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This is my third installment on the topic of leadership and specifically the leadership characteristics necessary to achieve sector and national objectives. In the first two articles, I discussed vision and courage, respectively. South Africa has visionary leaders, in both public and private sectors, who have acted with courage during the toughest times in the sector and development of the country. However, the country remains in that descriptor of “having so much potential” for the past 10-15 years, why is this if we have such great & courageous leaders?

This question leads me to my discussion on the third trait of leadership, selflessness. What do I mean with this expression – simply put, it is the act/action of a person without regard for self-gain, but rather to benefit others. It could be a distant reference to the servant-leader. It is not my aim to cast judgement on selflessness, to its presence or lack thereof, especially on the individuals listed in my previous article. I’ll let you, the reader be the judge for yourself.

My aim with these article discussions is to highlight the characteristic for its worth in a leader and leadership.
Selflessness, in my view is an important trait given the positional power that most leaders tend to occupy and enjoy, with access to unprecedent resources. The temptation for abuse of this power is undeniable but avoidable.

Further, with the emerging trends of ecosystem concepts being adapted to business (which frankly remains misunderstood) and the adoption of digital technologies, selflessness as a leadership characteristic that prevails throughout the whole organization will be a determinant of success.

Here’s where I am going with this: there’s an increasing inevitability of stakeholder management and building of strong relationships. Successful organizations will distinguish themselves through the strengths of their relationships, where they will have contributed to the relationship for the combined benefit of [itself and] its partners in the relationships within their operating contexts. Organizations in these relationships will bring their best (A-game) for the benefit of the (relationship) system, not for what the individual organization can obtain - the sustainability of the system results in each contributor thriving, with the outcome of increasing trust within the system and reinforcing strength of the ecosystem relationships. This concept applies equally and strongly on digital platforms as well.

Therefore selflessness is evidently [going to be] the foundation of building trust with our stakeholders as business leaders. This concept can be stretched further to the perennial question of what is the role of business. Selflessness in the conduct of our mining operations, has to be part of response to that question.