JOHANNESBURG - These are murky times in South Africa and I say this with good reason. I had been subjected to a unsolicited image on my phone of a pornographic appendage of a minister who will remain nameless.
Much had been said and written about the said minister but the question that begs to be asked is why on earth had he not hung his head in shame and resigned.
It’s too late to salvage any shred of dignity that he had previously mustered. However, is it sheer arrogance, bravado or impudence that motivates him to fight rather than exit gracefully, given that the whole country is laughing at his manhood.
Nhlanhla Nene who plunged from hero to zero in an instant had the consciousness, courage and morality to apologise and exit gracefully. So what is the difference between the captured one in a proudly prone position and Nene? It has to be a special kind of leader, who despite being flawed has the moral muscle to do the right thing in the face of an abysmal error in judgement. Nene acted with consciousness despite being imperfect.
Against the backdrop of a culture of dishonest dealings, rampant corruption and global corporate scandals and fraud that has taken us to the very edge, ethical, high calibre leaders are in short supply. If we are ever to see the sun rise on the much touted mythical dawn, it is critical for our current leadership to examine the long term consequences of their actions, not only on their children and family but to their countrymen as they had vowed to serve us. It takes a special kind of leader to make the effort, to operate with care, compassion, temperance and courage to enable a different quality of being in the socio-economic and political space
How do we create this conscious leadership capacity in a country where need, greed and self -interest runs rampant? How do we create visionary leaders whose actions manifest greater good for all?
We create such conscious leaders by understanding that they are not born remarkable or extraordinary, neither are they perfect. All they have done is learnt the skills to manage their own existence, fully cognisant of their surroundings to influence, serve and better the lives of those around them.
This brings me to an extraordinary human being who was an exemplar of consciousness. A man, whose life had always been an inspiration to me, Booker T Washington. He was born into slavery in America and became free - bereft of any education. Yet when he died in 1915, he had dined with world leaders and presidents being the first black man in America to receive an honorary degree from Harvard as well as a Doctorate from Dartmouth College.
He made his life exceptional through being deeply aware of his actions. Washington not only bettered himself but fought fearlessly to better the lives and the world around him.
Like Washington, it became evident that when men and women, capable of great leadership appear on the scene, sooner or later they come to possess an influence commensurate with their greatness. They publicly hold themselves accountable for their actions and poor judgement, openly admit their flaws and accept their human weakness, show remorse and resolve to tangibly turn things around. Nene did this, not so Gigaba or the leaders of Bain, Steinhoff, McKinsey and others of their ilk who had displayed not one iota of conscious leadership.
Brenda Kali is the CEO of Conscious Companies and the Founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.