Leaders on the move: lessons in leadership philosophy and styles
The aim of the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies’ Leaders on the Move mentorship initiative, presented in association with the JSE, is to encourage upward mobility among future leaders by providing them with an opportunity to interact and learn from carefully selected business leaders.
At the most recent Leaders on the Move event, which took place in Johannesburg, a select group of budding entrepreneurs heard about the leadership philosophy and styles of three successful business leaders in the financial services sector.
Head of securities at PSG Wealth, Grant Meintjes, said trading – like teaching – is a calling. People either love it or hate it. The introduction of online trading has made stockbroking a much more competitive industry, he said.
A leader, he said, should lead by example, be approachable, knowledgeable and treat people fairly. Meintjes said he had a consultative style of leadership and described himself as goal orientated and a perfectionist. He has learnt over time to be a more effective listener and a more inclusive leader.
Don’t be afraid of asking difficult questions, he advised delegates, and make sure you understand every level of the business you are involved in. He stressed the importance of finding mentors to bounce issues and ideas off. Trying to be irreplaceable is the biggest mistake leaders make, he added.
Owen Nkomo, CEO of asset management firm Inkunzi Wealth Group, on the other hand, considers himself more an ideas kind of person and admits that he’s terrible at administration. As a result he has consciously surrounded himself with a team who address his weaknesses. Leaders, he said, need to put aside their ego in order to surround themselves with people who are good at the tasks the leaders are not good at.
Inkunzi Wealth Group has recently launched the first pure student housing fund on the JSE. Nkomo admits that the fund is the biggest career risk he’s ever taken but says it has the potential to provide a long-term solution to the shortage of student accommodation. “I’m driven by the desire to provide a solution to some of society’s most pressing problems,” he said.
Nkomo said it was important for leaders to have an objective and clear idea of the legacy they intend to leave. He urged young South Africans to look for opportunities to make a difference. “Don’t sit back and expect somebody else to solve this country’s problems,” he said. “Get involved, be vocal and be patriotic.”
His biggest mistakes have been hiring the wrong people. “Be prepared to pay for good talent, for ethical, hardworking people who will treat the business as their own.”
The final leader of the day to address delegates was Babalwa Ngonyama, CEO of Sinayo Securities, the only female owned and managed securities business in SA. The financial services sector has historically not employed as many women as men. One of Ngonyama’s key objectives, therefore, has been to employ and promote women and in the process illustrate that they can be successful in this industry.
Leadership, she said, is a huge responsibility. “As a leader your responsibility is to inspire others and to maintain a positive attitude.”
Her leadership style relies on open communication and compromise. Unlike many leaders who surround themselves only with people who will agree with them, Ngonyama encourages her team to disagree with her because “that’s the only way you grow and learn”.
As a working mother, striking a balance between work and home life is important, she maintains. “I accept that I’m replaceable at work, but I’m not replaceable as a mother and this informs my priorities,” she said.
She advised delegates to have a number of mentors, adding that mentors provide a different perspective. In addition, she said, be aware of who you choose to associate with. “You will be judged according to the company you keep. Only surround yourself with people who talk to your value system,” she advised.
Concluding the day’s proceedings, the JSE’s head of marketing, brands & events, Mpho Ledwaba, advised delegates not to automatically try to emulate other business leaders, but to cherry-pick those attributes that would work for them. He also advised young leaders to evolve their skills set in order to meet future needs.