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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-INITIATIVE: To be a leader is to take the initiative to make a positive difference.
SELF-CONFIDENCE: To lead requires the confidence to take the first step and have others follow you.
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.
PERSEVERANCE: Leadership disappears when we give up and emerges when we choose to persevere when others would have given up.
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.
RECOGNITION: Leaders recognise people privately and publicly out of real appreciation for their contributions as well as personal qualities.
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.
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.
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.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE: Only by making good heart and mind connections with people can the leader hope to influence them to co-operate enthusiastically.
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.
CREATIVITY/INNOVATION: Since leaders focus on potential and imagine the future to be different, they demonstrate and encourage innovative and creative thinking.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership is by definition action in the context of relationships. To ignore relationships contradicts leadership whereas building them enhances teamwork.
SELF-MOTIVATION: The leader motivates himself with his personal vision, passion, potential and moral convictions.
CHARACTER: Leadership involves many tests of courage, resilience and morality which make strong character indispensable.
BUILDING SUPPORT: A leader must be able to build support for his ideas and direction or else fail as a leader.
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.
HONESTY/INTEGRITY: The leader is credible and ethical to the extent that his beliefs, values, attitude and behaviour forms an integrated whole.
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.
AUTHENTICITY: A leader cannot help others unless he shares himself openly and honestly.
LEADERSHIP STYLE: Different situations require different leadership styles to be effective. Good leaders are flexible and versatile in their style.
STRATEGIC THINKING: With the vision or goal in mind, leaders accept responsibility for the most effective way to achieve the vision or goal.
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.
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-AWARENESS: Self-awareness opens the door to effective communication and the leader's ability to relate to others.
COMMUNICATION: The leader's ability and commitment to communicate with clarity and appropriateness is essential to his leadership effectiveness.
TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS: Understanding the potential positive and negative effects of technology in the organisation enables the leader to balance human interests with efficiency.
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.

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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


Business and the Economy of Love


We tend in our culture to stifle the spirit - Charles Taylor

Spirituality interconnects human responsibility with dimensions of life that transcend human control - Hendrik Hart

A gift of love is not an expenditure without return, but an expenditure without a controlled, manipulated, or contracted return - James Olthuis

Dare I use the word 'love' in the context of work and business? If it is not romantic love, which in any case can complicate things in the office, is there a place for love in how we relate to co-workers, how we deal with difficult situations and people, how we think about groups different to us, the social context we work and live in and how we prepare our minds for a day's work? Is 'love' not for the church people, those who are still hippies at heart, the pacifists, the 'softies', the weak, the losers, the idealists and the emotional dreamers?

To have any chance of success in today's world you need to be hard, uncompromising, on the attack, shrewd and skilful in manipulating those who stand in your way or can open a door to more power, money and influence. For most people the above is more realistic and the obvious approach and mindset for success. That, they will say, is what they see works for the ambitious people who 'go places'.

Even in these times of emancipated women professionals it is reason and its power tactics, not the heart and not the spirit, that takes centre stage. As Charles Taylor says, we tend in our culture to stifle the spirit. But do we really still believe that our calculated thoughts will have the last word on everything? How will we evaluate modern life centuries after Rene Descartes' 'I think therefore I am'. Clearly the development of science and autonomous thinking contributed immensely to our sense of freedom and to the reasonable comfort of modern life. However, is it not true that as human beings we know that there is more to life than using our minds? Is it not true that we experience poverty of a spiritual kind? As clever as we are and able to think freely and independently, we are reminded daily of the fact that we can't control everything; that there are powers that transcend human reason and understanding; that life is still full of mystery.

We are aware that we know things in ways that transcend reason. We know more than what we think. Emotions, for instance, are vital and honourable ways of knowing. Feelings are indispensable thermometers, signals registering how we apprehend, situate, and motivate ourselves in engaging the world. We know by touch, by feel, by taste, by sight, by sounds, by smell, by symbols and by trust. Knowing by thinking is no better, no worse, than any of the other modalities. To know more fully, to know more meaningfully, we also need to be spiritually open. It is not reason that can answer our questions about what we may hope, what we can trust, how we know that life has meaning, what comfort there is in the face of despair.

With reason as our only sense-making tool to engage with the outer world, we look for logic order and try to fit everything into that order as we perceive it. As far as we are concerned, there is no reality outside of it. Life becomes a battlefield. It is always me versus anything different to, or obstructing me and my sense of order. And of course, if life is a battle it comes down to who has the most power. It is inevitable that life as a result becomes violent - if not physically, then emotionally and psychologically. Differences are seen as a threat to be denied, marginalised or annihilated. As James Olthuis says, reason not transformed by love can only totalize.

How does love make it different? In an economy of reciprocity and exchange, as is typical in business, things and people have instrumental value. They therefore can be substituted by things or people who meet the needs equally well. If seen through the eyes of love, the other person is never a mere instrument but different, incomparable and irreplaceable. As parents we discover that we express the 'same' love 'differently' to our different children because they are unique individuals. And so we are able to do with others we love. In those relationships of love we learn to appreciate differences and don't see it as a threat. We see no need to let our minds control, order and manipulate the relationships. Instead of seeking power over those we love, we become aware of having power with them.

You might say that is OK for family and friends but love has no place driving to work and no place at the office, no place in the public domain, no place when reading the newspaper or watching television and no place when discussing political and other public figures in our social gatherings. If it was indeed the case, how would we be able to exhibit love's characteristics as described in the Bible in 1 Corinthians chapter 13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. To the degree that business leaders succeed in developing a culture that upholds love as depicted by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, there will be no need to debate business integrity and business ethics. All behaviour that is truly ethical is rooted in the attitude of the heart.

If you believe in a loving God it makes sense to say 'I am loved, therefore I am' rather than 'I think, therefore I am'. If you know God's love, it is possible to love yourself and if you can love yourself, you can love others. Such love, not only at home but also at work, makes it possible to have mutual recognition, mutual empowerment and mutual freedom. Beginning with a vision of love means that domination and alienation need not be inevitable. Healing and transformation is possible even with all our differences.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

See other writings by Gerhard   


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