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A Constitution of Leadership – The Acid Test

The current South African political scenario has created an opportunity for effective leadership to bring about the changes followers have clearly asked for. The acid test is to make it happen. The lack of leadership has been catapulted into the minds of many with a sense of uncertainty and concern about what is to come. The upshot turns out to be the dichotomy of power and leadership. A leadership constitution is a leader’s promise on how they plan to lead and what values they live by. It invariably affects the leaders of corporate teams and their members as well. The issue of power has been a social issue since time immemorial. Power is a neutral tool that can be used or abused. Interactions between team members can also become political and is the consequence of the ever-present nature of power. Teams armed with a clear understanding of the forces at work in their teams through effective leadership can take steps to guard against the abuse of power. The current conditions of uncertainty are conducive for people to unwittingly engage in the abuse of power to get things done in the absence of effective leadership.
The Nature of Power – Essentially power usually takes on one of two forms; Influence, the ability to persuade and encourage someone to do what is suggested and Compulsion, the ability to force someone to do what is commanded. Many believe power is vested in a position or title, granted by management or someone else that comes with authority and control, a sense of supremacy over others.
Position Power – Power is concentrated in a single centre, be it an individual or the loyalists. An irresistible option in politics. The consequence is a ‘parent-child’ culture characterised by obedience, compliance or rebelliousness. The dilemma is, due to our early childhood experiences, we all have a problem with authority, to a larger or lesser degree as a result of the parents and other authority figures in our lives at the time. It often manifest in typical reactions like resistance, resentment & revenge. Two unfortunate consequences follow; Firstly, Hypocrisy – Inducing a collective effect of hypocrisy among team members, who feel that teamwork has devolved into nothing more than an empty slogan. Decisions relating to building effective teamwork are verbalised but execution is often delayed, or conveniently postponed. People learn what they live and live what they learn. Secondly, Artificial Harmony – A climate of superficial politeness is reinforced as an operational norm. Fear lies at the bottom of this. Fear of conflict, of losing a job or being ridiculed. Rather be obedient and toe the line of authority, a consequence of position/autocratic power. It cultivates the ‘As if’ syndrome. People act as if they are committed.
Personal Power – The consequence of personal autonomy generated from within that enables us to have the courage to be real. Power is in fact inherent within each individual. Personal power is manifested by the choices you make as a result of the values you live by, the related actions you take, and the thoughts you entertain. It is available to everyone, no matter their position or title.
The Nature of Leadership – Leaders have followers, period. Effective leadership has a personal-interpersonal nature and personal power is at its base. A skill different from any other, it requires follower acceptance. In addition, leadership is not accidental; it is intentional with a definite outcome in mind as a consequence. It is transactional involving an exchange of valued entities or outcomes. It is transformational, by inspiring people to change, to aspire, to enlarge themselves. Essentially effective leaders respond to 4 key areas; to People/Interaction– the needs & wants of followers guide them; to Ideas/Analysis – their intelligence & vision guides them; to Problems/Accomplishment – challenges & obstacles that call for action guide them; to Conscience/Character – their values & convictions guide them.
Situational Leadership – Responsive to the changes of situations. Intégro has developed AI software, ‘TeaminExcel’® enabling effective situational leadership because people need attention differently at different times for different reasons. All we can really do is act in ways to create working conditions that encourage people to do what is proposed through effective leadership. People naturally resist being forced to do something against their will or better judgement, so constantly relying on position power to get things done is a poor strategy. It is the antithesis of effective situational leadership and people will leave at the earliest available opportunity.


Sources: Johan Cronjé, Specialist Coach in Organisation & Team Performance, Intégro Learning SA; Dr Miriam E. Kragness, University of Minnesota & Consultant in Industrial & Organisation Psychology