You are the leader you’re calling for

2012-08-25 14:05

Where was the president?

Where was the commissioner or the minister of police?

What about mine management and the chamber?

How could Julius Malema so unashamedly hijack a memorial service?

Why did adults believe a concoction of herbs could make them invincible?

Are trade unions fixated with party politics and has the common sight of fellow citizens living below the breadline inured us from the cries of the poor?

These and many other questions have been asked since what is now simply known as Marikana.

These questions betray the reality that ours is a country on autopilot.

Even those who agree with the sentiment tend to think that it is merely political leadership that is lacking, when in fact we have a dearth of leadership across sectors.

In South Africa, we have made it about men and women in suits with important offices and titles.

This is not only a role of the politicians.

It is as much a duty of civil society as it is of the business community.

It is also not only an underclass problem because its effects give birth to many other Malemas who will not waste any opportunity to exploit the real angst of the marginalised.

Leadership is not simply about how you react and how soon.

It is about setting a code that those led would voluntarily want to lead.

It is being constantly aware of the changing environment and making interventions even before they happen.

It is about empathy with the led, but still enough conviction to take them on a difficult but correct path that they might not have chosen.

Marikana tragically told the story of leadership out of sync with the sentiment on the ground and its potential as a powder keg.

Instead of pointing fingers, leaders in every sector of society need to step out of their comfort zone and ask themselves how they are contributing to the leadership economy.

It is mostly through their contribution there that we can mitigate, if not totally prevent, another Marikana.

Leadership starts with you.

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