Dave Macready, CEO of Old Mutual South Africa ‘Leadership Builds On Vision, Passion And Belief’

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Dave Macready, CEO of Old Mutual South Africa ‘Leadership Builds On Vision, Passion And Belief’

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“Leadership builds on vision, passion & belief” Dave Macready, CEO of Old Mutual SA http://3bl.me/qdc8v5 @OldMutualSA

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Monday, August 24, 2015 - 9:00am

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When I am asked about leadership, I immediately think of the great leaders I have known who have exuded vision, belief and passion.

Our own Madiba embodied all three these qualities, shining a light in the dark for all of us to follow and creating a passionate, contagious belief in a better, more sustainable future for all South Africans. He demonstrated that by inspiring the inner core of those he led, a great leader can define a new reality and make possible what was previously impossible or unimaginable.

Leaders with vision often come to the fore in a time of crisis, when their ability to see the bigger picture is most needed. Leaders need to see around corners and look beyond current realities to envisage a new future. They must be able to change mindsets and create belief - faith without evidence - in a better future that doesn’t exist yet.

All boats rise with a tide; leadership is only really challenged when the tide goes out. It’s in this empty space, a void etched with dark spaces where everyone looks around at everyone else and there are no obvious answers, only questions, that great leaders emerge.

As important as vision is belief. Belief in self, belief in those being led and belief in a better tomorrow.

Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York at the time of the 9/11 attacks, immediately understood this. Instinctively he knew that what a city reeling with shock needed more than anything was a unifying force: a strong, resolute, resourceful leader confident about finding solutions. He swung into immediate action to address basic needs, both physical and emotional, steering New Yorkers away from fear, grief and despair to a shared belief in their ability to overcome the crisis.

Reinforcing every great leader’s vision and belief is passion.

Passion is everything. It stems from a feeling, a feeling of being part of something, something you believe in, something bigger than yourself.

Years ago I watched a movie called ‘Any Given Sunday’ in which Al Pacino played a coach who had only a few minutes in which to motivate his exhausted team to persevere and succeed. Few things I’ve watched have been as simply passionate or powerful as the ‘Inch by Inch’ speech he delivered.

With deep commitment and raw honesty, he reignited his team’s belief in their winning skills and got them to summon all their strength, passion and fire to achieve their goal, literally in this case.

That scene struck a chord with me because of the basic truth it captures. Great leaders must connect and identify with those they lead to unleash the full power of passion, tenacity and perseverance. That connection needs to be built on reciprocal trust: every leader must engender the absolute conviction that he or she has the team’s best interests at heart, and at the same time convey the belief that the team has what it takes to deliver excellence. 

Of course, vision, belief and passion alone do not guarantee moral, ethical or servant leadership, as despots and tyrants from Hitler to Pol Pot have proved. Fine leadership, leadership that is for the greater good, requires the essential qualities of integrity, courage, humility and humanity. I think Madiba again. I think Mahatma Gandhi. I think Thuli Madonsela.

Fine leaders do the right thing even when nobody is watching. They have the courage to make hard, but necessary decisions; the courage to abandon the past; the willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn, as well as the courage to be the change they want to see – against all odds. Part of fine leadership may be inherent, but part is acquired through life’s brutal lessons in wisdom. It cannot be taught in a classroom or lecture hall.

Abraham Lincoln, one of the wisest Presidents of the United States, achieved great things by creating an exceptional culture of learning, thinking and debating. Those he surrounded himself with were the best and brightest he could find, even if their opinions diverged from his own. Importantly, he had the courage to challenge the conventions of previous generations, and to abandon them where they fell short of the principles he stood for.

South Africa faces significant challenges at this critical juncture in our history. We are a country calling out for inspiring and effective leadership - in business, in labour, in government. We are a country desperate for leaders to have the courage to engage, shift perspectives and abandon our well entrenched vested positions. Leaders who are prepared to invest in a new trust equation that brings business, labour and political leadership together to better serve the interests of a more sustainable, more inclusive South Africa. Leaders who selflessly put all South Africans’ interests at the centre of the agenda.

Learn more about Old Mutual’s approach in South Africa here


About Dave:

Dave Macready is the new CEO of Old Mutual South Africa. He is a chartered accountant and a former partner at Deloitte in Cape Town and London. After choosing to return to South Africa in 1999, he held senior executive leadership positions in Syfrets, Nedcor Investment Bank and the Nedbank Group Executive before joining Old Mutual in May.

Dave is a very keen and experienced endurance sportsman with a passion for triathlons and cycling.

Keywords: Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship | Dave Macready CEO of Old Mutual SA | Leadership | South Africa | ethical or servant leadership | leading | old mutual | passion | responsible business

CONTENT: Article