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Updated 28 Sep 2020

Stand and command: The false-positive of leadership

Autocratic leadership is not only archaic but counterproductive to sustainable company growth because of regular employee drop-offs. Unhappy and unengaged employees directly influence the bottom line. 

Petra Laranjo , 23 March 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Did you know: 50% of employees who don’t feel valued by their boss plan to look for a new job next year. According to Harvard studies, the best leaders have the happiest, most engaged, and most committed employees.

We have all encountered the frustration of mediocre client service. The apathetic plodding along of disinterested employees is enough to make you froth at the mouth whilst desperately seeking an alternative someone who seems capable of at least addressing you with a hint of energy and fervour.

This brings me to the question – who’s at fault? The employee or employer - the business owner, manager or team leader? Look, sometimes you inherit a bad batch of detrimental learned behaviour and then it’s up to you, as a leader, to address the issue by either slogging through in the hope that you can inspire your team to move and improve or, at its worst, say your farewells.

Before we unpack some lessons in leadership, I’d like to introduce you to a person whom I greatly respect and admire for her leadership methods - so much so that I featured her in my book,‘Living On Purpose’– a business reference ‘tool kit’.  

Related: Leadership is not about you, but it’s all about you

Carol Hall is managing executive for Vodacom SA, Eastern Cape. She began her journey as a corporate sales consultant and since then, has won the regional BWASA Business of the Year Award and was a finalist inCEO Magazine’sSA’s Most Influential Woman in Business.  She also serves on the board of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the Eastern Cape Education Development Trust.

Carol’s belief is that one should lead by example and adds, “I’m a humble leader and really do care about my people - you’re only as good as your team.”

Based on her accolades and career trajectory, I think she may be onto something. Here are two lessons I’d like to highlight, based on Carol’s belief:

1. Be compassionate

Happy -employees

Autocratic leadership is an outdated notion and negatively affects your bottom-line - hardly a wise approach for business growth. Don’t be fooled by a false-positive of immediate increases in sales figures or any other deliverables. Are you employees driving sales out of fear for you or do they share a genuine passion for your vision?

The latter will yield continued and steady profits because employees will be vested in your success. The former – employee drop-offs, increased recruitment and training costs, low business morale, disconnected clients – you get the idea.

A great leader, with a clear purpose of growing his/her company, will understand the value of nurturing and investing in employee happiness. If you want your people to care about your customers, you need to start caring for your people. Consistency builds trust, respect and reliability. Your team will connect with you and trust you enough to work with as opposed to against you.    

2. Toughen up

Inevitably, things will go wrong but what’s important is that you realise that the buck stops with you. A true leader has the emotional intelligence and foresight to empower and uplift their team or, at the very least, the intellect to figure out how to go about inspiring their people to exceed expectations. What you don’t get to do sabotage them by pointing blame in their direction.

Related: Developing leadership ability

If you intend to be a leader of impact and influence, what are you doing to ensure that your team is purposefully and intently working on growing your company’s bottom line?

On that note, I’ll finish off with a compelling quote from American writer on business management practices, best known for In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters. He says, “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”

I hope that this article has reminded or encouraged you to look at your business growth through the growth of your employees. Your success depends on it. 

To order a copy of Petra’s book, ‘LIVING ON PURPOSE. THE KEY TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND IMPACT OTHERS’, visit or contact her on [email protected] / © 082 497 3347 

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About the author

Petra Laranjo

Petra Laranjo is a leading speaker and consultant in the personal branding, employee engagement and client relation management arenas. She has just completed her first book titled, ‘Living On Purpose: The Key to Change Your Life and Impact Others.’ Fourteen years of experience across corporate and entertainment industries have offered her a unique perspective in coaching the thousands of individuals in over 60 companies over the years. She has received various nominations including the FNB/ROCCI Business Woman of the Year.

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