediate or there are no current opportunities. So we created the program – Date Semco. 

Some of their principles and values 

  • Value honesty and transparency over and above all temporary interests
  • Seek a balance between short-term and long-term profit
  • Provide the customer with differentiated services, placing our responsibility before profits
  • Encourage creativity, giving support to the bold
  • Encourage everyone's participation and question decisions that are imposed from the top down
  • Maintain an informal and pleasant environment, with a professional attitude and free of preconceptions
  • Have the humility to recognize our errors and understanding that we can always improve 

Who would not want to work for such a company?  

I guess, at bottom we all feel motivated by freedom and are at the same time challenged to know how far we can trust not only others, but also ourselves. The leader in us says in Robert Rodriguez’s words: Only by seeking challenges can we hope to find the best in ourselves.That challenge will always be what we see as an undesired status quo in our organisations and society as well as our own character.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

See other writings by Gerhard


The self-development journey
For you

Click here for a presentation and preview of the program for yourself

For your organisation

Click here for a presentation and preview of the program for your organisation

For your coaching clients

Click here for a presentation and preview of the program for your coaching clients

Meet/contact Gerhard

Via email :

Via phone: (27) 834556513

Via skype: gervren

A short bio

New Era Leadership profile

On LinkedIn

On Coachdirectory

Leadership coaching
About coaching

Email Gerhard

or contact him on his cellphone:
27 834556513
5 Pillars of Meaningful Living

Register for the


copyright © 2013 New Era Leadership