TRUE MARK OF CONSCIOUS LEADERSHIP
THESE are murky times in South Africa and I say this with good reason. I have been subjected to an unsolicited image on my phone of a pornographic appendage of a minister who will remain nameless.
Much has been said and written about the minister but the question that begs to be asked is why he has not resigned. Is it sheer arrogance, bravado or impudence that motivates him to fight rather than exit gracefully. Nhlanhla Nene had the consciousness, courage and morality to apologise and exit gracefully. So what is the difference between the captured one in a proudly prone position and Nene? It has to be a special kind of leader, who despite being flawed has the moral muscle to do the right thing in the face of an abysmal error in judgement. Against the backdrop of a culture of dishonest dealings, rampant corruption and global corporate scandals and fraud that has taken us to the very edge, ethical, high-calibre leaders are in short supply. If we are ever to see the sun rise on the much-touted mythical dawn, it is critical for our leadership to examine the consequences of their actions, not only on their families, but their countrymen.
It takes a special kind of leader to make the effort to operate with care, compassion, temperance and courage to enable a different quality of being in the socio-economic and political space. We create such leaders by understanding that they are not born remarkable or extraordinary, neither are they perfect. All they have done is learn the skills to manage their own existence, cognisant of their surroundings to influence, serve and better lives of those around them.
This brings me to an extraordinary human being who was an exemplar of consciousness. A man, whose life was an inspiration to me, Booker T Washington. He was born into slavery and became free – bereft of any education. Yet when he died in 1915, he had dined with world leaders and was the first black man in the US to receive an honorary degree from Harvard and a doctorate from Dartmouth College.
Like Washington, when men and women, capable of great leadership appear, they come to possess an influence commensurate with their greatness. They hold themselves accountable for their actions and poor judgement and resolve to turn things around. Nene did this, not so Gigaba or leaders of Bain, Steinhoff, Mckinsey and others of their ilk who have displayed not an iota of conscious leadership.
Brenda Kali is the chief executive of Conscious Companies and founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy