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Leadership Self-Development Journey
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you.
You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
- James Allen
SELF-REGARD: Positive self-regard is necessary for a leader in order to accept criticism, learn from it and continue leading with confidence.
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.
PERSEVERANCE: Leadership disappears when we give up and emerges when we choose to persevere when others would have given up.
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.
STRATEGIC THINKING: With the vision or goal in mind, leaders accept responsibility for the most effective way to achieve the vision or goal.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership is by definition action in the context of relationships. To ignore relationships contradicts leadership whereas building them enhances teamwork.
TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS: Understanding the potential positive and negative effects of technology in the organisation enables the leader to balance human interests with efficiency.
PASSION: The leader does not only have to have a strong sense of responsibility, but passion for the cause.
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.
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.
BUILDING SUPPORT: A leader must be able to build support for his ideas and direction or else fail as a leader.
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.
HONESTY/INTEGRITY: The leader is credible and ethical to the extent that his beliefs, values, attitude and behaviour forms an integrated whole.
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.
BUILDING TEAM: It is in the development and performance of the team that the leader's effectiveness can be seen.
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.
CREATIVITY/INNOVATION: Since leaders focus on potential and imagine the future to be different, they demonstrate and encourage innovative and creative thinking.
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.
LEADERSHIP STYLE: Different situations require different leadership styles to be effective. Good leaders are flexible and versatile in their style.
CHARACTER: Leadership involves many tests of courage, resilience and morality which make strong character indispensable.
AUTHENTICITY: A leader cannot help others unless he shares himself openly and honestly.
SELF-DISCIPLINE: The leader's self-discipline sets the standard and example for others without which consistent performance is not possible.
SELF-AWARENESS: Self-awareness opens the door to effective communication and the leader's ability to relate to others.
SELF-MOTIVATION: The leader motivates himself with his personal vision, passion, potential and moral convictions.
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.
RECOGNITION: Leaders recognise people privately and publicly out of real appreciation for their contributions as well as personal qualities.
SELF-CONFIDENCE: To lead requires the confidence to take the first step and have others follow you.
COMMUNICATION: The leader's ability and commitment to communicate with clarity and appropriateness is essential to his leadership effectiveness.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE: Only by making good heart and mind connections with people can the leader hope to influence them to co-operate enthusiastically.
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-INITIATIVE: To be a leader is to take the initiative to make a positive difference.

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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


Our free will and four levels of satisfaction

Since we are born with the mental and psychological ability to make choices, our lives will be determined mostly by what we want to do with our freedom of choice.

It is true that many of our choices are habitual and seemingly inconsequential. Choices such as what we will wear, how we will travel to work, what we will buy as present or which of the four lifts we are going to use to get to our office. Some of our innocent choices, we know, can later proof to be critical. The lift we choose can get stuck or, after an accident on the road, the choice to go to work by car rather than train was an unfortunate one. The fact that we have the ability to make choices, does not mean that we can control the future, not even the next moment. However, to be conscious of the fact that we are given the freedom and responsibility of choice in small and big matters, is all-important as an outlook on life. The less conscious a person is of the power of his choices, the less he can appreciate life as a gift and seed of potential. The less conscious he is of the power of his choices, the less intentional, focused and responsible he will be. From our choices evolve new situations and the new situations compel us again to respond with a choice.

It is our human tendency to think that we are restricted by life once we feel that our lives are not working out according to our expectations. But in reality it is by choice that we perceive something as we do. It can always be perceived differently. Many of our daily choices, particularly at work, are of a technical or analytical nature. We typically think and ask ourselves: 'what should I do and what is the best way of doing it?' or 'how am I going to find out how to do this?'. Other choices we make are of a creative nature. We have some goal, outcome or product in mind and choose different actions to make it happen. These are all typical work-related choices and they don't involve much of our character or the type of people we are. These type of choices, we feel, are an indication of how clever we are. The cleverer, the more effective or productive are our choices and the actions that follow them.

Work-type choices might seem obvious and just 'part of the deal', but the truth is that deeper level and often more important choices are always present. Choices that relate to 'why' rather than 'what' or 'how'. For instance the choice of the amount of effort I am prepared to invest in an assignment or project. Why would I put in the effort at all? It can be the combination of a number of reasons. At bottom we are driven by what would please or satisfy us at a sensual level, a level of recognition, a level of significance and a level of spirituality. It is our desires, the sense of what we need, our values and our beliefs that underpin our choices. We choose to do certain things because it will satisfy us at a sensual or physical level. We buy with our eyes, our ears, noses, taste buds and finger tips. Apart from satisfying physical needs, we make choices at this level that we feel will give us pleasure.

But then we are aware of our ego needs. The need to feel recognised for our performance. For the sake of our ego we want to feel appreciated as someone who can make useful contributions. Someone who adds value. So we base many of our choices and commitments on this need. But even when we are recognised for what we have done, we still, and even more so, want to feel recognised for who we are. We want to be recognised for significance. The need stretches further than recognition for our actions and contributions, to our being. We want to feel appreciated for everything we are in a relationship with another person or persons. So we also base many decisions on the need to feel recognised for significance. Our decisions at this level are less egoistic. There is more heart involved in building relationships of significance. It is not only about what we will receive, but also what we want to give.

There is lastly a spiritual driver for our choices. Since we are not only body and mind but also spirit, we also have spiritual needs. These needs relate to what is beyond the ego to the very reason for our existence, the purpose of our lives. It relates to what we believe in and what lies beyond the realm of the empirical world. The widest perspective we can take on anything and any situation we find ourselves in comes from our spiritual beliefs. Gratitude, for instance, is a spiritual disposition. The authentic feeling of gratitude sets a person free of his egoistic desires, even if it is only momentarily.

With the gift of our free will it is our responsibility, especially as leaders, to grow spiritually. With spiritual insight we can recognise the dangers in some of the choices available to us at the physical/sensual level as well as the ego-driven levels. With spiritual insight we are more steadfast, principled and balanced. Spiritual insight enables us to see further, understand more and put the different aspects of our lives in perspective.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

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