While indulging in a conversation with an investor in Ethiopia I suggested Corporate Social Responsible (CSR) initiatives such as installing toilets in schools on behalf of the company, paying to clean the street, or other opportunities to be inclusive of the society/community they live in. And I was shocked when he proudly shared that there is nothing like a whisky for a holiday, and a pocket full of money to certain decision makers to encourage the community to embrace their international company. I was taken aback as I didn\’t expect such an educated individual to be adamant in short-cut strategies rather than building their company, the environment, the society & community they serve to last. As I was contemplating the best strategy to get the company & the individual more involved in building a society, I was yet again reminded of my challenging journey in encouraging organizations to develop CSRs that fit the community, environment & the society they serve rather than imposing a one fits all strategy. And in the years I have worked in the service of sustaining built to last business, it has been evident to me that developing Responsible Business strategies demand Responsible leaders.
In an emerging country like Ethiopia, it is evident that we need more leaders than managers. The question of \”leaders\” versus managers is an age-old argument, and I find managers are at times confusingly referring to themselves as leaders when in fact their ingrained pattern of managing hasn\’t been exposed to those that embody leadership. The main difference between managers & leaders is the way they motivate the people/team who work or follow them. The manager\’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate, while the leader\’s job is to inspire and motivate. Within the 21st century, a more well-rounded Innovative approach into leading & sustaining ones life & the organization they serve is crucial.Thus, a leader\’s role is an ability to develop, originate, inspire trust, looks to the what & why for the long run, encourages team work, are their own person, focuses on coaching/motivating/inspiring people, challenge themselves, and makes decision from a place of truth.
In my line of work, I have made a focus on developing, supporting, & encouraging Social Entrepreneurship, which is defined as Private companies or NGOs that are driven & unique members of the professional community that have identified a social challenge, need or a problem in the community, and have come up with a business venture to remedy the issue & sustain their organization. Therefore in order to successfully develop Responsible Business strategies, it calls for coaching, counseling, training & providing tools to develop Responsible Leaders that are aware and conscious of the society, environment, Industry, economy as well as are passionate about positively branding the community they serve.
In this changing global environment & business, and in addressing the changing attitudes towards protecting the natural environment, as an important concept for organizations, there is a need of the emergence of Responsible Leadership. According to the United Nations Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, responsible leadership is – \”…the art of motivating, communicating, empowering, and convincing people to engage with a new vision of sustainable development and the necessary change that this implies\” (The United Nations Global Compact and European Foundation for Management Development, 2008).
As a responsible leader, one is expected to act as a change agent when making business decisions, taking into account the interest of its shareholders as well as all stakeholders including workers, clients, suppliers, the environment, the community and the future generation.
Do you consider yourself a leader, are you a responsible Leaders? It\’s a question I pose to most of my clients as a management consultant, as I spend more time than I want to, especially in Africa, on coaching Owners, CEOs, CFOs, & COOs in order to troubleshoot & successfully implement strategies & policy framework to align with the company\’s vision & mission. Therefore one perception into their own contribution to the community they serve, the environment they live in, the company they are looking to make their living of, as well as the Industry & in effect the economy they want to impact is imperative. Clearly most feel they are leaders in one aspect of their life than others, but when it comes to running a business the identification with being a manager seems to be a more appealing response. This shift in thinking, acting and being takes a movement, which starts with me & you, how are we leading our own lives?