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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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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Women have head start in quest for new leaders

Mosima Selekisho Director at Talent Africa

Women’s Day is a good time to share a secret … recent events give women executives a big opportunity to fulfil their potential as key contributors to corporate success as they are ideally placed to meet the growing need for a new type of corporate leader.

A spate of organisational failures and mis-steps highlights the shortcomings of power leaders (corporate kingpins who operate on some elevated plane and go unchallenged for years) and self-serving leaders (who do well personally while their operations go to the dogs).

Most women find it hard to ‘man up’ and embrace hard-driving, hard-nosed leadership styles. Now they don’t have to.

Increasing focus, worldwide and locally, falls on the advantages of servant leadership.

The concept has been discussed for more than a generation by business gurus and corporate consultants. Simply put, servant leaders are there to serve the people and the organisation. Rule through fear or hierarchy is out. Rule through shared purpose and teamwork is in.

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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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Business success is a journey, leadership is the compass

compass social signiumLeadership identification and development continues to be one of the most pressing business issues keeping executives awake at night. Every business has the same aim: success and sustainability. Established routes to this destination include competitive advantage, new technology to improve productivity and product innovation, and cost reduction to secure pricing efficiencies. Without superior leaders, none of this is possible.

Companies progress through a life cycle from seed to start-up, growth to established, expansion to mature, and then to decline and exit, or renewal through invention. In the same way, leadership identification and development progresses through a cycle.

Leadership consulting offers the most suitable answers to these current dilemmas by helping leaders to align their people strategy with their business strategy; providing scientific and objective information through assessments; designing development interventions to help leaders function at their highest potential; and then embarking on acquiring and retaining leadership talent when talent needs to be acquired and not ‘home-grown’.

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Signium Africa

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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