The South African local government elections have been branded by some as the most important in South Africa since the first democratic elections took place in 1994.
This month has seen the ANC’s domination at local polling stations drop to levels not seen since Nelson Mandela took over as leader of the Rainbow Nation. South Africans who have long been disillusioned with the corruption and nepotism present in the liberation movement have officially begun to look elsewhere for delivery of basic services. The ANC has not been able to create wealth and build the local economy, focusing instead on a divisive narrative that is far removed from the message of reconciliation that bound the nation under Nelson Mandela’s respected and defining leadership.
Too little too late
This has lead to the realisation by some in the ANC that serious internal reflection is necessary, leading to the coining of the phrase “self correction” – but is this really self correction?
The Oxford dictionary defines self correction as “correcting oneself or itself without external help.” If an organisation, company or person is forced to make changes as a result of outside influences, then this cannot be defined as self correction.
Passionate supporters deciding to no longer support a movement that has served generations is the very opposite of self correction – it is enforced, reactive correction, undertaken after the fact. It lacks vision and insight and represents a serious, and material failure to take personal responsibility. It is ultimately a failure of leadership.
Self correction in business
Public office bearers should self correct before voters place their trust in another party. The same is true in business. Companies should self correct before new entrants redefine a market. Business owners should self correct before their team members, bankers and customers lose faith in them. They should be willing to make decisions, enter markets, develop products and change the way they operate before external factors force them to do so.
Reaction, rather than being celebrated, should be of great concern to shareholders and consumers as it points to a lack of vision and insight from those in leadership.
Politicians have tools at their disposal to alert them (and their conscience) to key performance metrics that allow proactive action to be taken before votes are cast. Similarly, business owners have access to tools that can provide insight into the heartbeat of their business and its overall health.
Access to insight
Xero can empower business owners to self correct by tapping into the financial heartbeat of their business. Its new reporting features and automated debtors follow up are just two features that allow business owners to measure the overall health of their business, and then adjust their strategy where necessary.
Many business owners keep their company information stored on an inaccessible server in the office or worse yet, in their accountant’s office. Business owners can, however, transform their attitude to financial reporting and/or compliance responsibilities by enabling real-time access to financial data through cloud accounting software like Xero.
Self correction is not a single event and should not be prompted by external pressure. It is a continuous process and an honest assessment of expectation versus performance. It must come with the boldness to embrace the personal responsibility that comes with leadership.
Failure to self correct in both business and politics could result in losing the support of passionate followers. Misusing the term cannot cover for a failure of leadership when the heartbeat had long been indicating that treatment was required.
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