When I took over the editorship of this magazine nearly two years ago, I knew I was in for some serious work, but never in my wildest dreams (after more than 20 years in the industry) could I even have imagined the journey of self-discovery and growth I was about to embark on.
Today, as we’re getting ready for the most important elections since the advent of democracy, I am signing off my last issue of Leadership, as the time has come for me to take on new challenges in the Cape Media stable.
Through Leadership, through those readers who have touched my life in some way or another, the many personalities we have featured in the magazine and an absolutely invaluable team, I have discovered my quest for leadership to be an inner search to determine another part of who I am – and what I really care about.
You have all made me realise that the art of leadership comes with the mastery of the self, and you all have made me realise that leadership is everywhere. Leadership takes place every day, and leadership can come from anyone, regardless of whether you carry the title of manager, director, CEO or editor-in-chief – those are mere titles associated with management.
And let’s not confuse management (or dictatorship for that matter) with leadership. Being a true leader transcends all that because the day we stop being a manager, director or CEO, we don’t stop being a leader. The day we start praising ourselves, as leaders, that’s when leadership ceases.
As the editor, I was challenged to define my values and principles more than ever in my quest to look deep within myself and, in turn, as it is expected of me (publishing this esteemed and insightful publication), recognise the potential of others and help them become leaders as well in another much bigger quest – that of sustainable and selfless leadership.
After all this, what is the single most important memory I will take with me as I disembark from this (leader)ship? It’s like most things in life that have meaning – it’s simple, understandable and effective. Max De Pree, acclaimed author of Leadership is an Art, put it better than I could ever dream of: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”
So, without knowing the art of serving, we will never master the art of leading. And no leader is recognised by his or her followers – leaders are recognised by other leaders ‘following’ them. That is what I will take with me.
That – and the fact that as leaders, we learn and grow more from the people we least expect to, provided we care and are prepared to serve…