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

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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


Llifelong learning

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John F. Kennedy

 In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer

 What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.

Martina Horner

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.

Mortimer Adler

No judgments, learning space and listening carefully are my goals.

Emma Thompson

At times when we find life to be difficult and our thoughts burdensome and muddled, other people’s lives can suddenly seem to be very uncomplicated and sorted out – especially the high-flyers. It is in such times that we tend to talk ourselves down: ‘I will never be able to do that’; ‘I am not as gifted’; ‘I don’t have the same opportunities’; ‘I have reached my limit’; ‘there’s no light in the tunnel’. These thoughts obstruct us from seeing opportunities to learn something new, to become creative in our thinking, to hear the voice of our intuition and to find resolve in our spiritual lives.

Real leaders, you will agree, 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 both new ways, new wisdom to go forward with as well as new inspiration to beat 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 lacking 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. And so have you, many times in life, led yourself - and at times others without necessarily knowing it - by what you’ve done and by what you’ve said.

There are of course many areas of learning, but I believe the most difficult as well as most important is the learning within. That is, how do I need to adjust my life to sustain my being in a meaningful way, to be a better person, of more value to others and to achieve my purpose in life. I think this is the core of a person’s leadership and learning.

There is learning in observing and making sense of the changes in our world, how it influence us and what impact they will have on our future. It is in this sense that it is much more important to be a learner every day than to be perceived as a learned person. As Eric Hoffner said,In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Then there is learning that comes from listening, not only for facts, but for emotions and messages that relate to our conduct, communication and relationships in general. The real leader in you will know to allow those messages to get pass your ego defenses for they lead to growth. It is a much wanted skill in leadership to be able to create learning space, withhold judgment and listen carefully.

And then, lastly, there is learning that results from letting go of the need to control and having a quiet mind. We sometimes learn more about ourselves and life when it doesn’t come to us in words but in a belief and an experience of peace. As Paul of the Bible said: the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds. I also like what Martha Nussbaum wrote:

To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

See other writings by Gerhard



The self-development journey
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