V o l u m e 1 • N u m b e r 3 • M a r c h 2 0 0 8
A Benevolent Dictator in Dark Africa
HIS CONNECTION TO CRG, KEN KEIS AND LEADERSHIP STYLES
by Nico Human
I lived in South Africa for the first 40 years of my life.
Africa in the ‘70s was interesting indeed. From our vantage point at the southernmost point of the continent, we perceived the North as a stark and dangerous place. With its tribal wars and resulting devastation, we called it “Dark Africa.”
History has shown only a few rules exist on this often-troubled continent: “Survival of The Fittest/Strongest/Fastest” and “Numbers Equal Survival.”
The first rule is self-explanatory; the second means you need to create a huge family of about a dozen children so a few will survive to take care of you in your old age—if you make it—and carry on the family name. With this came the African mindset of a total disregard for the value of human life.
The typical story in the media is of a country that rose from colonial powers, held democratic elections for the first time under the world’s watchful eye, and elected its first black President. For a period, the country enjoyed growth and relative prosperity. Once world media attention moved on, the true nature of African culture started to take hold.
As media attention turned to more pressing matters, the President started “dealing” with his opposition. Within a few years, he declared an election. Because few contenders were left standing and were too weak to effectively oppose his party, he was easily elected “Sole Leader.” Thus began a new dictatorship—perhaps the only viable leadership style in many parts of Africa.
If the President was a good man, the country would prosper.
If not, the destruction would be complete.
We grew up reading about one such country not far from our northern border. Malawi was run by “benevolent dictator” Dr. Hastings Banda. Here was a good man running his country with an iron fist, not tolerating any opposition and taking care of his people and building infrastructure. The country flourished under his dictatorship.
Perhaps, for that time and that place, his leadership style was exactly what was needed.
What does this have to do with CRG, you may ask.
These memories came flooding back in a recent planning session called by CRG President Ken Keis. As our staff members sat around the boardroom table to talk about where we wanted to take the company, I thought about various leadership styles.
We are at quite an exciting juncture in the history of CRG.
If we thought the meeting would be the usual SWOT analysis planning session—an examination of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats—we were mistaken! No shouting ideas at a flipchart, either.
We know Ken’s style tendencies are high A* (Affective) and B* (Behavioral). Naturally, his leadership style reflects those inclinations. He is not a leader who asks questions. He provides answers!
Ken had an epiphany the previous night when planning the meeting. He came to the conclusion that, in the best interests of the company, his leadership style should be direct, uncompromising, and based on his own value set and passion. At this time in CRG’s development, direct leadership style will help build enthusiasm in all of us. We will be united and strong—to take the company in the same direction together.
As Marketing Director, I am delighted! We had recently adopted clear vision and mission statements. We simply needed to finalize the company’s value set to take us to the next level!
Now we all know where we are going and the individual contributions we must make to grow ourselves and the company. It’s win-win all around.
For where we are right now, his leadership style is exactly what is needed.
Do you know what type of leadership qualities you possess? Can you adjust your style to a changing environment?
Find out with the Leadership Style Indicator—Self.
Do you know how others perceive your leadership skills?
Take the Leadership Style Indicator—Others.
These assessments will help you find the leadership style that is best for your situation at this stage in your career—for yourself and your company.
* If you are not familiar with these terms, take your Personal Style Indicator now! You can do it online or order a hard copy. It will open up a whole new world of opportunities for you!
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Have a great month!'Nico Human, Director of Marketing
Consulting Resource Group International
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