COVER Leadership Edition 2023
The time is now – Stand up & be counted
Gale Sayers is famous for saying: “There comes a time when you have to stand up and be counted” This suggests someone bravely accepting a challenge of some sort. Someone who is willing to stand up in front of others when no one else will.
Is that not the essence of leadership? We are all accountable for our actions, especially as leaders of organisations. Just one of the fundamentals of successful leadership is to ensure sustainability of the organisation. That entails making uncomfortable decisions, saying unpopular things, and challenging that which might prevent sustainability.
There is another anonymous quote: “Sometimes when you stand up to be counted you get knocked down.” I recently attended a PSG seminar with Lord Peter Hain as the guest. Regarding corruption in South Africa, he said that business leaders need to stand up and speak out (be counted). We no longer have the luxury of mincing our words, of pretending to be positive, or the luxury of waiting on others to challenge the ills of our country and the ineptness and corruption of Government leaders.
It is not good enough to pretend that it will all come right if we just focus on the good things and work hard. It is not good enough, although desperately needed, to just fix what Government should be fixing, when we have already paid them to maintain our infrastructure. Will a good business leader pay a supplier that does not deliver? Will a good business leader ask his team members to do what the company has already paid a supplier to do? No, a good business leader will take the supplier to task and demand delivery. So, why not take Government to task?
In my view, as business leaders, and that goes for leaders at all levels, not just CEOs, we have three main, crucial responsibilities in fixing our beloved country:
- We must refuse being part of the corrupt and instil a strict sense of integrity and ethics in our organisations. Do not build the organisation at all costs, build it on strong ethical principles.
- Harness the resources of the business to create a better society for all. Tackle the failures of Government where desperately needed to ensure the sustainability of business and societies.
- Stand up and be counted. Be brave and stand up for what you believe in. Drive a culture of people who stand up for what is right, creating peer pressure in a positive direction. How can your staff speak out
Now is not the time to wait for others to take a stand, to make their voices heard, to use their skill and influence to change the trajectory of our country. Now is the time to stand up and be counted, to risk being knocked down, so that one day we can look back and know that we were true to ourselves, we were part of the brave who made a difference.
The time is now. What will you be doing? Sitting down or standing up?