On 7 October, we celebrate the birthday of a very auspicious South African leader, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
He has crept into the hearts and minds of many over the years – always smiling, taking great pride in the country that he calls home and sharing wise words. Not only is he a leader among leaders, and an authentic leader, but he recognises that we are actually all leaders. Desmond Tutu said “I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum”.
In the same manner, we at TowerStone recognise that all of us are leaders in our own right and that leaders lead all the time – whether they are leading well or poorly. Given the nature of social media, our actions are under the microscope now more than ever before. A knee-jerk reactionary response to someone else’s post or actions has gotten many leaders into trouble and shows a lack of emotional intelligence. Consider Helen Zille and Donald Trump – who many feel should rather avoid posting on Twitter.
Where has authentic leadership gone?
Because of the continued growth of the global community via the internet, we no longer only recognise official leaders such as Madiba, Obama or of course, Tutu for great leadership. Non-traditional leaders such as Bono have also emerged. Bono, for example, has been instrumental (pardon the pun) in encouraging global leaders to write off large amounts of debt owed by some of the poorest nations and he champions AIDS relief. Also consider 16-year-old Gretha Thunberg who has appealed to the human in millions across the world with her pleas for taking climate action seriously – for which she has even received an Alternative Nobel Prize.
What all of these leaders have in common is that they use their power for good. Tutu has also been calling on leaders not to be blinded by power, but rather recognise their roles as servants. This principle of servant leadership is fundamental to our coaching journeys. We help leaders to recognise how to use their power for good and to inspire those around them to bring their hands, minds and hearts to work – rather than being forced to do something robotically to get a pay cheque. Engaging employees to truly contribute and take ownership of their roles is a key thread through all of our offerings.
As the patron of the African Leadership Institute, Tutu recognises the fundamental importance of authentic leadership development to not only make a better country, but a better world. He calls on us “to be the generation that drives the transformation of Africa”. Through the Tutu Leadership Fellowship he “particularly look(s) to the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to be at the forefront of change”. By providing a safe space for leaders to learn and develop together, we support such development through empowering leaders to show up in a manner that benefits the organisation as a whole – irrespective of their leadership level. This supports Desmond Tutu’s appeal to develop leaders – in this instance within the organisation and the communities in which they serve.
No matter what the year ahead holds for him, there is no doubt that we will continue hearing Tutu’s endearing laughter trailing as he goes about inspiring individuals and nations to be better versions of themselves. As he wrote in his book entitled No Future Without Forgiveness: “…my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”.