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A cry for young leaders

09 January 2013, 07:17

A cry for young leaders

As I sit back and reflect over the number of articles that I have, in recent days, read about the movements of Chief Executives of many enterprises and Chairpersons of many boards, I cannot help but ponder over the concept that was first introduced to me in high school economics – “Demand and Supply”.

This a simple concept to dissect and explain but one which we sometimes fail to predict with certainty when we should and thus fail to adequately plan for those times where the demand may far exceed the supply. The perfect economic situation would be that of sufficient supply for the demand, a perfect balance.

The perfect scenario would be where there a large number of identical suppliers and demanders of the same product, where buyers and sellers can find one another at no cost and where there are no barriers preventing new suppliers from entering the market. Economists have termed this as perfect competition.

Farmers would not plant a maize crop in one season only to wait until they had fully exhausted the yield of that harvest before planting the next crop. This would clearly result in a shortage of maize. Since maize cannot be grown over night it only makes perfect sense to keep a constant supply of maize thus having a continuous cycle of planting and harvesting.

In recent weeks vacancies have emerged in various directorships and chairmanships in one too many organizations, Anglo Gold (recently filled), Anglo-gold Ashanti, Mondi, MTN, Telkom, SAA but to mention a few. These are fairly large organizations and one would think that they would have had adequate succession planning for business continuity purposes.

In South Africa there is a huge demand for black young dynamic leaders however this is not mirrored by a similar supply. There is a scarcity of these leaders in the correct form. It is my opinion that there are sufficient educated young black leaders in the economy, the challenge is that of credibility and experience. Due to the imbalance in the demand and supply mentioned above the price that the market will pay for these resources is very high thus giving birth to the nomadic behaviour of many black professionals.

This is clearly a challenge in a country that is crying for young leadership who will take our economy to new heights. This can only be resolved by commitment from all to transparent and meaningful transformation. It goes without saying that transformation will not happen without major sacrifices from some players in the economy in the short term, but these will yield growth and prosperity in the medium to long term. It also is true that there will be unhappy participants who will feel disadvantaged by this process but it is for future generations that we must make these sacrifices.

It is therefore up to all of us to make a change. The organisations must invest in its people to ensure that they groom future leaders in a condensed time, the young black educated professionals must show more loyalty and build their credibility and experience by solidifying their positions within organisations where there are opportunities of career growth and the government must monitor adherence to policies like BEE and hold those who fail to comply accountable.

It is in all our best interest to make this transition smooth and not let another 20 years pass before we see meaningful change.

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