Authentic leadership culture required for Africa to rise

As the world reels from yet another corporate governance failure via the breakdown of leadership in automotive giant Volkswagen, Nonkululeko Gobodo, renowned business woman and economic transformation activist, believes that effective leadership is what is currently lacking most in organisational culture and is ultimately what will make South Africa and the continent work.

“Although it’s clear that leadership is a world issue, it is my belief that leadership interventions both locally and across the continent is what is required for Africa to rise up and reach its full potential. Effective leadership for me comes down to authentic leadership.

“It is this kind of authentic leadership approach, that has the capacity to accelerate the economic, social and political development of the continent,” says Gobodo as she launches her new firm, Nkululeko Leadership Consulting.

For Gobodo, often overlooked is the fact that any failure in leadership not only has an impact at an organisational level but has a spin-off effect at an economic and social level.

“A leadership crisis in any large organisation generally always comes together with some sort of economic and reputational cost that can potentially impact that particular industry sector, as well as the communities in which it operates and the people it employs.

“Unfortunately it seems that the modern leader has lost sight of the fact that the organisation they work for was founded with a vision and purpose and that they have been tasked with the responsibility of delivering on or achieving this purpose.

“It seems the customer and employees have been forgotten in favour of an all-consuming focus on self-gain and improving the bottom line. As such there is a dire need to go back to the basics and reinstill morals, values and ethics back into organisational culture,” she comments.

When it comes to adopting an authentic leadership style, Gobodo says this requires the ability to act with wisdom for long term business success.

“An authentic leader is one that is true to themselves, is moral and introspective, cares more about the success of the organisation and its people, and understands and embraces the responsibility that they have been tasked with. In essence it is this type of leadership culture that will allow us as a country and continent to realise sustainable economic transformation,” she adds.









In addition to promoting authentic leadership, Gobodo emphasises the importance of enhancing the leadership capability of organisations by connecting organisational purpose, strategy and culture. Here again she cites VW as a prime example of an organisation where the culture did not support the strategy.

“An organisational culture that overlooks underhandedness and cutting corners will only serve to attract the kind of employees that subscribe to that belief system and behaviour in the work place.

“A significant barrier to organisational success today, is the lack of fit between the organisation’s aspirations, leadership capability, strategies and the underlying organisational culture and supporting structures. If these aspects are not aligned, the organisation is in effect never going to perform optimally.

“Effective leadership requires a carefully designed and successfully implemented leadership strategy. Here it is important to leverage collective leadership capabilities to ensure a coherent leadership team that acts together across boundaries to implement strategies, solve problems, respond to threats, adapt to change, and support innovation,” she explains.

Just as important for Gobodo is aligning leadership culture to organisational culture. “This ensures high employee engagement and greater customer satisfaction that goes on to create an attractive employer brand – employer of choice – that is achieving revenue growth and profitability in a sustainable manner,” she adds.

When it comes to promoting continental growth and progress, Gobodo says an important part of this comes down to leaders leaving a legacy. “Leaders need to ensure that they continue to live in the hearts of the people around them long after they are gone, leaving a positive and lasting mark on the people and organisation they lead. Authentic leaders are constantly building their legacies by adding deep values to everyone they come into contact with,” she concludes.