DURBAN – Durban has been the hot house of corporate machinations this week with JSE listed companies, pharmaceutical giant Aspen and agricultural sugar company, Tongaat Hulett taking on pariah status.
They join the ranks of Steinhoff, Transnet, Eskom and Bosasa in becoming the latest greedy establishments that throw the spotlight on failed, myopic, and morally bereft leadership. The unconscionable shenanigans of leaders who choose to loot, connive and conspire drives them on a self-destructive path that has no power to save them from the consequences of their actions.
The irony is that Aspen and its billionaire leader Stephen Saad was nominated for t he 2019 Conscious Companies Awards. They could have made it into the finals for their social impact and care initiatives as well as its leadership. Stephen Saad would have been celebrated and offered the ultimate accolade – the recognition of being a conscious leader. Sadly his fall from grace does taint his numerous achievements over the decades. It all becomes questionable and what is undetectable under the iceberg always has a way of being exposed. Even the Vatican who denied for decades the scourge of its clergy sexually abusing children and nuns cannot escape the consequences despite its outreach and legendary social impact.
We may never understand why previously principled leaders and the fallible among us slip in judgment, bend the rules and lose their values and ethics in their infatuation with power, possessions, pleasure and the need for more money, more power, more material wealth and more status or why leaders renege the way they do. It’s a global phenomenon. But it’s enough to know that those in positions of responsibility impact hundreds and thousands of lives by their very actions. Everything they do and say, the way they feel and behave, act and react shapes those who are within their sphere of influence. It is therefore imperative that those in leadership positions, regardless of who they lead, wear the mantle of responsibility that is intricately woven into the role. If they lack the capability of substance and have no sense of self – then anything can hijack their wellbeing, moral code and fragile value systems.
The hour has come for us to realise that social and economic reform is not possible without corrective action and that exceptional leaders are not born remarkable or extraordinary. They just do the right thing and have learnt the skills to manage their own existence and take responsibility, being fully responsible for their thoughts, words, actions, reactions, feelings and behavior . Their ability to respond requires them to be fully conscious of their essence and sense of self for all that they are and all that they are not.
It gives them the ability to handle their lives. That is the secret to true power as responsibility is never given – it is always taken.
In the new age of consciousness and the fourth industrial revolution we need to provide leaders with additional skills to offer value and serve, to get in touch with their purpose on the planet and to instill a level of care, compassion and courage for them to traverse their own limitations. Simply, to just do the right thing. That is what authentic, conscious leadership is about. Only then will we phase out and have no room for the twisted self- interested looters and those of the ilk of Markus Jooste, Gavin Watson, Mashila Koko and the others feeding at the trough who dare call themselves leaders.
Brenda Kali is the CEO of Conscious Companies and the Founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy. The gala event of the Conscious Companies Awards 2019 is in May.