From left to right: Conrad Sidego, the mayor of Stellenbosch, and Frik Landman, CEO of USB Executive Development.
A stable macroeconomic environment is only possible when there is peace, rule of law and stability in society. This is common knowledge, but what should be accepted and understood by all is that such a society does not come about by itself.
Leader and managers in our society with the necessary developed leadership abilities, with a well-developed character and with maturity (not only technical skills) are required to shape and influence such an environment. Society needs appropriately developed leaders to accomplish this.
Of particular importance is that the ethos of leaders be infused with the requisite wisdom and courage for their task.
Looking at Africa, and in particular sub-Saharan Africa, the continent has many natural resources (42% of the world’s resources) and a young population (460 million under the age of 24). It needs to find a way to turn this potential into sustainable wealth for all inhabiting this continent.
The so-called ‘Golden Triangle’, i.e. business, government and civil society, employs an estimated 11 million managers. These leader-managers on a daily basis deal with and make decisions about the rich natural endowments of this continent.
The sum total of their effort currently delivers the poorest continent on the globe.
Quality institutions are highly dependent on the quality of their management. Under the watchful guidance of well-educated and strategically oriented leader-managers, these institutions bring to bear the imperative of a legal and administrative framework within which public sector, private sector and civil society can turn resources into wealth for all. Without a quality institutional base, serious challenges emerge.
There rests an obligation upon the developers of leaders, such as USB Executive Development, to go beyond a calm and objective academic acknowledgment of the challenges the continent faces. We should rather express a moral outrage towards the consequences (poverty, malnutrition, corruption, etc.) of a lack of requisite leadership minds and behaviours.
The goal of developing leaders in Africa is not a panacea, neither is it a short-term issue considering the challenges and opportunities the continent is confronted with. It demands strategic clarity and focus.
Stakeholders in the African society at large are looking at leaders, existing ones and upcoming ones, hoping to see them using their abilities and power to build a better world, a better Africa. People are hoping to see leaders emerging with critical thinking, in touch with all their inner and outer realities, acting with sustained initiative and compassion, and being of service to others.
In Africa, just as anywhere else in the world, communities are increasingly looking for leaders who will step forward and commit their leadership for common good.
Participating in the strategic development of leaders implies an understanding of the interconnectedness of the needs of the continent, the abilities of leaders, the contextual realities of leaders, etc.
According to the World Economic Forum the strategic development of leaders is therefore intimately tied into the transformation of the continent. Accordingly, political leaders as well as business leaders need to understand that today, as the world is grappling with economic uncertainty, geopolitical upheaval, social tensions and humanitarian crises, trade remains a vector of peace, development, prosperity and opportunity.
Leaders in the public and the private sectors, as well as civil society, need to gain deep insight into the interconnectedness of their respective domains and how to lead and manage the tapping points in between.
Leaders in Africa, as in any other region in the world, need to be developed beyond general terms and universal principles. Their development requires, among others, a deep understanding of their context in order to connect their development with the realities of their respective peoples and hence giving meaning to their development.