From left | Adam Craker: CEO – IQbusiness, Vikas Khandelwal: CEO – BNP Paribas (SA), Prof. Saul Klein: Dean of Gustavson International School of Business at the University of Victoria – Canada Nomkhita Mona: CEO – Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Marc Lubner: CEO – Afrika Tikkun, H.E. Dr Jong-Dae Park: South Korean Ambassador and Gayle Kaylor: Mapworks – UCT

Insights from Summit delegates to the President

The Conscious Leadership and Ethics Summit, held recently at the Venue in
Melrose Arch, shifted the paradigm in understanding conscious leadership and how it manifests to impact behaviour, culture and herald positive change to create conscious, courageous leaders in the evolution of organisations.The Dalai Lama, Sadhguru, head of the Isha Foundation and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, co-founder of the World Forum of Ethics in Business and head of the Art of Living Foundation joined the voices of dynamic International and local speakers including Prof Saul Klein of Canada, Dr Jan Bellermann of Germany, His Excellency Jong Dae Park of South Korea as well as Obama world leader alumni Marlon Parker from Cape Town to influence the culture and quality of ethical and conscious leadership. A framework to shift behaviour, and embed ethical and conscious leadership in all sectors of the country to activate an inner call of tolerance, care, compassion, trust, and service is the expected outcome of the Summit. A delegation of conscious business leaders will meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa to hand over the Conscious Leadership and Ethics Report intended to activate a culture of conscious and ethical leadership in the socio-economic and political spheres.

Panel discussions define conscious leadership

Panel One: Conscious Leadership & Ethics Into The Future

  • Consciousness is not a virtue it is a necessity. Once this is accepted, behaviour will automatically change.
  • If we want to continue to attract talent and to grow our business, consciousness is a necessity and we need to change.
  • The perception of trying to push the profit motive only, without considering all stakeholders whether an employee, environment or for that matter the society and country, leads the current malaise.
  • Knowing what is right and what is good and from that place looking for win-win solutions in everything that we do. This involves crafting solutions for both our clients and the communities that we work with. Always saying what is the win-win approach. From the place of saying there is goodness in all of us and we need to do what is good and what is right irrespective of the conflicts that exist.
  • Resonating deep within all of us is an inbuilt innate instinct to do the right thing, to do what is good and what is human. Very often, intent and action are conflictedd and greed takes over.
  • The journey starts from the genuine belief in conscious leadership and its effect on business, society and the world. A different view of leadership is the realisation that the world is not operating as it should.
  • Listening to our stakeholders and incorporating their input into our business.
  • Authenticity is what the next generation is looking for.
  • Leadership development at university level is stuck in an old paradigm of strategic, project and financial management. There is no scope or training for conscious leadership.
  • Re-look at the curriculum at the National Schools of Government as well as business schools. Develop leaders who would show up differently in their workspace, and become more conscious and holistic in their leadership approach. Overhaul the development programmes, especially the leadership programmes. The curriculum reinforces a narrow view of the purpose of business.
  • People have the underlying desire to make the world a better place and they seek a sense of higher purpose.

Panel Two: Governance, Ethics, Compliance and Conscious Leadership

  • What are the expectations of our stakeholders?
  • Compliance and ethics should no longer involve a tick-box approach, but should be the outcome of a good corporate governance approach, to incorporate the four outcomes of good corporate governance.
  • The board of directors is a collective mind. The collective mind needs to be unified and define the purpose of the business. Everyone making up the collective mind needs to be a conscious leader. We issued the code for responsible investment in South Africa that called on companies to make sure that before investing they did a due diligence on companies and on the quality of governance. Not only a financial due diligence but also a due diligence on how the company itself was treating the environmental and social issues, and what was the quality of its governance. Unfortunately, the SETA has not played its role. The consequence was that the financial services conduct authorities issued a guidance emeritus saying that companies, financial institutions and pension funds investing for their beneficiaries have to do a due diligence on the ESG factors. If this is not adhered to, it will be legislated and there will be penalties and fines.
  • The corporate sins are self-concern, self-interest, more conformance than performance, pride and arrogance. There needs to be intellectual honesty and decision making for the overall long term health of the company.
  • The lack of trust is a major issue and trust is built only when one takes responsibility.
  • One can only earn trust when there is integrity.
  • Leaders have to be conscious of the impact and influence they wield on their people and that their organisations have on all of their stakeholder.
  • To deliver conscious leadership through brands with purpose, it is essential to resonate with the consumer and simultaneously with communities. Companies with purpose last and people with purpose thrive.
  • Speak out when leaders are not making the right decisions. One has to operate from a place of what is right and then come up with win-win solutions for everything that we do.
  • We ought to go beyond just integrated thinking to integrated action. Brands have become commodities in their own right. So it’s vital that whoever joins the board has to have alignment in thinking. If there’s an alignment of the brand to its values then integrated thinking becomes integrated action.

Panel Three: Conscious Leadership, Ethics, 4IR and Media  

  • The role of media is to bring people together in conscious conversations.
  • We have to start thinking differently. We keep looking internationally for software but we have to realise that we have great engineering capability as well as logic skills in our country.
  • How can media and technology industries reinvent themselves so that we can also incorporate our own sustainable purpose into the products and services that we offer.
  • The inverse is happening with the role of the media in this age of connectivity. There’s been a dis-connectivity. The role of media is to attempt, without getting involved in the clutter, to connect and bring people together in conversations that make sense.
  • The media are channels of information for people, and tell the story from a media perspective. So as people in the communications industry, in the media industry, in the tech industry, we cannot restrict information. We cannot be exploited or get involved simply for profit.
  • There will always be the ability for individuals to tell their story, whatever that is and one cannot suppress that. The rise in fake news that is currently spread across the world deliberately by individuals who have their own agenda should be stemmed.
  • There has to be authenticity from the leadership team to stand firm in defending the value system of what the media represents.
  • There is a wall between editorial and commercial. Editorial teams are free to write whatever they feel is important for the nation to know about, and to try engage on critical issues.
  • To see the transformation of the media now rather than being an observer you almost have to use your own consciousness and your sense of integrity, to literally call a lie a lie.
  • It is remarkable to see a world leader getting on stage and telling outright untruths, and to see the uncomfortable position of journalists, who need to really dig, to find the truth and question. The evolvement of the media landscape not just in the United States but here in South Africa as the arbiter of history is an incredible transformation.

Fourth Industrial Revolution 

  • The advent of 4IR must be seen as a promise and not as a peril, as it will require large scale collaboration from academia, civil society, public sector, private sector, government and various other organisations and role players. We automatically jump into the technology of 4IR when we  should be talking about humanity and placing consciousness at the core of 4IR. At the end of the day we are dealing with the life of a human being. Collaboration is missing when it comes to putting the pieces together in terms of technology, 4IR and the media. Professor Schwab of Rwanda said that if there’s anything we can take away from 4IR technology, it is that it’s accelerating at a very rapid pace. It’s complex. It’s going to change the manner in which we live, in which we work, in which we play. The only thing that is certain is for the advent of 4IR to actually be seen as a promise and not a peril by many countries, it is going to require large-scale collaboration from academia, Civil Society, the public-sector, private sector, government and various corporations.
  • There has to be collaboration to create more scale when it comes to delivering solutions to countries. We talk about 4IR and focus technology. I think what we are missing is the fact that humanity should actually feature at the centre of the 4IR. We forget that at the end of the day we are actually dealing with the life of a human being. We think about robotics and AI and the IOT to increase sales, but we forget that 4IR provides many opportunities. People need reskilling and care. We hide behind technology and bully on social media, as we mistakenly think that we are just dealing with a product, or software or a code. I think we must understand that we need to urgently collaborate, if we are to adopt 4IR technologies and to impact individuals, communities and the country.
  • We have to start thinking differently. We have great engineering capability as well as logic skills in South Africa. However we keep looking internationally for skills and software engineers.