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Challenging leadership dinosaurs


Dinosaurs thrived in ancient times, their present value only rests in museum fees; nothing more, nothing less. The present leader has a serious obligation to learn from the past, remain relevant to the present challenges and act in the future. Being significant to the current demands and challenges is the only option otherwise chances of going extinct are great.

A dinosaur is a Greek word that means “terrifying monstrous lizard.” The dinosaur’s body grew to a colossal mass, but amazingly as the dinosaurs’ bodies became enlarged, their brains remained quite small. The fact that lizards are still here today and dinosaurs are vanished suggests that the dinosaurs’ undersized brain wasn’t adequate to sustain survival of their massive bodies during times of serious environmental disturbance. I see a serious parallel to the leaders we see in business circles, spiritual set-ups, political establishments and even every other area that requires leaders.

Analogous to dinosaurs, several corporations (business or otherwise) have large bodies of administrative bureaucracies commanded by decision-making executives with small, shallow reptilian brains. Probably knowing what made dinosaurs become extinct can help leaders not to follow in their footsteps? Dinosaurs failed to change with their environment.

Leaders must likewise be one step ahead of change if ever surviving is to be guaranteed. Many leaders are physically present, but practically non-existent. This is evident from some of our parastatals, councils and corporates going extinct.

Dinosaurs of sport leadership abound in one scandal after another. Dinosaurs of political leadership exist in the promises that fade away before the speaker has finished promising heaven on earth. Dinosaurs of business exist in the many once promising entities that are collapsing right before our eyes. Amazingly, the religious fraternity is not spared as cases of rampart corruption and dealership in a manner that defies the very tenet of religion abound.

Heading into the future, no leader can afford to take comfort in complacency. A leader who cares, adapts, and delivers on their promise is called upon to deliver our entities from the doldrums of oblivion that they are heading towards. Leadership is visionary; it takes people where others can only dream of. Visionary leadership is gilded with “audacity of hope”. Indeed the nation requires hope in service delivery, from aviation to roads through water provision and finally to waste management.

A failure to adapt is a failure to survive. Leaders need to adapt or they will fail to survive. Having head knowledge is not enough.

There is every need to practicalise that knowledge and convert it into solutions that help the entities being led. What has killed this generation is a whole lot of papers, mistakenly called qualifications which people possess, that cannot be aligned with what is happening in a fast changing environment.

This explains why we tend to have shoddy services, company closures and even continued political violence. How unfortunate.

A total paradigm shift is called upon to deliver us from the evil of the past era that has bedeviled a promising future. As a leader in the twenty first century, don’t live in the past, but do everything within your capacity to give others hope of a better tomorrow and a better nation.

To remain relevant, leaders need to get employees for change by involving them in the change process. Continually train, educate and inform employees and stakeholders of what is happening as you progress. Real leadership starts by setting a singular goal, and aligning the company’s culture to achieve that goal. The culture evolution includes new ways of organising and training employees on what their role is and what appropriate behaviour is.

Facing the realities of the twenty first entails starting with people, through process and technology and also ends with people.

Organisational alignment should be obtained from a shared vision. Listening to the sentiment of the customer is important if you are to survive. As a political leader, knowing the exact needs of the voters is critical. Forcing yourself on the constituency is by no means going to bring solutions heading into the future.

Indeed, knowing the exact requirements of the business ensures profitability. In whatever sphere of leadership, placing oneself in the shoes of the customer is what is going to deliver the results.

Develop realistic roadmaps made up of short mini-projects. Coming up with the strategies is not enough. Instead continuous monitoring is necessary to ensure that you are proceeding according to plan.

Ego-driven bosses, like the dinosaurs, are headed for extinction. Top-down management is rapidly being replaced by collaboration and inclusion in decision-making. These are good things in a country and continent in desperate need of an increase in productivity.

Don’t go by the bandwagon of extinction. Go embrace change at the speed its unfolding lest you be overtaken by events. That means that successful businesses and organisations will have to address new expectations, ways of working, and ways of motivating their people. The competition to attract and retain quality employees is accelerating. Living with the past memory of what used to work and how it is supposed to function will reduce organisations to the status of a relic.

Noah Mangwarara is a Motivational Speaker, leadership educator, and facilitator of learning. Feedback on nmangwarara@gmail.com

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