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What Does Leadership Mean To You?

The Meaning Of Education

“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

In the past week, I conducted an executive leadership program for one of my clients wherein I opened by the quote above. Historically, learners have possessed certain attributes. They anticipate rather than react to change. They become essential facilitators within their altered environment. They are effective advocates for principled behaviour and ethical practices. They skilfully communicate the new while they are in touch with reality and also understand the lessons of history.

As a leadership speaker, especially at an executive level, it’s so sad to continually see leaders who are so highly educated and well equipped with the knowledge to deal with the world that no longer exists. When you talk to them about the language of the new, they bring out the old leadership models that they learned at business schools which are unfortunately no longer suited for the world we find ourselves in. You know, this ever changing world of ours requires leaders that understand themselves better, not just what they were taught in business schools. You see success of any nature is about choosing not to be stagnant. It’s about continually studying future trends and being adaptive instead of being reactive, which is only acting when something happens. Leadership is about studying trends, constantly foreseeing the future, reviewing systems, inspiring and motivating people to bring out the best in them. It’s unfortunate though that most leaders in organizations are mostly caught with their pants down when it comes to these. This is mainly because they are focusing on what they already know and lose sight of what they don’t know and should know.

Success is a personal choice and reflection of one’s pride. So, your choice and your pride are the ones that keep you ahead of the curve. Leadership and how good one becomes a leader – personal and organizational, depends mostly on the visionary aspect. This is about continually building yourself, your team/s and systems for resilience and future adaptability. The tricky part about the future, however, is that you’ll never know when it will knock on your door! It may be tomorrow, a week later, few months, a year or few years down the line. What this means is that you must always keep this ‘tricky future’ in mind and prepare for it daily. You must act swiftly, effectively and appropriately.

How you lead yourself as an individual is key to achieving your dreams. Achieving your dreams depends mainly on your desires, attitude, environment and culture. This means that if you have dreams and goals you want to achieve, which I believe we must all have to stay motivated, you must be clear of what ingredients they require of you. See your dream as a dish you want to prepare and enjoy. The reality is that for you to achieve that dish, you firstly need to have a recipe that will specify the required ingredients. Different dishes require different recipes, this is key to understand. I see many people approaching different dishes with the same recipe, well, it doesn’t work that way. By the way, this approach is applicable whether you are talking about self-leadership or organizational leadership as long as there’s a dream or goal (dish) to be achieved. You see, you can’t just wing it and hope for the best nor rely on yesterday’s recipe that work well.

Alvin Toffler put it succinctly when he said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be the one who can’t read and write, but the one who cannot learn; unlearn; and relearn.” This is where we must continually draw wisdom and inspiration from. As a speaker and a coach, I focus on the science for success, not just at a motivational level but at a source level. I use science to help individuals, especially leaders, to better understand themselves and why they behave the way they do which in turn helps them get the most out of their teams and build winning organizations.

Leadership is not mainly about how many paper qualifications you have, but rather how effective and in tune with yourself. It is definitely not about memorized and mostly historical facts but rather about understanding yourself and your environment. One last thing about leadership that is very important is that leadership is not about having all the answers but your ability to tap into your team’s collective genius.

Here are the questions you should be continually asking yourself:

  1. What results do I want to achieve in my life/organization?
  2. What kind of a person must I become to produce these results?
  3. How can I become this person?
  4. What do I already have in my repertoire of skills (ingredients) to achieve this? This is taking stock.
  5. What should I learn today to become the person that will be capable of producing these results that I want?
  6. Start right away with the first step and gain momentum from there.

These are but some of the tools I use to help individuals, teams and organizations to get started on their journey to greatness.

To be a better leader, you must see yourself as an enabler and unlocker of potential and that’s what I help leaders become. Leadership is not a position but a role one must play, get this right.

Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on, or +27 83 304 9773