Morally bereft leadership raises questions of trust

In this vast, muddied pool of humanity that revolves around the socioeconomic and political space, a deeply rooted apathy permeates some of our leaders in the health industry. There are some industries and companies that thrive and profit on human vulnerability. Medical aid schemes are no different. They are supposed to display compassion, care, help and support in times of dire need and stress,  particularly when the health and life of a loved one is at stake. However, a lack of conscious leadership in the current system of procedure, process and profit often allows for ethical irregularity. 

In the past week, I have experienced the undoubtedly questionable behaviour of a company not acting in good faith. A medical aid scheme found every excuse in the book not to authorise and  acknowledge the in-hospital costs of a young man who was unexpectedly admitted in a critical condition to the intensive care unit of a private hospital with a previously undiagnosed condition. Even though the medical aid scheme had full access to his medical records that stated he had no pre-existing condition, it refused to honour the authorisation while searching for any procedural avenue to avoid paying the bill.

The realistic expectations of what should have happened — and what did — is sobering and throws the spotlight on greedy establishments and their myopic and morally bereft leadership whose focus on the bottom line trumps the basic tenets of humanity and care. 

This is not the first time a medical aid scheme acted in bad faith. As just one example, in November 2016, Profmed terminated the membership of a primary member and refused to honour the bills for “several medical procedures” and  argued that the member had failed to disclose medical procedures that would have allowed it to properly calculate her risk as a member. However, when the member took Profmed to court, the judge ruled in her favour, saying that, “There is no duty on a prospective applicant for medical insurance… to disclose a condition that is immaterial or non-existent”. 

This raises serious questions of trust and credibility issues regarding the financial behaviour, integrity, governance, ethics and conscious leadership of some medical aid schemes. We may never understand why the companies and individuals in whom we trust renege the way that they do, particularly in times of crisis. 

However, it is enough to know that one of the principles of conscious leadership is putting people and humanity at the core of everything one does. Those in positions of power and responsibility influence hundreds and thousands of lives by their actions. Everything they do and say, the way they feel and behave, act and react, inspires and guides or manipulates and controls the stakeholders they affect within their sphere. 

It is, therefore, imperative that people in leadership positions, regardless of who they lead, wear the mantle of responsibility with care, because this is intricately woven into who they are as human beings. This is a foreign concept to some leaders, who are clueless about responsible, conscious leadership and the consequences of their unconscionable actions that shape the moral muscle and perception of their organisations. 

Their focus on the bottom line somehow impedes their ability to create a culture of trust, care and compassion, or to display a sense of humanity towards the weak and vulnerable people they are supposed to serve. It is quite inevitable that any company worth its salt has to make the transition from mere profit-taking and higher margins to a culture of service, particularly in the health industry. 

Some leaders, rather than embrace conscious, ethical leadership, lack a sense of self and the capacity of courage to disrupt and change the status quo of an industry that has, over the years, gained a reputation for the questionable behaviour of not placing the wellbeing of the people it serves at the core of what it do. 

Conscious leadership demands the surrender of greed, self-interest and ego for integrity, service and selfless action. Perhaps we are not as far along as we would like to be, consciously. Perhaps managing shareholder expectations still takes priority over authentic accountability and collective purpose. Perhaps our attempt to shift the way of being for leaders to awaken into the power of consciousness towards a moral code of kindness and societal wellbeing is near impossible. 

However, all is not lost. Our immediate hope for a better world — despite the silent, shrieking hell of a global economic crisis, devastating war, continuous drudgery and untold suffering — is that the human spirit is resilient beyond belief. There is also overwhelming evidence that the promise of hope rests  with those conscious leaders who serve selflessly because they have a profound sense of responsibility and find it impossible to remain indifferent to a deep call from the core of their beings to serve with vision, purpose and compassion.


Photo credit: (John McCann, M&G)

The truth is now on sale

The truth industry seems to be booming. From fact-checkers and fake news, to custodians and gatekeepers of truth, there are numerous sources that wave the flag, yet truth as objective reality is hard to come by. 

Narratives shift like sand and there are verifiable sources for pro or anti any ideological perspective one could hold. Special military operations could be war, and pro-science and anti-vaxxers could convince each other if they each just “did the research”. Even Donald Trump is in on the racket with his Truth social media platform that’s already hit number one on the Apple app store.

There are positions of branding military action as a false flag for both the “Donbas genocide” as well as weapons of mass destruction, with attempts at managing and controlling narratives and the information public can be exposed to. Irrespective of which position one holds, there are Afghan refugees that fled to the Ukraine now trying to flee a war-torn country. As we sit on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), the theatre of war is still very much a part of our species, and the truth remains both illusive and subjective.

As the Covid-19 pandemic narrative played out, a barrage of ideological precepts emerged with misinformation, re-information and “authorised” custodians of information. Identity politics has unfolded with the fervour of sports fanaticism. As the world readjusts to the two-year-plus pandemic, this year the Davos agenda returns in person following up on the narratives of climate change and 4IR. 

The World Economic Forum’s digital inclusion and digital identity agendas along with their Great Reset positioning has left conspiracy theorists salivating. Don’t judge, everybody needs friends. Positions of conforming and regulation stood against alternative owned perceptions and worldviews. Each ideology supported overtly, with terms like mainstream-media coined and reaffirming perspectives available on various platforms, including on Pay-Per-View with CNN stepping inside the octagon with Joe Rogan.

In an age of influencers, business influence still reigns supreme with apparent corporate influence on government policy, making Nancy Pilosi TikTok’s Stock Queen, to Shell’s Batho Batho Trust donating R15-million to the ANC after local courts halted oil exploration in whale breeding grounds along South Africa’s Wild Coast. Locally, I doubt that the narratives could be controlled with the flair of ANN7 and The New Age, but internationally there’s always that Pay-Per-View.

When objectivity of external reality seems distant, in the 4IR the once endless search for truth can be bought online. The technological approach to the experienced truth of the human in the field of consciousness has had its own consequences as Elon Musk’s personal attachment to a position of extreme urgency subjected “extreme suffering” to monkeys during animal testing of his Neuralink brain interference system. 

Altering individual truth in the 4IR and altering one’s worldview through artificial intelligence (AI) implants or immersing oneself into a metaverse pseudo-reality may be the next product for a digital artificial truth. In combination with the pharmaceutical industry’s involvement with mind-altering psychedelics, side-effects may appear depending on your YouTube algorithm.

Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have begun taking billionaires to space with the hope of inducing an Overview Effect moment of altered perception sparking a sensation of oneness with the planet after seeing the earth from a distance. Most billionaires report that after seeing the world from space, that they are very happy being billionaires.

As media influences perceived reality and science hacks reality itself, along with the advances of AI, robotics and digital identity data, external attachments to “us” automatically positioning a “them” to be against can be steered, further damaging public trust in government leadership, academic research and business intentions leaving the market flooded with a cheap version of truth.

So, the journey continues along the arduous path, searching for truth. In our pursuit of evolution and exploration of our humanness, as we create purpose and meaning in our actions and non-actions, hopefully the human-being is still able to recognise the one, single known truth of our own pending mortality. What reality of our nature could be revealed as we surrender to awareness of the finite nature that we are? What truth could we find between the stillness of our breath? 

These biased, and perceived experiences of truth have accounts of encouraging fundamental shifts to the worldview of an individual to themes of unity and experiences of togetherness with one’s fellow human-beings. If these attachments could be enhanced and multiplied in to business interests and political willingness to foster love and acceptance when the self-interest still tops the charts, and choose softness as strength for our kindred species above self-willed motivation of business and government leaders, the impact of further trauma inflicted on our fellow man could be avoided as we move away from an “us” versus “them” toward a shared identity of the human-being.

Weaponising a manufactured truth with curated narratives and counter-narratives, and hacking perceptions of reality to present a consumer digestible truth may be sold, and the presented illusion may seem less complicated and nuanced, but denying the truth itself to join with masses of agreeable peers still cannot hide forever, the sun, the moon, and the Truth.

South Africa needs to adopt Conscious Leadership

What is the relevance of conscious leadership in business and society and what does it really mean? What would your life be like if every human contact were genuine and meaningful? If every time you spoke, it were with respect and considered opinion? If every move were made thoughtfully and intentionally? What would it be like if you could be conscious, kind and deeply aware of your actions every minute of your work day, especially in the frantically busy moments? The relevance would be humanity in action

Two months into 2022 and we have seen the suffering and effect of the war in Ukraine and the consequences of dithering decisions and continued shenanigans at home. It leaves us with a gargantuan leadership crisis both locally and on the global stage. There is the elaborate façade of outwardly impressive leaders, who remain inwardly impoverished by greed, ambition and power. 

How do we fix that? How do we create a calibre of conscious, ethical leadership? How do we raise the bar to create courageous leaders with a different quality of thinking and being with the capacity to uplift and influence those whose people lives they touch? How do we create visionary leaders whose actions manifest a greater good for all? Intriguing questions and a dearth of answers. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address last month: “We are engaged in a battle for the soul of the country. We will succeed… because the spirit of resilience is deeply embedded.” 

What did he mean by that? 

When the president uses the phrase “engaged in a battle for the soul of the country”, he is incorrect. What he should have said was “engaged in a battle for the soul of the leadership of the country” and not the “soul of the country”. For conscious leaders shape conscious companies and countries. 

An unguarded bellow is all it takes for us to witness the final convulsions of a failed leader like Brian Molefe, Lynne Brown or Malusi Gigaba and many more who had lost their way in the captured swamps or who are too busy feeding at the trough to heed the sludge they stand in. This cabal of like-minded individuals who operate for material gain and power at the expense of the greater collective are driven by a core collaborative value system of what’s in it for themselves, rather than what’s in it for the country and those they serve. 

How did we get here? 

These are anxious and difficult times for which we need an inner resilience and security to get ourselves out of this malaise of loss, betrayal and the paralysing pessimism of recent events that threaten our national psyche. Thus, we should battle for the souls of the leadership of those in the political and business spheres and the soul of the country will take care of itself. 

In navigating the cause of conscious leadership, I sometimes cross paths with leaders who are so unaware, they do not understand what conscious leadership means. We had seen more than our fair share of looters and cheaters, pervasive greed, raw ambition and dishonest dealings by our leaders. In a country that is the birthplace of the King IV corporate governance principles; one that should be held up as a global beacon of conscious leadership, ethics and governance, why are we so severely compromised? Where is the moral muscle of our leadership? 

In this age of excessive materialism, cut-throat and dishonest dealings, one looks to the chief executives, chairpersons, the president, ministers and leaders of the day to display courage and vision — not incompetence and cowardice — to take a country forward. Unfortunately, the self-interest, double-dealing, and blind disregard for ethics or governance displayed by some of our leaders, leaves one in no doubt that there is much to be done in terms of conscious leadership and values. 

There is hope

Conscious leadership is a skill and a state of mind that can be acquired. We can create a conscious, humane society, despite the need and greed. All it takes is a little discernment. All too often we have created icons and heroes of liars and thieves and those who have made enormous amounts of dodgy money. 

We revere the drugged athlete, the sushi guzzlers, and the sensation-seeking glamour queens. There are those that play a role just to win public acclaim or financial fortune, as if one is expected to be dishonest and inauthentic to prove yourself worthy of being a leader. This is the culture and value system that we have created since our democracy. 

If we do not venerate the crafty moochers of the world and can discern that a country can be saved only by honourable men and women who understand that a powerful leader is one who is authentic and responsible, worthy of trust, impeccable with their word and takes accountability — it is then that the soul of the country will have a fighting chance to be saved.

Photo credit: (David Harrison, M&G)