We all make mistakes but the greatest of mistake is not learning from our mistakes. Mistakes only turn to lessons if we truthfully review the mistake, acknowledge our role in the mistake and commit to do things differently. The other truth is that to admit one’s mistakes requires a certain level of maturity and emotional intelligence which most people do not have especially South Africans. We are a nation which never learns from its mistakes hence we have poor leadership standards, lawlessness, continuous defence and endorsement of questionable characters, poor economy and poverty. I therefore thought it would be great for all of us to explore a skill most rare in South Africa called critical thinking and deliberate on possible lessons we can draw from this misfortune.
1. Know the ASK model for competency: When one is recruited and deemed fit for the role, there are generally three things that will be considered: Attitude, Skills and Knowledge. Skills and knowledge speak around your experience in the role, your technical abilities and attitude is about those success factors beyond your technical aptitude, your character suitability for the role. Unfortunately, political appointments will seldom be subjected to the ASK competency model and we need to ask ourselves if this still serves us in pursuit of excellence, diligence, leadership and progress.
2. Each role has its opportunity costs: Each role has its benefits and losses, being a minister will grant you opportunity to have body guards, ministerial houses, free pass to traffic but you will also be held to higher standards than civilians. You cannot just loosely talk about defending the president with your bum, or how you can pick the rand when it falls but it seems only Helen Zille is held accountable for her actions as a public servant, the others are exempted. When you are elected as an Executive Assistant for a CEO, you will have the opportunity to be fully aware of exactly everything that happens in the organisation at a cost of not being able to engage in office gossip, that comes with the package. I once worked for an organisation which was in the business of alcohol and I knew very well, that I couldn’t afford to be drinking and driving or engaging in “reckless behaviour” around alcohol.
3. You are a Brand Ambassador: Timothy Maurice speaks a lot about personal branding and I like the fact that his departing point is that we are all brands and we need to craft for ourselves what key messages/themes will come to people’s minds when our names cross conversations. People also need to understand that by being an employee of a specific organisation you become its Brand Ambassador by default. So, when you are a Minister, your actions will be reflection of your personal brand, leadership that elected you and the people you represent (remember ministers have dual employers: voters and political party involved).
4. When you think about firing someone do it: I read a leadership book where the author indicated that the good time to fire someone is when you think about it the first time, if you postpone this, what awaits you is a series of reasons that will confirm why your initial thought was the best one. We all deserve pardon at one point or the other but Gigaba has had his share of near misses. There was story about his wife talking on assisting him to get the home affairs technology in order, then there is this Gupta story, then there is that story and then there is this video, truth is he has become a leadership, social and reputational liability.
5. We need to recalibrate our leadership standards in South Africa: We have been through a lot as a country and because of that we have gotten used to such bad leadership that we no longer expect much from our leaders. We have had price collusions in private sector, corruption allegations in both private and public sector and we really need to go back and recalibrate our leadership standards. What is the vision and objectives for our South Africa and what kind of leadership will be required to achieve the two. What we also need to understand is the kind of leadership we choose is reflective of our values as society; we cannot continue to endorse questionable leaders and want socio economic development. We need to ask ourselves what message are we sending to our youth around the qualities that makes for a good leader in South Africa, the Continent and certainly the world assuming that we see ourselves beyond South Africa.
The Gigaba Saga is no laughing matter neither for him nor all of us, but if we fail to reflect on what this means, we will continue to dwell in self-inflicted recession, societal inequality, poor leadership, women and children abuse, poor infrastructure and poor service delivery because we expect nothing more from self and others.