Leadership going up a gear

Corporate leadership in South Africa is being redefined. A ‘safe pair of hands’ is still required, but increasingly the focus is shifting to greater dynamism. At CEO level, more and more organisations are looking for go-getters who deliver results at pace.

The change has been evident for some time but has reached critical mass in recent months as economic prospects have improved and private sector companies have sensed that opportunities for meaningful growth are at hand.

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If you want to get ahead get a pet!

executives with pets Signium Social

Pets! Who needs them?!

You do; especially if you’re a rising executive hoping to de-stress and stay healthy while achieving better work-life balance. Furry friends also help you empathise and develop your emotional IQ – soft skills that may be essential to success in a senior team.

Pet ownership can also be a plus point during job interviews as well-informed main board directors are apt to sneak in a surprise question about you and your pets. It’s not just an oddball question to probe your softer side. The benefits of pet ownership are becoming more widely known and it’s good to know whether a top candidate ticks the right pet ownership boxes.

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Corporate narcissism… SA’s secret curse

corporate narccisist Signium SocialIt is the unspoken curse stalking corporate South Africa. Few people talk about it but many executives encounter it and may be vaguely – or acutely – aware of the danger to organisations and careers.

The potentially toxic issue is corporate narcissism and its personification, the corporate narcissist.

Psychologists, consultants and corporate head-hunters have been aware of the issue for many years, though it came into sharp focus internationally following the 2008 financial crisis as the egotism of some business leaders may have paved the way to the Great Recession.

Specialists describe corporate narcissism as a corporate culture characterised by excessive pride, leading to destructive behaviour and strategies that boost personal egos rather than a company’s long-term prospects.

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Executive retrenchment becoming the new normal

surviving retrenchment

No job is safe, no future secure. That’s the new normal as executives in both the private and public sectors confront a disturbing reality – retrenchment.

Executive head-hunters are today witnessing an upsurge in the number of senior candidates who are in the job market for one reason only: recent or imminent retrenchment.

The development is not purely local. These days, international candidates with quality CVs often test the South African waters after being blindsided by retrenchment.

The drivers are fast-changing technology, tough economic conditions and belt-tightening by private companies and public services. Cost savings are substantial when ‘tall poppies’ are cut.

How should executives react to an environment in which seniority is no safeguard and delayering of organisational structures ensures some top managers, advisers and professionals will be redundant?

First, never assume ‘this can’t happen to me’. You may have good qualifications, with good relationships in place, but you can still be thrown under the bus when economic pressures mount and operational losses pile up.

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Shadow director jeopardy stalks SA advisory boards

Advisory boards seem an obvious way forward for companies run by executives with limited global leadership exposure.

One of the biggest advantages of advisory boards in South Africa is the facilitation of input and advice from wise old heads. In this way, highly respected, vastly experienced managers can make an important contribution to the company and the new South Africa.

At the same time, younger managers and business school graduates benefit from the sort of knowledge not found on an MBA course.

So, where’s the potential flaw?

The pitfall is found in the grey area between advice and direction or between a general observation and a specific instruction.  If an instruction or direction is given, an advisor may be regarded, for legal purposes, as a ‘shadow director’ and that could spell trouble for any advisor who has not taken out insurance to cover the risks run by formal boards of directors in the event of liquidation or fraud.

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Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading executive recruitment company based in South Africa offering head-hunting and leadership consulting services in sub-Saharan Africa. www.signium.co.za