VIEWPOINT: Words of Wisdom this Women’s Month

On 9 August 1956, around 20 000 women of all races marched to the Union Buildings to protest laws which restricted the movement of black people in the country. Since 1995, this march has been celebrated in South Africa as Women’s Day to recognise the significant role that women played in the struggle for freedom and democracy.

As I considered the value that women in my own life bring to the workplace, I thought it would be apt to reach out to some respected women I know and ask about their views on leadership. Here are some great responses I received.

What is the biggest mistake leaders today make?

I’ve often found that leaders don’t invest in people because they feel it’s too time-consuming, it doesn’t help achieve their end goal and because they don’t believe there’s anything in it for them. They’re wrong. Working for a leader who cares about you as an individual, simply because you’re a human being and worthy of respect, makes people feel that they matter. And when people feel this way, they will go the extra mile and beyond. This sets the leader up for success, as employees who know they are valued deliver well, so all parties benefit. This does take time and effort, but I deeply believe that the rewards are well worth the investment. Building a happy team cannot be underestimated. (Heather Osborne, CA(SA) and Head of Strategy Integration)

What advice would you share with other women looking to grow in their careers?

Be deliberate about developing your personal brand. Whether or not you’re aware of it, every action you take affects your personal brand. The way you speak and act will either move you towards or away from the reputation you want to build for yourself. So whether you’re taking up speaking opportunities, adding value to projects, or interacting with others in the workplace – obsess about excellence. By understanding that you are developing a personal brand each time you engage – not just in person, but also by email or on social media – you can make sure it’s one that you’re proud of. (Zimkhitha Saungweme, Head of Discovery Health People)

What is the most important quality for a good leader to have?

Authenticity. People follow what they trust and believe in – and impactful leadership happens when you aren’t faking it. As far as actions go, it is vital to building strong teams. Spend time every day thinking about what you can do to support the people in your team. In the end, doing this will yield the greatest returns over anything else. (Karren Sanderson, Chief Operating Officer, Discovery Health)

What is the most important quality for a good leader to have?

Authenticity. People follow what they trust and believe in – and impactful leadership happens when you aren’t faking it. As far as actions go, it is vital to build strong teams. Spend time every day thinking about what you can do to support the people in your team. In the end, doing this will yield the greatest returns over anything else.  –Karren Sanderson, Chief Operating Officer, Discovery Health

Author:  Brett Tromp CA(SA) is CFO of  Discovery Health

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