Who really picks leaders? - Preparing you for the future of work.

Who really picks leaders?

As pressure mounts on South Africa’s leader to face facts and step down, it might be worth asking ourselves who actually picks the leaders we have, whether they be political leaders, business leaders, community leaders or religious leaders. In the case of political leaders, in a democracy, the obvious answer is that the citizens pick the leader. When it comes to business leaders, one would answer that the powers that be – shareholders or boards – pick the leaders. Community leaders get picked by the communities in which they live, one would think, and religious leaders would say that they are picked by the divine being they have chosen to worship.

While all of these answers may be right to a point, they are also dead wrong. You see, the fundamental truth that no-one recognises is that, actually, leaders pick themselves.

Let me explain …

In modern day work and society, no-one ends up in a leadership against their will. So, regardless of whether others have appointed them in the end, in the beginning, those leaders picked themselves by making themselves available for whatever leadership position they chose to aspire to.

Now there’s a good side and a bad side to that. The good side is that people who have a desire to lead others to a better reality (the fundamental purpose of leadership) will stand up, make themselves available, and attempt to do just that.

The bad side is that people who have self-serving interests and a desire to exploit others for their own gain will work at getting themselves into leadership positions in order to manipulate others for their own selfish interests. No prizes for scribbling out a list of such leaders in our country.

But what does this mean for us today?

It means that, if we are to be freed from the tyranny of self-serving political leaders, a whole bunch of very courageous people across the political spectrum are going to have to pick themselves to stand up to the corrupt and the greedy. No-one can pick them unless they pick themselves.

I’m speaking from experience. During 2014 and 2015, I worked behind the scenes (yes, I picked myself), at a very senior level, in an attempt to address some of the challenges I saw coming in the country – challenges that have now arrived with a vengeance. The challenges our banks and the JSE have had to deal with (remember JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King having to climb onto the back of a truck and get lectured to by the EFF?), the challenges in tertiary education (“Feesmustfall” will be back), and union issues in the mines could all have been avoided if the right leaders had picked themselves two to three years ago.

At the time, those I met with did not see themselves as leaders. In fact, some of them said so in as many words. “I don’t think I’m the person to lead something like this,” said one of them. Some of them talked a big game (and are still talking a big game in the media) but when it came to putting their proverbial money where their mouth is, they folded.

 It is not my intention to embarrass people because they chose not to pick themselves as leaders. Rather, I am expressing the hope that the leaders who need to pick themselves now will have the vision, courage and moral strength to do so. These leaders are in all political parties, including the ruling party. I urge such leaders to hear Destiny calling them to pick themselves to save our country from those who have picked themselves to grab as much as they can, while they can.

Could I ask you a question? Is there a leadership position related to a challenge, a task, a duty that you need to pick yourself for? Others could be looking to you for help, for leadership, for guidance but, unless you pick yourself, the moment will pass and Destiny will have to look for someone else who has the vision and courage to pick themselves.

If you don’t pick yourself, you leave your company, your community and your country at the mercy of the thieves who, after they have robbed us of our money, will rob our children of their future.

If you hear the call of Destiny today to rise up and lead for the greater good of all, I urge you to pick yourself!      

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.

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