Leadership Comment : Appointment of SAA CEO Monwabisi Kalawe

I rate Minister Malusi Gigaba fairly high as a leader and politician and enjoyed an interview with him some time back. He is streetwise and hands on.

However I cannot understand how he fell into the trap of appointing such a top and key leader and then handing him the turnaround plan. A leader worth his salt, in such a position would need to and want to be fully involved in carving out a plan for the organisation, especially one that has the difficult task of turning around the business.

And one assumes the appointed leader should understand what it takes to turn a business around, hence his input in the plan being more crucial.

It is ‘working on the plan’ that creates true buy-in by anyone, including Monwabisi Kalawe. It is ‘working on the plan’ that creates unity amongst team members and a strong relationship between leader and team.

Because acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout was heavily involved in establishing the plan it would not surprise me if he ended up as the da facto leader, the one with the relevant credibility and understanding of what exactly needs to be done; the one that cannot but believe in it because he was involved in creating it.

I think a good opportunity has gone to waste here. I am not for one moment detracting from Monwabisi Kalawe as a leader or more specifically a ‘turnaround leader’, and hope to place him on this platform soon so that he can convince South Africa that he is the right person for the challenge at hand.

My opinion may be the rule, but there is always place for the exception and one can only hope Kalawe is it.


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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)

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