City of Cape Town Attuned Leadership: African Humanism Leadership Development Proposal As Compass Arnold Smit By Dr Reuel Jethro KhozaYour partner in world-class Presented by Dr Reuel Jethrobusiness learning Khoza Date: 27/06/2012We Read For You:22 June 2012
1. Why The Ubuntu Perspective“Until lions have their own historians, all stories abouthunting will glorify the hunter” African proverb
2. Attuned Leadership DefinedConnectedness, compassion, integrity, humility,reasonableness and the determination to beeffective predicated on knowledgeability– what Icall a sense of efficacy – are the keys to attunedleadership: Leadership which is reflective,resonant, values-based and vision-led.
• A leader who forms deep and durable reciprocal relationships within the community or organization can step boldly into an uncertain future with the certainty that the followers will lend their support behind. Leadership is about sense and sensing, about thought and feeling, about insight into and harmony with the followership. I call this attuned leadership.
• The leader cannot stand alone but must stand with the followers, interpret for them, strive to fulfil their hopes, and be their champion in the struggles of life. Leadership is achieved, not given. The leader’s moral authority is fashioned in the encounter with community. The power to lead is the product of support for a person whose actions bespeak solidarity with the needs and aspirations of the many.
• I have come to use the term “Attuned Leadership” to describe the quality of leaders who are attuned to the hopes, expectations, fears and demands of their followers. An ethic of service lies at the heart of Attuned Leadership.
2 (a) Attuned leadership – A Universal ChallengeLeadership, however, is a universal calling. It is a featureof politics, business, civil society and family matters. Itis everywhere and it involves everyone. Those men andwomen who lead us successfully are co-ordinatorsrather than controllers. Their moral stature arises fromdedication to our cause. We admire them not becausethey are powerful; they are powerful because we makethem so, and they are admirable when they provideclear vision and positive direction. Cabinets, Boards andFoundations all need leaders. People need leaders. Butwe should never forget that leadership represents ameeting of the spirit between persons andcommunities.
3. Nature – Nurture & Attuned LeadershipLeaders are not just born to the role. They are born,then made – and sometimes unmade- by their ownactions. A leader who is not in tune with thefollowership soon becomes a leader in limbo andsooner than later withers.Former President, Nelson Mandela, never fell intolimbo as a leader. I am not likely to cite anything new inthe moments of his life that has not been highlightedpreviously in news reports, books and documentaries.What I seek to do is reconstruct the record to revealthe inner workings of attuned leadership in the handsof a master.
Throughout his political life, Mandela hasdemonstrated Aristotles principles of practicalwisdom concentrating on the common god andputting his leadership skills at the service of hisfollowers.
4. Dimensions of AttunementThe attuned leader ensures that he or she bridges the dualismsof leader and led, self and community, person and people, I amand you are, we are:• Being self –attuned as a leader and emotionally intelligent• Being attuned to the situation, knowledgeable, capable and astute.• Being attuned to the needs and aspiration of followers.• Being attuned to the needs and moral imperatives of integrity, efficacy and humility.• Being attuned to history, the present and destiny.
5.Crucial Personal Qualities• Insight: seeing the world from the followership’s vantage point and embracing their world views non- judgementally, ‘to walk in their moccasins,’ so to speak. Attuned leadership is thus passionate as it is compassionate.• Inspiration: Engendering a sense of follower self – worth, pride in current status and hopefulness in the future. In the relationship of leader and led, it is vital to strike a balance between reality and potential.• Commitment: Ardently pursuing an agreed course of action but remaining willing to be flexible and respond to changes in the environment or expectations.• Probity: Assuring the followers that the leader can be held accountable. Probity is the ethical imperative to remain upright and honest in the service of the followership, and behaving in a manner that is beyond reproach.
6. Orchestral Music as Attuned Leadership MetaphorLeadership orchestrates complexity. The metaphor of musicalharmony (including disharmony) is one that I shall pursuethroughout this book. The phrase attuned leadership anywaycontains this metaphor with all that it implies about an ensemble ofseparate players all mutually tuned to perform together. Harmonydoes not mean unison, by the way. Only a dictator demands totalunison from the subject people, using terror and propaganda toimpose conformity. Instrumentalists in an orchestra rarely harp on asingle note but instead make music from many lines of melody incounterpoint. In the same way, leadership relies on thecombination of talents in the community to deliver a commandperformance. An attuned leader seeks consensus amongst thefollowers (harmony), but will settle for sufficient consensus allowingfor some disagreement (disharmony) to be voiced as a healthy signof tolerance for differences of opinion.
My daughter Munene Khoza, as a student of the arts, helped me tofull appreciation of the metaphor when she wrote:The basic conventions of music present the ensemble with acommon language and means of cohesion. However, the role ofthe conductor extends far beyond donning the cheekily archaic tail-coat tuxedo and affording his musicians a steady beat to latch onto. It is the conductors task to use convention as a point ofdeparture from which to draw from his orchestra a performancethat is characterised by the notions of favouring the collective overthe individual and the beauty of inimitable interpretation overuninspired recitation. The invariable potential of the collective andthe journey from page to performance hinges on the conductorstalent to observe, cultivate and optimise talent in others
• Munene puts her finger on the essence of inspired leadership by contrasting dullness with “the beauty of inimitable interpretation”: there has to be something rousing in the leader’s vision to motivate a strong following.
7. The Attuned Leader and Moral AuthorityThe moral authority of the attuned leader rests squarely on thecommunity’s appreciation for the personhood of the leader.Personhood is the term to describe not just personality but theachievement of respect in the eyes of others. Those who proveto be effective leaders are individuals who seek power not for itsown sake but to be of service to their fellows. It is this that gainsthem approbation, conferring the moral worth of personhood ontheir shoulders. It is this that gives them the confidence to forgeahead knowing they have won the trust of those who yearn tobe led. It is personhood that lends leadership its being. Theattuned leader takes direction from a deep spiritual bond withthe followers and in placing himself or herself at their service isbound to be reflective, principled, and dedicated. Moralauthority can never be built on superficiality, opportunism, orlaziness.
8. The attuned Leader and Opportunity Identification.The attuned leader in today’s world sees opportunities andsolutions that others do not. But he or she also knows that thedirection to be set has to accord with what followers believe,want and need. Visions of the future ought to be congruent withthe history that has shaped people down to the present – or theleap from what is, to what could be, is likely to be an ungainlylurch that falls flat. Failure to make the connection betweenhope and achievement, between past, present and future, is alsoa failure of value-creation. Leadership can only succeed over thelonger term by sharing the values and aspirations of thefollowing, and this means being able to distinguish between thatwhich is expedient and populist, and that which is serviceableand honest. It takes insight, empathy and discipline to achieveresonance with followers – and these are the personal and groupqualities that Ubuntu promotes.
9. A Sense of Efficacy and The Attuned Leader To maintain trust over time, the leader must demonstrate efficacy – that is, show that the community’s power to change things for the better is real and that real change can and does occur. The attuned leader achieves this by: • plumbing to the heart of one’s own motivations in order to be emotionally intelligent in dealing with others; • securing consonance with the followership’s desires and disappointments, respecting their human worth, and striving to meet their needs effectively; • basing every word and act on a principled approach to problems that is informed by knowledge and study; • sharing the followership’s sense of where they came from and where they are going, their history and destiny.
10. Individualism vs. Collectivism & The Attuned LeaderWhen I was studying corporate governance as a younger man, my leadmentor – concerned about what he regarded as my woolly Africanthinking – advised me that I should reconsider my faith in Ubuntu asan intellectual framework. It was time to abandon the soft thinkinginformed by ‘I am because you are, you are because we are’ andadopt the ‘intellectually sounder and more useful’ Cartesian ‘I think,therefore I am’. For my mentor, this was the right starting point forsuccess in business and in life. Think, young man, think, he insisted.I did think and it troubled me to deny him. He shook his head kindly,but despairingly, as I clung stubbornly to my heritage and went on inmy soft and muddled way.Though I felt he was wrong there was no way for me to counterthe intellectual arrogance that his advice – however well meant– represented. As an initiate into corporate governance and theintricacies of company directorships, I was there to learn and absorbwhat I could of the disciplines of business. I was not about to launchinto a metaphysical disquisition on the strengths of my Africanworldview.
I would certainly have been worsted in any debate. Little did mymentor – or I, for that matter – suspect that years later I wouldcome to the realisation that Ubuntu could and should berigorously defended against doubters and critics, and indeed,strongly advanced as the basis for a better world and betterbusiness practices. The force of the statement ‘I am because youare’ may be grasped in a moment by comparing it with what mymentor wanted me to embrace. Arguably the most famousstatement of being in Western philosophy, ‘I think, therefore Iam’ (Cogito ergo sum) was coined by Rene Descartes in hisMeditations on First Philosophy in 1639.10 Significantly, while noone knows who coined the term Ubuntu – a fact that in itselfsignifies its deep communal roots – it was a single individual, ona known date, who broached the idea that thoughts in a person’smind prove that person’s existence
The contrast is striking. Ubuntu posits a collective existence; theCartesian worldview rests on individual identity. In Descartes’view, a person is an entity separate from others. The person mayknow Attuned Leadership him- or herself only by means ofconscious thought. This is a far cry from reflecting that onehuman life is the product of all other human lives. In Africanhumanist terms, one’s existence does not depend on what onethinks in the lone citadel of the mind, but on social ties, commonvalues and ways-of-seeing, and empathy with others. It is an all-embracing intellectual, emotional, spiritual and psychologicalacknowledgement of commonality.
11. Role of the Intelligentsia Intellectuals by and large provide the thought-throughleadership of society: connecting ideas with deeds. Theyground morality and political strategy in patterns ofunderstanding that give meaning and purpose to socialaction. They expound principles. They fashion programmes.They dwell on problems and find concepts and words tosuggest the solutions. Intellectual activity may appear like aselfish and withdrawn exercise if the intellectual is the retiringtype. In Africa we expect intellectuals to be engaged indialogues with their fellow men and women, whether rich orpoor, educated or not. In other words, we regard intellectualsas the compass-bearers of our day and age, the voices of ourcommunities, and the standard-bearers of our causes.They are human like all of us and are not set apart as a kindof priestly elite to lord their learning over us.
Unfortunately the ‘thinking class’ in modern society has becomeexactly that: a disconnected elite whose technical and specialistskills equip them as ideal allies of dominant political andeconomic factions. The kind of intellectual engagement we mostoften witness takes the form of competition between thinkersserving those who strive to occupy the commanding heights ofsociety. Intellectuals who take part in these games are reallyserving masters who have their hands on power and resources.By furthering the interests of these masters they stand to reapthe substantial rewards that accrue to the bright, theknowledgeable and the witty. They are companions of fortune.Of course, if fortunes change they will sell their aptitudeselsewhere.
12. Being and Becoming• In metaphysical terms Ubuntu is first and foremost a statement of being – the ‘ I am’ in all of us. It declares that each of us, in our separate lives, draws existence from the collective and that we are only persons through other persons. It does not stop there. The divine and everlasting spirit of the Almighty unites us, while our ancestors, who leave us for the world beyond the grave, are ever present to remind us of our spiritual bonds with and duties to the community. We all exist in the light of the Great Spirit.• The reach of this metaphysics is enormous. Its repercussion flow through all subsequent statements about who and what we are. - Ontologically, how we should see the world. - Epistemologically, what our knowledge amounts to. - logically, what is reasonable. - Ethically, how we should act for the good of all. - Aesthetically, how beauty can be collectively perceived. - Politically, how decisions should be made.