People are different! As a new generation CA(SA) making your way through corporate South Africa, you will experience the difference immediately. People not only look different but they are different. They act differently, behave differently and deal with exactly the same issues differently. Let’s just be honest, it’s confusing.

The key to managing and negotiating this tricky phenomenon will be your ability to read people and adapt to their social DNA. We have noticed this skill with all our successful customers. The people who succeed, succeed with people. As a new generation leader in our country, one of the most important skills you need to develop is an ability to assess people’s social DNA and engage and manage it accordingly. Working with trainee accountants, we almost always get the complaint: “Every manager wants something different, and if he/she wants the same thing, he/she wants it done differently.”

Here is on what your focus needs to be: Personality and Perception.

The 1st focus in terms of social DNA is Personality. A lot has been said about personality, the most popular assessments being the MBTI programme and the DISC programme. But here is the core of what you need to know.

Fig 1 (below right) shows that people are either more introvert or extrovert and more people or task orientated. This leaves us with four basic personality types, which have the following characteristics:

Extrovert/Task Oriented:
• Driven
• Seeks freedom from control and detail
• Fears to be controlled and micro-managed
• As a manager, delegates easily and expects results
• Enjoys a person that takes initiative
• Has a confrontational style when in conflict

Extrovert/People Oriented:
• Enthusiastic, outgoing
• Verbal – enjoys talking
• Likes change
• Fears being rejected and will have a very social style of management
• Will seek a social relationship with manager
• Enjoys working with people that are flexible
Introvert/Task Oriented:
• Follows the rules, keeps to standards
• Security and assurance, with no risk taking
• Tends to over analyze and seeks the detail and proof
• Fears irrational impulsive behaviour and will tend to micro-manage
• Enjoys people that are accurate and precise
• Needs specifics from his/her manager

Introvert/People Oriented:
• Patient, settled
• Authentic, what you see is what you get
• Motivated by stability
• Fears confrontation and change
• Seeks managers that are friendly
• Tends to get managed, even though a manager
• Sometimes too soft, a walkover with no boundaries

The key with personality is to understand your own personality and develop an awareness of how that will impact your social DNA. Then you need to use the four basic personalities and assess the people that you work with, and then answer this question: “How would they like it to be done?” If you can make that assessment and adapt to the different personality styles, you are halfway there in terms of managing a different social DNA. You will get better at this through experience, but keep at it!

The 2nd focus of social DNA is perception. People have different perceptions because of their paradigms. The word paradigm is from the Greek word “paradigma”, which means: a pattern or map for understanding and explaining certain aspects of reality. Every day you have people with different maps coming to the same office, facing the same reality, but because of their maps they interpret that reality differently.

Paradigms are formed by past experiences. We all grow up differently, even if we come from the same culture. We must become aware of the perceptions of others that work with us. Again the first step here is an awareness of your own perceptions and with what paradigms you are living and how that will affect your behaviour. We all have a distorted sense of reality and, therefore, we need to understand our own perceptions. This will lead to a greater respect and understanding for the perceptions of those with whom you work.

As a new generation CA(SA), you need to expect the social DNA of each individual that you work with to be different, some more different than others. Become aware of the differences as soon as possible, and adapt to each specific personality and each specific perception.

Adel du Plessis CA(SA), is a qualified Authentic Image & Life Coach and Hermann du Plessis is a Business & Leadership Coach. They are both part of Therapia, a coaching, training and consulting business that is passionate about the human capital development of corporate companies and individuals through emotional intelligence, leadership development, authentic image and presence.




Relational Currency

“What you sow – you will reap.” “Karma”
“Invest wisely – earn the best interest”
In business relationships, the above dynamics of currency are true. The smallest act of kindness or unkindness can have a significant effect on the people with whom you work. As a New Gen CA(SA), it is important to know that your return on your investment in relationships is far more valuable than financial return on your Annual Financial Statement. Let me illustrate this by the stories of two well-known men of our century, Desmond Tutu and Adolf Hitler.

The African Bishop, Desmond Tutu, was once asked why he became an Anglican rather than joining some other denomination. He replied that in the days of apartheid, when a black person and a white person met while walking on a footpath, the black person was expected to step into the gutter to allow the white person to pass and nod their head as a gesture of respect.

“One day” Tutu said, “when I was just a little boy, my mother and I were walking down the street when a tall white man, dressed in a black suit, came toward us. Before my mother and I could step off the sidewalk, as was expected of us, this man stepped off the sidewalk and, as my mother and I passed, tipped his hat in a gesture of respect to her! I was more than surprised at what had happened and I asked my mother, ‘Why did that white man do that?’ My mother explained, ‘He’s an Anglican priest. He’s a man of God, that’s why he did it.’ When she told me that he was an Anglican priest I decided there and then that I wanted to be an Anglican priest too. And what is more, I wanted to be a man of God.”

Adolf Hitler’s (leader of Germany during the Second World War) life illustrates the opposite. From a secret report written by Hans Frank in 1930, Hitler’s father was the illegitimate child of Hitler’s grandmother, a cook, working for a Jewish family when she became pregnant. The family paid Hitler’s grandmother a paternity allowance from the time of Hitler’s father’s birth up to his fourteenth year. Hitler’s father was a civil servant. He was short-tempered, strict and brutal. It is known that he frequently hit the young Hitler. He was also shocked and totally disapproving when the young Hitler told him of his desire to become an artist. He wanted Hitler to join the civil service and Hitler hated him for that. His father died when Hitler was only 13. Some believe that this abusive behaviour of his father could have been the source of embarrassment and hatred for the future leader of Germany.

Hitler had never given up his dream of being an artist and after leaving school he left for Vienna to pursue his dream. However, his life was shattered when, aged 18, his mother died of cancer. Witnesses say that he spent hours just staring at her dead body and drawing sketches of it as she lay on her death bed. In Vienna, the Vienna Academy of Art rejected Hitler’s application. His drawings which he presented as evidence of his ability were rejected, as they had too few people in them. The examining board did not just want a landscape artist.

Without work and without any means to support himself, Hitler, short of money, lived as a tramp. He spent his time painting post cards which he hoped to sell and clearing pathways of snow. It was at this stage in his life that he developed his hatred of the Jewish people.

He was convinced that it was a Jewish professor that had rejected his art work; he became convinced that a Jewish doctor had been responsible for his mother’s death; he cleared the snow-bound paths of beautiful town houses in Vienna where rich people lived, and he became convinced that only Jews lived in these homes. After five years, his mind had become warped and his hatred of the Jewish people, known as anti-Semitism, had become set. Hitler called Vienna “five years of hardship and misery”. Hitler made it clear that his time in Vienna was entirely the fault of the Jewish people: “I began to hate them”.

This leader of Germany’s hatred for the Jewish people started off with the disappointment in his father’s abusive behaviour, developed into a prejudice that all Jewish people were opposed to him. And his prejudice led him to develop a deep hatred that resulted in a heartbreaking killing of millions of innocent people.

We learn from the stories of these two profound leaders that our smallest actions, even those that seem about as insignificant as a R1 coin, can change the lives of the people with whom we work, in a good or bad way. As an emerging CA(SA) leader of our country YOU have the choice of whether you want to live a life that serves only yourself or a life that serves humanity, save or break your relationships, change the outcome of wars and even affect eternity.

Investing acts of kindness when you know you will get something in return is easy. The challenge though, in all business relationships, is the uncertainty and risk that in your efforts at giving love, building, caring, sacrificing and serving, you may invest more than you receive in return.

Your paradoxical question may then be:” Why would I want to invest beyond reason?”

My simple answer is: “Inner fulfilment and return beyond reason”.

The universal challenge therefore is: “What can I do to invest beyond reason in relationships, and how can I sustain this servant attitude?”

I believe that your 1st investment goal to live by should be the “Setting the stage principle!” Your goal should be consciously to be the first to initiate the next coffee meeting, send the email, ask caring questions, arrange the discussions and phone after a long absence. The investment that you make now may not reap rewards in the short run, but it will over the long run. In his book “Winning with People” John Maxwell emphasises that we need to have a long-term view in relationships. We should invest and not expect a quick return. He mentions that he now only after 20 years, is receiving from business relationships in which he had been investing in for decades.

Your 2nd investment goal to live by should be the “Abundance principle!” Your goal should be to give abundantly of and from yourself without expecting anything tangible in return within your boundary parameters. This does not mean that you should become a people pleaser, and not have any boundaries and constantly live for approval addiction. The late Robert Greenleaf, a former AT&T executive, advocates service to others as a leader’s primary purpose. If people feel that you are genuinely interested in serving others, then they will be prepared not just to follow you but to dedicate themselves in to what you believe.

I’d like to illustrate the two investment goals by sharing a story from one of Trevor Hudson’s books. The story is about Jack Smith who was a director of a medium-sized manufacturing company where he employed about seventy people. For reasons beyond Jack’s immediate control, relationships did not go well for him. One day, in the midst of an intense labour conflict, he went into his office, sat down and said to himself:” I am not running this business well and I do not know what to do”. Jack realised that he had to create the conditions in which individuals can develop to the maximum of their capacities within the opportunities available. His company was little more than the people who worked there. If all of them were working, thinking and creating at their highest potential, the company would grow. His task, as the main influence on his company, was to develop an environment in which each human being should grow. Over months, Jack gradually made small changes that created an atmosphere in the business that helped both the employees and the company to grow. From the small changes Jack developed the following 11 guidelines that he lived by as director and that subsequently had a positive return throughout his whole company in a positive and successful manner:

• Serve those who you expect to serve you
• Consider no person inferior, but recognise his or her limitations
• Lead others by action and example
• Be humble in speaking about your accomplishments
• Teach and be prepared to be taught
• Attack unfairness from any quarter
• Believe that your employees must prosper if you are to prosper
• Seek the truth no matter who may get hurt
• Seek for wisdom and insight when you must make a decision affecting the life and future of any person
• Make your own decisions based on your own best judgment only after careful consideration has been given to all the facts
• Forgive honest mistakes where the person making the mistakes is honestly self-critical
• If people are not self-critical, they must learn to be or they can never successfully supervise others or develop to the best of their abilities.

As a New Gen CA(SA), you will have moments when you wish you could forget or change something in a relationship: right a wrong; correct a mistake; gain love, gain power; escape; flee and fight. But the reality is that relationships are messy, full of chaos and intrigue, and it is in this messiness that we find substantial growth, meaning and significance. Victor Frankl said that we are only as happy as we are in our relationships.

Scott Peck started his best seller book, “The road less travelled”, with the phrase:
Life is difficult.

I’d like to close with a slightly different phrase:

Relationships are MESSY, that is the beauty of them!

Adel du Plessis CA(SA), is a qualified Authentic Image & Life Coach and Hermann du Plessis is a Business & Leadership Coach. They are both part of Therapia, a coaching, training and consulting business that is passionate about the human capital development of corporate companies and individuals through emotional intelligence, leadership development, authentic image and presence.