Are our top political leaders – Pres Cyril Ramaphosa, Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema – perceived as Authentic individuals/leaders?

I ran a poll with this question asked of three political leaders and then one other – Pres Cyril Ramaphosa, Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema: How much of an Authentic Individual/Leader do you perceive (respective leader) to be?

First, allow me to say something about why I did this, because in South Africa ones motives are always questioned simply because of the colour of one’s skin. There are far too many reasons to mention, all of which are authentic. If I wanted to make anyone in particular look bad I would have done a poll on that leader only. True Authentic Leadership is what we need in South Africa and in fact all over the world if we are going to solve our Global Leadership Crises. For the past few months I have been interviewing Leadership Experts across the world, on every continent, about the Global Leadership Crises. I have been doing it – and still am – under #GlobalLeadershipConversation1 as part of an initiative to get leadership conversations going on a global scale, in essence housed on our Global Leadership Platform we have built over almost three years – call it a social media platform for all things leadership, because the world needs it desperately. All “Experts” I interviewed concur that we have a crises. This prompted a poll, starting with our three top politicians. They need to be held accountable not only on performance but their behaviour while leading. They need to become more authentic – we all do. We need to mature as citizens and vote for Authentic Leaders.

I remember interviewing Former President Kgalema Motlanthe who said that South Africa is a nation of Activists and that that is our leadership culture. Well, I am a Leadership Activist, what can I say.

How much of an Authentic Individual/Leader do you perceive (respective leader) to be? Respondents could place their votes in one of the following four categories:

1. 70-100%
2. 50-70%
3. 30-50%
4. 0-30%

The poll was open for 24 hours. Many votes cast. Results:

Cyril Ramaphosa: 1138 Votes
1. 16%
2. 12%
3. 18%
4. 54% 

Not good. Perhaps if we had done this survey 6 months to a year earlier it would have been different. But in todays VUCA world things change fast and leaders must respond accordingly. Only 28% respondents view the President above 50% authentic. 72% are below 50%

Mmusi Maimane: 1125 Votes
1. 13%
2. 15%
3. 17%
4. 55%
Pretty much the same as the President. 28% above the 50% mark and 72% below.

Julius Malema: Approximately 1200 Votes
1. 30%
2. 13%
3. 9%
4. 48%
So this is a more complex one because of the “interference”. This first set of results were captured a couple of hours into the poll, which at that stage had about as many votes as the final total of the other two leaders.  It showed 43% respondents above 50% and 57% below. That’s significantly better than his opponents.

And then Julius retweeted to his 2.5 million followers, which clearly skewed the poll and in his case turned the numbers on its head.
Julius Malema: 7045 Votes
1. 53%
2. 11%
3. 7%
4. 29%

Someone suggested it was clever. I thought if he had retweeted the other two polls as well it would have been brilliance in motion. A quick note on his intervention. Why he did it I don’t know. His motives are his own. But he was awake and so were his followers. Both Mmusi Maimane and Cyril Ramaphosa had the same opportunity as he did. Maybe they didn’t see it or thought it’s an insignificant exercise? I don’t know. But there is an energy inside and around the EFF that most honest people – even those with opposing views – would recognize and admire, perhaps even long for.

But wait, we weren’t done. We could assume that most if not all politicians will be tainted by the general perception of politicians. However, someone suggested we do the same poll on Herman Mashaba who is of course an elected politician and Mayor of Johannesburg. I did it because my instinct told me it would be different. His result:

Herman Mashaba: 798 Votes
1. 58%
2. 15%
3. 10%
4. 17%
And this was without any intervention on his part, as far as I could tell. 73% respondents view him above 50% authentic. So maybe all politicians aren’t perceived to be the same? In the context of the current toxic political environment this is a very positive result. Is it his authentic achievements outside of politics that assists with perceptions about him? Is it his achievements as Mayor, because in general I see and hear a lot of negative comments about what’s happening in and around Johannesburg?

Please analyse these results with me and share your professional views. What does this say about them, us who vote, our future as a nation, the future of political leadership, the future of leadership in general?

How much work lies before us as Leadership Experts, Consultants, Authors, Leaders?

I want to add that there is a huge debate raging about what Authentic Leadership is. In general I think we have consensus amongst the Leadership Experts and Advisors out there. However, there are opinions that a leader could be a wicked person and still somehow be authentic. If your behaviour is in line with your deepest values you are perceived to be authentic – that’s one of many measures. If my values are selfishly just about me and my behaviours are aligned then I am authentic. For me though Authenticity is being connected to that best part inside oneself. Now, very few if indeed anyone out there will contest that when I am selfish I am demonstrating my best part. But it’s still subjective, I know.

I would be more than happy to discuss these results personally, confidentially with each of the leaders involved. And, perhaps we can discuss what can/should be done to improve the dire situation. Lets see who takes me up on the offer.

Adriaan Groenewald
Leadership Activist CEO & Co-Founder Leadership Platform
Co-Founder Think Lead – Creators of Global Leadership Platform
Global Leadership Platform:
Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.




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