3 Things Cyril Ramaphosa Has Taught Us About Leadership

Becky Leighton

Posted: May 8, 2020

Table of Contents

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the leaders of the world into dark and dangerous waters as they have had to balance public safety, economic concerns, nationwide lockdowns, travel bans, and many other interconnected factors. The strain has been immense, and some have certainly handled it better than others – among them is none other than our very own Cyril Ramaphosa. 

Ramaphosa’s response to the crisis and the decisions that he has made along the way – particularly the choice to extend the nationwide lockdown – have been praised for their sensibility, wisdom, and courage by people across the globe.  

Leaders in politics, finance, business, and management can all take a leaf out of his book, and we’re here to tell you how!


Here are the three key things that have been at the centre of President Ramaphosa’s exemplary leadership:

1.     Be Guided by Compassion

It is clear that every single step that has been taken by Ramaphosa in the COVID-19 response has been informed by deep and genuine concern for the people of South Africa. The decisions that he has had to make have been impossibly difficult, and often highly controversial because they have affected each and every South African in drastic ways. He may have made the right choices and saved thousands of lives, but that does not mean that immense pain and loss have not been felt across the country.

Among other things, businesses have had to close down, thousands of students will need to extend their studies, families have been separated by provincial borders, and the mental health of so many South Africans has been threatened.

Nonetheless, we will continue to have faith in our president, because every single call that he has made has been motivated by the sincere hope that he will be saving his people from disaster. Despite the difficulties and struggles that will be faced as a result of the lockdown stages, South Africa will survive because of Cyril Ramaphosa, and he will have the support of his nation behind him.

The Lesson: You can never go wrong if your choices are always informed by genuine compassion and concern for your employees, team, or colleagues.

2.     Be Proactive

It is undeniable that one of the biggest factors in the success of our government’s emergency response has been Ramaphosa’s proactivity. First world countries like Italy and the United States have ended up in much bigger messes than us, even with their superior budgets and healthcare systems – all because their leaders did not enforce proper policies in time. It took less than three weeks after the first COVID-19 case in South Africa for our president to announce a 21-day nationwide lockdown – as far as global responses go, South Africa has been one of the quickest. On top of this, Ramaphosa has achieved what he set out to do – current statistics show that we are, in fact, managing to flatten the curve. This will make all the difference, not because the coronavirus will die out in South Africa (that is, unfortunately, impossible until a vaccine is developed), but because we have stolen time which has allowed for the strengthening and expansion of healthcare supplies and resources. This means that even though COVID-19 will continue to spread, we are far better equipped to handle it, and thousands of patients can be treated and saved. 

The Lesson: Be swift and bold in your decision-making.

 3.     Enlist Help

Of course, Ramaphosa is not alone in his leadership – he has had the support of loved ones, parliament, his cabinet ministers, and several other institutions. Furthermore, no success would be possible without the people of South Africa – and that doesn’t just mean healthcare workers and essential goods and service providers. It also means the thousands of housewives who have made face masks for their communities, the people working in soup kitchens and feeding schemes, those fostering animals so that shelters don’t get overwhelmed – every single person who is doing his or her part to help the country. 

And so why do leaders, so often, forget that they cannot lead alone? Once a badge of authority has been placed on you, you may feel that you will appear weak or stupid if you ask for help – this could not be further from the truth. Leaders may have heightened responsibility and accountability, but that does not mean that they have to carry everything alone. The people below you may not be able to carry your burden, but together they can carry you, and make it a little lighter.  

The Lesson: A leader is never alone.

Compassion, Courage, Connection – a combination that will take you to the top and carry your employees with you.

Inspired by Ramaphosa but unsure of how to become the leader you are destined to be? Let us show you the way with our 7-week online Leadership course, where you’ll learn how to identify your leadership style, inspire your employees, formulate bold solutions, and implement them effectively.

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