SA’S young leaders apprehensive about current levels of leadership

Future leaders lack optimism about leadership levels within SA


The inaugural Tomorrow’s Leaders Leadership Survey (TLLS), which measures the perceptions and confidence levels among South Africa’s young leaders on various leadership issues, found that tomorrow’s leaders are rather apprehensive about the current levels of leadership in South Africa.


The 2013 TLLS revealed that the respondents surveyed displayed average confidence levels of 52% when questioned about the current leadership levels within South Africa. According to Dylan James, Director of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention, this startlingly dismal figure highlights the youth's lack of confidence in South Africa’s future leadership.


Average confidence levels of 48% were also recorded amongst respondents when asked about South Africa’s future industry leaders being capable and prepared for the challenges that lie ahead of them.


James says that these low confidence levels highlight the urgent need for leadership direction and development within the country. “South Africa’s future leaders need to be mentored and empowered appropriately so that they are able to blossom into successful leaders. However as a country,we are unfortunately not doing enough to foster and grow the potential leaders of tomorrow.” 


This view is illustrated by the fact that the TLLS recorded average confidence levels of only 39% that South Africa’s future generation of leaders are mentored and empowered appropriately. James says that this could be linked to unsustainable practices prevalent in many South African corporations. “Long term programmes, such as skills development and training, are often side-lined for short-term benefits, when in fact these practices should be part of both private companies’ and State-Owned Entities’ long term plans.


“Mentorship programmes, for example, need to form part of a company’s annual plan. If mentorship was regarded as a vital activity for senior executives, as it is considered in Japan, confidence levels would likely increase dramatically as a mentor-mentee relationship develops mutual trust and respect, and most importantly, knowledge.”


He explains that as these future leaders will ultimately succeed the present generation of leaders, it is vital that the public and private sector have effective methods in place to ensure South Africa’s future industry leaders are groomed appropriately and are capable and prepared for the challenges ahead of them.


Average confidence levels of 33% were recorded with regards to whether there are a sufficient amount of females occupying leadership roles within South Africa. James says that while women are increasingly getting involved in the workplace, gender diversity amongst leaders continues to be a concern. “Research has proven that businesses with a high percentage of females on their boards tend to outperform their competition, yet businesses are still hesitant to develop women leaders.”


As part of the research conducted by Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention, respondents were also questioned on their views on various issues affecting leadership within the country. 


According to those surveyed, the main challenges preventing future leaders from succeeding in South Africa over the next 12 months is a lack of mentorship from influential leaders (38%), unethical practices (22%) and lack of education and skills (14%).


When respondents were asked what would influence their decision to stay with their current employee, the majority, 59%, selected the opportunity for self-development and improvement above a good salary (11%). James says this substantial difference signifies the value placed on skills and leadership development. “An active and continuous approach to self-development is necessary to building a successful career, and many individuals are aware of the value training opportunities offer. Companies should look at providing a greater scope of training opportunities relevant to their employee aspirations as this will ultimately result in a win-win situation for both the employee and employer.”


Respondents surveyed include members of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Fellowship, which consist of past participants of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention, South Africa’s annual premier leadership alumni gathering, consisting of a combination of seasoned industry and civil society leaders, SA’s corporate leaders in the making, as well as middle to senior level corporate executives from all sectors of the economy.


Now in its sixth year, the 2013 DHL Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention will be taking place on the 15 March 2013. For further information, please


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