True leaders must get to grips with the challenges of operating in an organisation and should be willing to take risks.
This was the advice from former finance minister Trevor Manuel at the launch of UCT's inaugural Leading in Public Life course. Manuel, who has the distinction of being one of the longest-serving finance ministers in the world, addressed participants at a dinner that marked the beginning of this two week residential course.
A group of 24 exceptional young Africans from five countries is taking part in the course hosted by Building Bridges, a programme of UCT's Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP). Manuel is a senior fellow of the programme.
Manuel hailed these participants for already being leaders in their respective communities before defining some of the challenges they would face as leaders. He argued that contrary to law and medicine, leadership was not something that could be learnt from a textbook.
"Leaders operate in organisations and ... sometimes these organisations are the places that help to resolve leadership challenges," he explained.
He said it was important for leaders to manage resources and that this function of a leader is frequently overlooked.
"Leaders must be able to listen, share and persuade. Strong leaders are confident in their being. You must understand the nature of risks, but unless you're prepared to take risks you might as well stay in university doing course after course on leadership," he stated.
Manuel urged the participants to base their leadership on "integrity, honesty and a commitment to serve".
UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price echoed this sentiment and advised the young leaders to always make decisions with ethical implications in consultation. "It is easier to rationalise a decision to yourself, but much harder when you have to justify it to a group of people whose judgments you respect."
Story by Abigail Calata. Photo by Je'nine May
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