Learning From Others Is The Essence Of Wisdom

We learn to be good leaders by emulation and embracement of principles and behavioural models provided mostly by others who have been there. A passion to learn from life experiences and from others is a core attribute of good leaders.

The commencement of the Leadership Platform radio/internet and podcast show on Cliff Central provides a superb and freely available opportunity for incisive exposure to the thinking of top leaders and performers. We strongly recommend that the reader of this column makes use of this opportunity and encourage teams at work to do so as well.

During the past few weeks we interviewed on the show Grant Pattison, Jay Naidoo, Herman Mashaba, Zwelinzima Vavi, Vic van Vuuren, Gareth Cliff and René Otto. Each of these leaders is distinctly different and we can learn much from each of them. Over the years Leadership Platform, mainly led by Adriaan Groenewald, has conducted personal leadership conversations with probably more leaders than anybody else. Not everybody has the privilege of having face to face sessions with top achievers.

However, the new Leadership Platform initiative with Cliffcentral provides many thousands the opportunity to share our privileged experiences.

How important is it to learn from others?

We develop sound leadership attributes and wisdom by emulating the examples of people who have walked over the coal pits of life. I remember as a child watching Hindu disciples down in Isipingo walking over hot coals. To me as a child this appeared painful and impossible. However, as time went by I learnt that the impossible is always possible.

Learning from our own leaders

As examples of core lessons that we can learn from leaders who have sacrificed much to achieve great things, we mention the following universal lessons learnt from some of those mentioned above:

Zwelinzima Vavi

Zwelinzima talked frankly about many relevant topics and gave significant insight into the affairs of our country and the challenges we have to face. He also spoke frankly (and with great courage I can tell you) of the mistake he made that caused him to come tumbling own down from great heights as a prominent leader in our society and almost destroyed his future. He stated that the core lesson he learnt is that ‘nothing remains a secret for ever. It is a risk to do things behind closed doors’. I can respect and follow a man that has the courage to admit to his mistakes!

We placed the following leadership gem recently in our Leadership Platform newsletter:[divider]

Mistakes are a building block of wisdom

‘Wisdom is built upon a life time of learning experiences. Learning from our mistakes is a crucial part of those learning experiences. The inclination to refuse to admit our mistakes and learn from them is a sure sign of mental and emotional stagnation. If you and I should choose to stick to our mistakes then we are truly ‘dof’ as one of my friends calls it.’[divider]

René Otto, CEO of Miway

René shared many great principles of good leadership with us. His business is driven by inspirational values such as freedom, attitude and accountability. They also have a commendable practice of acknowledging top performers as caretakers of a samurai sword, a symbol of strength, character and quality.

René’s life to date teaches us about courage, endurance and innovation. In his personal life he has run twelve comrades and recently several iron man races. He makes a valuable comment when he says that after running so many comrades he realised that his efforts to date were very self-absorbing. He decided to rather share his efforts by serving others and since that decision he has associated his efforts with fund raising for good causes. By doing this they have raised more than a million rand that is used for good causes in in serving others.

Our country has a great need for our leaders to be less self-absorbed and to share their talents and privileges with others.

Gareth Cliff

Gareth Cliff is an amazing young man. He is quite famous in his own right for various reasons. He is extremely popular as well as unpopular in the view of others. His amazing memory and general knowledge of things around us and all over the world is quite staggering.

Gareth is criticised by some as a result of his stand against things he does not agree with. He believes in freedom of expression for all.

He has a special attribute that places him high in my personal rating of a leader. Gareth is quick to pick up positive things in people around him, quick to apologise if he is proven wrong and spontaneous in his passion for people who care and are authentic. This is a sign of a good leader. He is authentic in his own right.

Learning from those around us

To learn from others around us is an attitude. We do not necessarily learn the great lessons of life from the prominent leaders around us. Very often the most abiding lessons we learn are those we learn at home and by obedience to the high road of religious and spiritual values.

A few weeks ago René Otto gave us the following quote attributed to John Hugo: ‘The task is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it. It is already there’.

Learning from others around us however humble their position may appear to be, is the essence of wisdom.

This article appeared in the

The Workplace




Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022
Email: info@leadershipplatform.com

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Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.


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