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Leadership essentials

essential traits of leaders

Do you believe you have what it takes to be a great leader? Do you recognise leadership characteristics within yourself?
Most leaders are born with leadership qualities; but even so, these qualities need to be nurtured and refined in order to be executed and used to their full potential. While one can learn many effective leadership techniques, there’s another effective way to strengthen your given leadership skills – this is by practicing them each day, in every situation, and embodying the behaviour of a leader. This will train you into becoming a strong, influential individual, who leads naturally and effortlessly.

By practising these leadership qualities – in every situation, you’ll be on your way to nurturing your leadership potential:

1. Inspire and uplift

One of the key characteristics of an effective leader is the ability to drive positive change. Leaders know there are various ways to approach this challenge, but one of the most effective ways is through inspiring and uplifting those around them. This is how trust is cultivated, and it’s also the fastest way to increase the motivation of team members. It takes a strong, charismatic individual who understands the value of people, to successfully steer a team. If you want to engrain this highly effective leadership quality into your psyche, practise inspiring and uplifting those around you; whether they’re family, friends or even strangers. By exercising this characteristic early on, you’ll find it easier to step into a leadership role in the future and successfully influence your team.

2. Set attainable goals

Leaders should always set attainable goals. Without clear-cut goals there’d be no clear direction of where the team is going and what’s being worked towards – this negatively affects motivation and therefore productivity. When leading a team; attainable goals are critical as they remove fear and are easier to ‘swallow’, whereas big goals have the potential to intimidate. To learn how to set attainable goals and work towards achieving a vision, set attainable personal goals for yourself. Identify what motivates you to achieve them, and recognise the difference in your personal performance when faced with daunting long-term goals compared to attainable short-term goals. This awareness will give you a clearer indication of how most people (and your future team) would react.

3. Communicate effectively

Effective communication is a vital prerequisite for the role of a leader. A leader needs to effectively communicate with their team members so that each individual is aware of the goals, objectives and the ultimate vision. Without clear communication from the leader, team members would be oblivious to what is expected of them – which is sure to affect motivation, productivity and performance. Leaders need to act as the communication vessel between different departments, as well as carry and relay information from top management, to staff and vice-versa. To become a strong communicator, practice communicating clearly with those around you. Try to predict the questions people would ask, based on the information you’re giving them, and recognise the weaknesses in your approach, which need to be worked on.

4. Give Recognition

Leaders should give recognition where it’s due, especially if they want to positively impact motivation of team members. People want their efforts to be recognised, and it drives staff to maintain – or exceed their previous performance when their superiors acknowledge them and their hard work. To become an individual that identifies the good in others, practise giving recognition to those you see are doing their best. This will help you to quickly identify, and acknowledge your team members’ efforts in the future.

5. Balance emotion and logic

It’s important that leaders find a balance between emotion and logic. While they should display a degree of empathy, it’s important they also manage emotions to ensure a clear perspective in all situations. Leaders are usually more logical than emotional, however, decisions based solely on logic can also be fairly dangerous as there’s a higher chance of team members’ feelings being disregarded. A balance of emotion and logic is a great formula to becoming a successful leader. Learn how to find the perfect balance between the two, by becoming aware of your emotions, your actions, and the way you seek out solutions. This will give you a clear idea of which side is stronger, and therefore which side needs to be nurtured.

You know the saying: “Practise makes perfect”! Become an influential individual by practising the above leadership traits, and nurturing your leadership abilities. To become an unstoppable force in leadership, however, you may want to invest in your career potential too.

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The importance of long-term project management

long term project management

Western Cape is synonymous with beauty and splendour, from Table Mountain to the scenic Garden Route stretching along the southern Cape coast. Recently attention has been shifted to the reality of a looming Day Zero scenario. Western Cape has been battling the effects of drought since 2015, resulting in the region experiencing severe water shortages. Capetonians, nevertheless, have remained hopeful that approaching seasonal rains might alleviate some of the damage caused by the drought. Their ingenuity and communal effort have pushed out Day Zero until 2019. In such a crisis, a project management plan needs to be sensitive to resources, critical of risks, and able to identify problems at their source in order to mitigate further damage.

Safety in methodology

Acknowledging there is a problem is the first step towards finding a solution, and while it is important to provide short-term relief, a permanent solution is vital. Any project, whether long- or short-term, must first observe certain regulations that ensure the methodology used is environmentally mindful. In the case of the borehole drilling near Steenbras, ecologists cautioned that the impact could have serious consequence for neighbouring settlements. An experienced project manager does not only consider the immediate ramifications of an action, he forecasts the potential to exacerbate the problem.

The political impediment to a drought solution

Head of ETM Macro Advisors, Russell Lamberti, argues that the Cape water crisis should not be blamed on a freak drought, a lack of adequate municipal planning and resource management, and on Capetonians who “use too much water.” Ill-defined market prices, state monopoly inefficiency, and excessive demand due to under-pricing are taking a toll on the supply of usable water. Water-preserving devices have become increasingly popular with over 2,000 water management devices (WMD) installed on properties on a weekly basis. Another WMD installation program called “indigent water leaks project” allows poorer residents who agree to have the devices installed to have their debt scrapped.

A crisis cannot be postponed

South Africa will run out of water by 2030 unless there is a major shift as to the true value of water, as well as an R899 billion investment into the sector for the next decade. Experts believe that the drought could have been avoided with early warnings coming in 2007 when the Department of Water and Sanitation issued a warning about Cape Town’s water supply, explaining that by 2015 the city would need new water sources. There is a strong case to be made for experienced practitioners and reliable data, but if the political system keeps interfering with the conditions necessary to handle the crisis effectively, pushing out a deadline, we will inevitably have to confront even larger problems.