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Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 15:40
Exporting skills

A fish rots from the head down. While this may not be biologically correct, its meaning is anchored in centuries of human history: that is, when an organisation, nation, or state fails, leadership is generally to blame. At the end of the day, is this the fault of leaders, or of the system that put them there?

In South Africa, political leadership has always been a controversial issue but a recent survey released by The Reputation Institute shows that South Africans are losing confidence in private sector leaders as well. This, coupled with the call for a vote of no confidence in South Africa's Presidency, endless allegations of corruption and a downgraded credit rating suggests that the way in which we choose our leaders in this modern age is fundamentally flawed.
What makes one leader better than the next? What defining characteristics set a good leader apart? The answer may lie in consciousness.
“Consciousness is the new currency,” claims Georgina Barrick, CEO and co-founder of Humanity Search and Select, a new-age executive search firm that places consciousness at the centre of its business model.
Over the past three years, Humanity has been very successful in selecting superior leadership talent in the private and public sector alike. The company's consciousness-based matching methodology has placed the current CEO of one of SA's largest state-owned enterprises as well as a large number of C-suite level leaders in JSE-listed organisations.
Barrick’s concept of consciousness may sound like esoteric mumbo jumbo but it is actually based on substantiated research conducted in 2006. Research which took a sample of 486 top US business leaders and found strong correlations between certain 'consciousness' characteristics and success.
In this case, consciousness is the collective for an important group of leadership behaviours - namely creativity, openness, trust, courage, self-awareness, confidence, intuition, and instinct.
Humanity's methods rely on assessing its candidates' CQ (consciousness quotient) and placing them in companies that match their results. This ensures that leaders with the appropriate levels of 'CQ' are placed in roles that demand these behaviours.
“Thriving in the 21st Century requires the development of new and more conscious behaviours,” says Barrick. “Leaders in today's high-change environment need additional attributes. Ones that were not relevant in the efficiency-driven 20th Century.”
According to her, both today's and tomorrow's leaders will need to adapt quickly to change. Functional capabilities like skill, knowledge and experience are still non-negotiable, but creative, intuitive and instructive decision making will determine who has the ability to come out on top and actually make a difference.
As South Africa loses confidence in many of its leaders, perhaps it is time to change the way things are done. Incorporating consciousness into leadership selection could be the answer. In a 21st Century environment, there is no margin for error and the leaders we choose will either make or break this nation. Confidence, openness, intuition, and courage reminds one of South Africa's greatest leader - Nelson Mandela. There may be something to this consciousness thing.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:26.1 1st January, 2013
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