A Different Kind of Leader

The modern day worker cannot be deceived with promises of quick and easy solutions and a perfect world. The challenges we face at work are multidimensional. They are complex and demanding of both our cognitive and our emotional and social intelligences.  In addition, modern day life is fast-paced with relentless waves of change. In such a world, the quality of our work and our progress is more dependent on the ability to respond effectively to situations than it is to comply with rules, regulations and standards.  In essence, in a postmodern world beyond blueprints, formulas, recipes, textbook solutions and the dominance of reason, leaders in particular must have deep intuitive insight, grounded in a solid spiritual foundation of principles and values.

Equally important is the regard for relationships of all kinds and knowing how to preserve them.  Great leaders know how to balance the necessary regulations of good governance and accountability, with the creativity and skill to optimize opportunities that unlock their full potential.

Developing leaders

The above factors have a significant impact on the type of leader that is needed in business, as well as the methodology which is used to develop such leaders.  The requirement to respond in quick time but with a long term and holistic view demands leadership skill and ability at all levels of an organisation. It therefore needs to be in the vision of the leaders with the highest responsibility for the organisation to strategically build the leadership of all its employees.

The modern leader is characterised more by his insight, resolve and ability to ‘read' people and situations well than it is by his knowledge or charisma.  The development of a leader is therefore neither determined by nature (personality) nor by study and classroom training. The focus in developing a leader needs to be more experiential, learning from feedback and reflecting on inner as well as team dynamics.

Developing and building leaders should not be seen, neither be treated as an event.  Instead the development of leaders is a process which is typically not classroom training, but hands-on coaching and facilitated self-reflection.  Developing good leaders is also not a theoretical application which is done in isolation, but rather a continuous set of practical experiences which is applied in the context of teamwork.  Such development of leaders must be done in a responsive manner which meets specific and immediate challenges - it is intensive, personal and must be outcomes focused. 


A leadership development initiative will only have real and lasting outcomes if the process ensures the internalisation of new knowledge (i.e. the leader functions with new insight in what is more effective and beneficial for the whole) with regards to leading himself, leading change and leading others.

The three essential questions that leaders should be able to answer their followers convincingly are:

  1. How will you model excellence to us?  

In other words, what is you example of character, courage, integrity and personal mastery?

  1. Where will you take us?

In other words, what do you see as our destination and how we will get there?

  1. How will you engage us?

In other words, how will you create an environment of inspiration, care, growth and discipline for all of us?

To grow as a leader demands on-going introspection, reflection, listening to and learning from feedback.

Lifelong learning

Real leaders are not those who had one success story and then try to repeat it over and over again with nothing new to add. They are not those who sit back, fold their arms and declare that there is nothing left for them to learn - nothing of importance at least. To the contrary, real leaders are those people who over a lifetime were able to adjust and find new ways of applying themselves; new wisdom to go forward with, as well as new inspiration to overcome the challenges.

Indeed, as JF Kennedy realised, leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.  Not only is the ‘know it all’ attitude a sign of flawed leadership, but learning in itself is a process of leading.  The word ‘leadership’ implies the risk of going first.  It implies new territory.  It implies change.  It implies learning. 

32 Leadership principles online program - www.newlead.co.za

I developed the online program with the above philosophy on leadership.

It features the following:

  • In-depth facilitation on 32 leadership principles
  • The program can be linked to one-on one coaching (internal or external coaches) at any stage. By the end of the week participants can send their answers to the coach as input for coaching conversations.
  • The format of the program is 32 week modules, each with an introduction, an illustration, self-assessment and reflection questions, an assignment and end-of-the-week reflection questions.
  • The questions are intended to make participants think and thus help them to know themselves better in relation to the principles – they sometime require deep introspection.
  • There is a blog on each of the 32 x 5 pages to participate in discussions. The blog facility can be set for the open community, the organisation or a division of the organisation. Blog conversations among organisation members enhance the learning and building of a leadership culture.
  • There is a journal facility. This remains accessible even after the registration year (the idea being that participants can review their year’s journey again in 5 or 10 years’ time).
  • Email reminders are sent to participants to ensure momentum. A counter, as well as the date of registration, further supports monitoring and planning of engagement with the program.

Benefits of the online program

  • Self-knowledge and self-differentiation
  • Growth in self-confidence and sense of purpose and direction
  • More resilience and effectiveness in times of change
  • Improved social skills, relationships and ability to influence
  • Enjoyment and self-fulfilment on a never-ending journey of learning and developing

Some of the advantages of the program
  • Flexibility. Users engage with their development guide in their own time. There is no need to interrupt their work schedule and waste time on travelling to venues. Sitting in the train, aeroplane, waiting room, car (waiting) etc. can be very meaningful and productive time as they read and reflect on a leadership topic  
  • Relevance and appropriateness. As we know, we learn best when the timing is right. The topics are relevant to everyday living, particularly at work, but users can determine what is appropriate for them at the time. The journal will become a rich source of wisdom to revisit and reinforce what they have learned
  • When used as a corporate development inititiative it provides a framework for conversations that sensitizes people in terms of their leadership responsibilities
  • The program facilitates growth and development where it matters most: In-depth and self-reflective thinking over a long enough period of time to change behaviour.  In comparison to 2 or 3-day courses it offers a much higher return on investment

- Gerhard van Rensburg


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