Practices that perpetuate poor leadership in South Africa


The leadership practices of South African executives have come under scrutiny, as reports of corrupt government officials continue to surface. Managers who lack proper leadership training remain at the heart of this discussion. Robashnee Naidoo explores the reasons behind this trend.

"Employees are promoted for various reasons,' says Naidoo, owner of Training and Trading for You.

In some cases workers who successfully perform their duties are promoted to management or leadership positions, whether they display leadership ability or not. To make matters worse companies fail to provide the appropriate training once the shift has taken place.

In this instance poor leadership can be attributed to a lack of judgment and support, but in other disturbing cases senior managers are directly responsible for and even intentionally choose to make damaging business decisions.

Naidoo highlights four practices that "dis-empowers ' leaders in the workplace, which are prevalent in both private and public institutions.

Corruption - This is a common reason for workplace promotions. According to Robashnee, leaders who make dishonest appointments usually do so because it is in their best interests or the interests of the syndicates with which they are associated. ".the appointment will also feed into the corruption path in order to maintain fraudulent activities, while reaping mutual benefits at the risk of other staff or the company.'

Favouritism - Appointments are made because the employee is liked, and does not challenge authority. ".this appointment is based on, I tell you what to do and you do it.' Employees are selected because of their interaction with the leader and not due to their skill set or experience level.

Nepotism - This happens when family members are appointed to roles without the relevant experience, qualifications or skills. "These appointments are usually made on the basis of trust' and to further corrupt activities says Naidoo.

Questionable interview processes are often rampant in these situations.

Intimidation - This refers to leaders who are insecure in their roles and believe that they can control others by threatening, bullying or coercing. This is the result of poor leadership skills and ignorance about how to lead people within healthy working environments. "If you always have the best interests of the business and the employees at heart you will never need to lead by intimidation,' says Robashnee.

Naidoo admits that these warped practices do have certain advantages, but warns that that these behaviours, while providing temporary benefits, cannot be sustained over a long period of time.

"Leading under these circumstances is short lived; therefore one would need to develop the correct values, morals and etiquette to remain in a leadership position.'

She emphasises the point that leaders often fail to realize the risks associated with dishonest behaviour and the legal impact it has on both the company and employee.

As a result poor leadership in South Africa is perpetuated as one generation of deceitful, unskilled leaders spawns another.

"These practices are causing reputable organisations to close their doors. It has almost become a culture in South Africa that we find these behaviours to be acceptable.'

The truth is fraudulent practices lead to stressful environments, low staff morale and low self-esteem which result in huge staff turnovers. "Employees leave because of poor leaders.'

However there is hope for leaders who are willing to learn and improve their behaviour.

"These problems can dissolve through understanding and aiding staff in their roles as professional leaders.'

The 3 day workshop Developing Excellent Leaders offered by Training and Trading for You covers issues like leadership styles, team dynamics and dealing with change. The course is designed to empower potential leaders, team leaders, supervisors and managers.

"We are fully aware that leadership roles are challenging and therefore require development.'

"Our training helps developing leaders close the gap in terms of focusing on getting the job done in a structured, process driven and systematic manner. Yet still allowing for fun and treating staff in a fair and responsible manner.'

For more information contact Training and Trading for You on 011 623 1112 or email [email protected]

By Cindy Payle - Skills Portal Journalist