The Fellowship of Leadership Activists consist of leaders who are passionate advocates of authentic leadership. By implication they are opponents of toxic behaviour in leadership.
Defining leadership activism
By definition authentic behaviour is the honest and values driven part of all of us. Toxic behaviour is the enemy of authentic behaviour and may be defined as behaviour that is negative and destructive of self and others.
Authentic leadership may be defined in two ways:
- Authentic in the sense of being honest, truthful, believable and transparent.
- Authentic as a leader – exemplifying that part of us that enables us to move people and situations in a positive direction.
Toxic leadership may also be defined as moving situations and people, but in a negative and destructive manner.
Good leadership may be defined in many ways but the elements of authentic and toxic behaviour may be discerned in every so-called style of leadership.
A leadership activist is by definition somebody who is a passionate advocate and supporter of authentic behaviour and a committed enemy of toxic behaviour, especially in leaders (themselves included).
The imperative role of authentic leadership
The alarming trust deficit in our country is a direct result of toxic leadership and is manifesting in many forms of patronage and corruption. The needs of our society are crying out for authentic leadership at all levels. We need a fellowship of leadership activists to bring this about.
South Africa – a heritage of leadership activists
In a conversation on our Leadership Platform Show on CliffCentral.com, former SA President Kgalema Motlanthe stated that our country has a heritage of activists. We also have a heritage of exceptional leadership activists, symbolised by the honest and courageous track record of great leaders such as Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, and many others.
At Leadership Platform we connect with such authentic leadership activists almost daily; it is what we do. The present climate of corruption seems to cloud the reality that we have many, even thousands of authentic leaders who need each other’s support to combat the ravages of toxic behaviour.
Where are these leadership activists?
We find them in all sectors and activities in our country.
We find them across different political, religious and ethnic associations. They may be in competitive business organisations, or have opposing priorities, but they have much in common that is more important than their differences.
The common golden thread between them is that they are passionate about being authentic, honest and to avoid corruption like the plaque. They are also passionately opposed to toxic self interests and corruptive practices that pose as rational and acceptable, even on occasion as politically correct.
Am I such an authentic leader?
Authentic leaders are not perfect leaders! No mortal can be a perfect leader. Being authentic may be typified by some of the following attributes:
The tendency to listen and be empathetic with others, listen and learn all the time. An inclination to refuse to listen is normally an indication of toxic tendency towards a know-it-all mindset that is blind to the feelings of others.
- Values driven
The tendency to be consistent and courageous in doing the right thing and letting the consequences follow. Leaders who are inconsistent in values tend to break the delicate bond of trust and default to toxic habits.
- The ravages of discriminatory patronage
Authentic leaders are wary of patronage. When we are enriched or progress in our careers as a result of patronage we tend to become victims of patronage. Other forms of corruption tend to follow. It is not easy to turn around once we walk the path of patronage ,whether it is practiced by a political party, or to cronies, or by secret agreements. We see this enslaving challenge manifested on a daily basis in our country. As we feel forced to be loyal to our patronage benefactor, we become dishonest and avoid the light of truth and honesty.
- Judging the action not the person
Authentic leaders are committed to personal growth and maturity before they try to act as judges of others. It is one thing to combat toxic behaviour and it another thing to act as judge of the person, rather than the toxic actions of the person. When we slip into the role of Judge of the person, we may lose our humility and our humanity and become part of the toxic leadership problem.
The great authentic leadership activist question
A simple but effective key to finding out if we or others are authentic leadership activists is the degree to which we have a mindset of asking the following question in every situation:
‘How can I help move this situation in a positive direction?’
Our reaction to this question is an indication of our mindset. The question may be asked consciously or unconsciously. It is a simple and powerful tool to help us question our basic mindset towards others and life in general.
After all, if I am unwilling to ask that question in every situation, then I may question my commitment to make myself and the world a better place. Then I am probably unsuited to join the Fellowship of Leadership Activists.