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Improve your leadership skills

July 2021


The media has bombarded us with reports of poor performance of a number of different institutions in our country the past few months. A lack of leadership has been quoted as a reason for the poor performance. But what is leadership and what can be done to improve it?

How do you become a leader? A leader can be chosen or appointed. Or you become a leader when you decide to establish your own farming business. Being a leader provides the person with the power and authority to lead and to manage. 

Whilst attending to the management tasks of planning, organising, implementing and control of his business the owner/manager is also the leader. As leader he must take decisions, communicate, delegate work, coordinate sections, motivate his people and maintain discipline. To lead is the most important management activity. The performance of any organisation, small or large, is directly related to the quality of its leadership. A big problem is that good managers are not necessarily good leaders.

Leadership is the ability to inspire, influence and motivate others to get work/actions/tasks/activities done willingly and in good spirit to achieve specific objectives. Therefore a leader is the one to influence other people to do what needs to be done to achieve the objectives of the specific organisation. As the leader the owner/manager must set certain activities in motion especially regarding the implementing of plans. In your business you are the one to influence your employees to willingly and in good spirit do what needs to be done to achieve the objectives of your business.

When considering the so-called failures of institutions as reported, one will most commonly identify a lack of implementing plans properly as a reason. This originates from the leadership that does not succeed in influencing those responsible to implement the plans of an institution properly. 

Why can leaders not always influence people to act? Consider the following to determine a possible reason for the lack of leadership. 

A good leader has the following attributes:

  • Integrity: This is the most important quality of a good leader. Your conduct is ethical. You are honest and live what you teach. You honour your word and do what you promise. 
  • Enthusiasm and positivity: Nobody wants to follow a leader who has no drive or interest in what he is doing. You must show that you have a healthy interest in the work and others will soon follow suit.
  • A capacity for hard work. You must show a willingness to pay the price of success: long hours and hard work. 
  • Good human relation skills. You are interested in your employees’ needs and problems and make genuine efforts to improve conditions for them.
  • A sense of responsibility. You admit mistakes and do not attempt to pass the buck.
  • Confident to take decisions. You can weigh up the facts, take a decision, stand by it, and see that it is implemented.
  • Good communications skills. You know how to get the message across to ensure that misunderstanding and mistakes are eliminated.
  • Respectful other people. This is portrayed by the way you communicate and act with others. ‘Sticks and stones may break bones, but words will break hearts.’ Do not belittle an employee.

To improve your leadership, remember that as a leader, you will at times be required to make decisions that will be unpopular. You cannot satisfy everyone at all times. Be decisive, stand by your decisions, and gain the respect of others.

Resist pulling rank by telling your subordinates that you are the boss and that they must do as you say.

Show courage and persistence. Do not back down from trouble and opposition but stick to your guns and have confidence in your own convictions.

Be fair and consequent. Treat all your employees the same way especially when maintaining discipline. Favouritism is a sure way to trouble and destruction of team spirit. Treat people the way you would like to be treated.

Be genuine. If you do not know the answer to a problem, admit it. Then make sure that you get the answer as soon as possible. Trying to be a know-all will only isolate you from your employees, whereas asking for their opinions will make for better human relations and possibly better solutions. 

Publication: July 2021

Section: Pula/Imvula