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PRESS RELEASE DEVELOPING PRACTICAL LEADERSHIP MALCOLM HEWITT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SUB SAHARAN AFRICA AND INDIAN OCEAN, BARCLAYS BANK PLC
Posted Tue, 25 Oct 2005
Leadership is a critical component of the development process within a business or country. Leaders of note are those who are able to change the status quo and chart a new path into the future and take their people with them.
The world has seen a good number of such leaders. Nelson Mandela is the epitome of such leadership. He is followed by people because he does not elevate himself above them, yet has achieved greatness in his humility and humanity. Ghandi was another leader who inspired people to action through simple yet effective solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges. John F Kennedy was another, as was Mother Teresa.
In business, leadership has to reflect the senior positioning of the leader. This does not necessarily mean that they should consider themselves above their colleagues. However their seniority and leadership position should be acknowledged if they are to succeed in creating dynamic organisations.
One of the major paradoxes of leadership is that while people expect a leader to have a significant amount of self-confidence, they may be repelled by such a leader if a perception develops that he is veering towards arrogance. Therefore, good leadership calls for a balance between a lack of cantankerous arrogance and a level of humility that may not allow a leader to be decisive.
Leadership tends to be easier for people who are extroverts. Such individuals are at the centre of the party and people follow them because of the sheer force of their personality. However, there are those who are not exceptionally extrovert who have been successful leaders, for example Mbeki. While Mbeki is less extrovert than Mandela, his ability to establish systems and policy, therefore leading from the front as a hands-on manager, is a strength that has been fundamental to his dignified leadership style.
People are inclined to appreciate a leader if they perceive him as having integrity and an ability to connect with them. The important thing is they want to feel that a good person, a person of integrity, is leading them. They need to feel that he is genuine and that he is concerned about the needs of the broader populace. Within a company, that would mean being able to translate that into employee and broader organisational leadership.
It was the emphasis on simplifying the organisational message that led Barclays Bank to develop the Five Cs. These are Customer, Community, Company, Colleagues and Control. Customers of the bank need to feel that it is a trustworthy organisation. That is why it is the best bank in Africa--the customers trust us. This is a factor that applies to every business. Securing the trust and belief of customers is key to success in any enterprise.
The community is important to the bank because we believe there is a need to plough back to the people who support your business in one way or the other. It is for this reason that community investment is one of Barclays’ five Cs. Companies like Barclays can make a very significant contribution in terms of social needs such as education, HIV/AIDS and development. The company has to represent corporate integrity and consistency. Again, this is something that is of vital importance to all companies.
Colleagues within the Bank represent a great asset. For this reason, we place a lot of emphasis on looking after our colleagues, providing them with the required training and ensuring that there are opportunities for individual growth within the organisation. Clearly and simply, people want engagement and communication. They need acknowledgement when they have done well and equally, they need to know when something needs to be changed for the better. They want to feel energy, they need to feel excited about their daily working environment, the future. A good leader is able to create such an environment.
Lastly, control is essential and one needs to have the necessary systems in place in a banking environment. That contributes to the development of an organisation that has the trust of its customers and peers.
Barclays sees Africa as a continent that has excellent growth prospects. We have been in Africa for a hundred years now. We have gone through some tough times and in most instances we weathered the storms. It is about taking a long term view and investment – we have clearly demonstrated this commitment.
The bank disinvested in 1987 due to sanctions. It was renamed First National, which is currently Barclays’ opposition. Our re-entry into South Africa is an important milestone for us as we realise that South Africa is key to doing business on the African continent. We are delighted that we have completed the lengthy process of acquiring the majority stake of ordinary shares of ABSA Group Ltd., one of the most exciting business projects that we have ever undertaken in Africa.
Clearly, in all of this, leadership is and will continue to be crucial. The Eskom African Business Leaders Forum 2005, which will take place from 1st to 2nd November 2005 at the Sandton Convention Centre, will give the broad range of high-profile speakers an opportunity to contribute to overall leadership on the continent.
22 September, 2005
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