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What does responsible leadership mean to you – A conversation with USB students

  • Financial Planning Programme Head
  • Jan 24 2019
9 minutes to read

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The concepts and philosophies that define a successful business leader have evolved over time to meet the needs and desires of society. Where a leader who successfully grew a company and brought in massive profits was once the ideal, this is no longer the case. Society is dealing with an ever-growing number of increasingly complex issues, such as globalisation and climate change, and this has led to an increasing demand for socially conscious leaders. A leader who demonstrates this awareness practices a style of leadership that is referred to as responsible leadership.

In this blog, we took some time to ask some of our future leaders at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) what responsible leadership means to them.

What responsible leadership means to USB students
Alvira Fisher, Christiaan Ackermann, Chris Ziady and Faith Mndzalo are full-time students studying an MBA at USB in 2018.

Alvira Fisher: I think responsible leadership is about considering society and bringing that back into business practices, and then being able to do something different with your product or your service.

Christiaan Ackermann: For me, responsible leadership is holding yourself accountable and there needs to be a moral drive to do the right thing.

Chris Ziady: To me, responsible leadership is about being authentic to yourself; it’s about being authentic to those around you, and basically about bringing out your true potential.

Faith Mndzalo: For me, responsible leadership speaks to my responsibility to be able to balance what I need to deliver on expectations on my business strategy. I need to execute in relation to that. And also being able really to balance my contribution to my people. I need to ensure that what business requires from my department is clearly articulated, translated and contextualised to the people. Being comfortable that every person knows exactly what is expected from them, and also, more importantly, how it’s expected from them.

Londiwe Buthelezi, Sinclair, and Manitha are students from the Development Finance Cohort at USB.

Londiwe Buthelezi: In my view, responsible leadership means that our leaders actually take into account the consequences of their actions. When they do business, they should know it’s not just about chasing profits, but it’s also about what it’s going to do for the communities. So it’s about where it will take us for the next generation.

Sinclair: To me, responsible leadership is about, it’s definitely about paying it forward. It’s not about the title, it’s more about the duty and responsibility to ensure that the people who are “leading”, become the best possible leaders that they can be. And responsible leadership is also ensuring that the people that you’re leading are better off than you ultimately at the end of it all. So that’s what responsible leadership is to me.

Manitha: I think it means that having compassion without compromising quality. And so, because they’re already touched on the ones that I’d have also said, but yeah, I think that’s the most important. Be compassionate about the people you’re leading, but at the same time don’t compromise quality because compassion doesn’t necessarily mean sloppy work.

Leslie Thomas is an Alumnus of USB. He had this to say about responsible leadership:

Leslie Thomas: USB prides itself that it not only wants to create responsible leaders, but leaders who are responsible to act in an ethical way, to act in a way that the business decisions are underwritten or have ethical considerations in it, and to act in a sustainable way, and not just focus on short-term profits, but look at profits, planet and people, whenever they act with business decisions.

USB doesn’t only believe in the idea of responsible leadership, we also believe in practicing what we preach. This is why our values of responsible leadership are clearly reflected in our Social Impact programmes. To learn more about how our initiatives, such as the Small Business Academy, demonstrate our belief in responsible leadership, you can visit our website and find out more.

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