Sunday World (South Africa)

Collins knows when to lead and when to follow

Debt counsellin­g firm’s leader says humility anchored her leadership

- By Kabelo Khumalo

For someone who has made it her life’s mission to help people get out of debt, National Debt Advisors (NDA) CEO Charnel Collins, walks the talk.

She says people should shy away from keeping up with the Joneses. “Stick to what you can afford. People end up in debt because they bite off more than they can chew because they needed to feel equal to their friends or family that bought new homes, did renovation­s or fancy cars. And as a young adult I learnt this lesson the hard way,” she says.

NDA was voted the best debt counsellin­g company in the country for 2020. The entity has nearly 400 well-trained members of staff who will ensure the debt review processes runs smoothly from beginning to end.

Leading one of South Africa’s leading debt counsellin­g companies comes with its own intricacie­s. Collins says her leadership style is simple: humility.

“Over the years of being in a leadership role I’ve learned that the key to having a healthy relationsh­ip with your staff is to know when to lead and when to follow. I believe in working on the ground with my team as opposed to over them and my belief that your employees are the most important part of the business has all helped me being a successful leader,” she says.

Collins says it is important for mangers to transfer skills. “I strive to have a very close relationsh­ip with my team. I encourage daily check-ins where we discuss performanc­e and employee matters. This gives them the opportunit­y to learn how to work with people, understand what makes people happy and what makes them tick.”

She regards Ezlyn Barends, the founder of Dreamgirls Academy, an empowermen­t organisati­on for teenage girls and young women, as a South African she looks up to. Like many leaders, Collins is a big fan of reading. She regards The First 90 Days by Michael D Watkins as the most consequent­ial book she has read.

“Throughout my career I have gone through many transition­s leading up to this point. This book has helped me navigate through the myriad of challenges I often faced while going through these changes.”

And when she wishes to condition her atmosphere, she listens to the mellow voice, James Blunt.

She also loves boxing, with the late former heavyweigh­t champion Muhammad Ali being her all-time favourite.

I believe in working on the ground with my team as opposed to over them

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