6 Leadership Pillars – The One Day Leader Recipe.

Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Blog | 4 comments

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I am now finally in a position to let the cat out of the bag. The pilot episode screened on SABC 1 last night.

As you know, Leadership and Leadership Development form a large part of my business as an international Consultant and Keynote Speaker. So it’s truly awesome to be involved in South Africa’s first Leadership-based reality TV series. We’ve taken the best elements from the best reality shows and we’re pitting 6 candidate leaders against each other over 13 weeks. “The One Day Leader” airs live on SABC 1 every Tuesday night at 18:30.

What 6 Pillars of Social Leadership will we be evaluating the contestants on?

Developing the 6 Social Leadership Pillars for The One Day Leader was challenging in that I felt it was important that we make a distinction between business leadership (of which there is extensive literature) and Social Leadership – the type of “political” leadership required in an African Democracy. These 6 Pillars also needed to make good TV and help create an environment in which viewers can challenge their beliefs and views of current social and political leaders in their communities – specifically with a view on the Municipal Elections which are on the horizon.

The 6 Pillars were developed from two points of view – 1. From a Leadership Theory point of view, and 2. From looking at what is lacking in the current crop of social and political leaders who serve as role models for the youth leaders in South Africa.

Social leaders are required to have an intrinsic willingness to lead their communities to change. When the leader is done, the community should be in a better place than they were before, and they should feel that they did themselves. However, most of today’s social leaders show very little willingness to make real changes in the communities / people they serve. They are more concerned with the changes (financial and status) they make for themselves. The willingness factor relates to the Leadership principle of Servant Leadership – where leadership is not about the leader, but about the people. Candidates will be required to be solutions-focused and create community appeal for their interventions, suggestions and projects, taking only as much limelight as they would require to get the job done.

It’s almost self-explanatory, but the Social Leader of the future, the leader that help South Africa rise from the ashes, will be the one that can develop a clear and inspiring vision for what they want to do and where they want to lead their community to. It requires beigng able to look beyond the problem, creating a practical solution that is achievable and that can inspire the “common man” to action. A compelling vision is indisputable because it will carry the weight of a nation / community to make it real. The leader will have to conceptualise it, understand it, implement it and create small wins – real signs of progress – that will keep the community motivated.

Above all else, we’re looking for leaders with a positive attitude. Leaders who will make a difference in their communities by getting things done and by inspiring others to get things done – to facilitate their own change and not just “wait for government”. Tomorrow’s leaders need to have an attitude of pride and positivity. They must understand that leadership and the “privilege of the platform” that goes with it comes with great responsibility. In today’s leaders we see too much negative speak. Too many leaders want to lead with fear – by telling people how bad things are and how much worse the “opposition” will make things. We’re looking for One Day Leaders who are positive, who focus on the difference they are going to make without being negative about other leaders , other communities and other countries.

Without being able to influence others, move people to action, change people’s mindsets, a leader is just another citizen. Leaders cannot be leaders without followers and so it is vital that the One Day Leader Candidates can show how they are influencing the community, the elders, the audience and the viewers. Influence (along with Attitude) is what sets Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela apart from Julius Malema. The way in which the contestants can formulate a Vision, articulate it and defend it in open debate will become the measure of their influence. They must be able to sway the audience and the viewers (and in real-life their constituents) to their point of view. That is influence.

In South Africa we are plagued by social leaders who talk a good talk but who fail deliver at every opportunity. The world – and South Africans – no longer applaud intention. They applaud action. We want contestants on The One Day Leader who can formulate concrete and actionable solutions to the problems they are confronted with. Not grand schemes, but small do-able actions that will create momentum to create huge sustainable change. It must be a measure of the show that we see contestant do stuff – not just talk about it debate it. Their challenge will be to find things to do. If they have influence, the communities will pick up on these actions and make it happen for them thereby creating “intrinsic” momentum.

Social Leaders are adept at making promises, at doing the wrong things, on abusing public office and then passing the buck. Accountability amongst the current crop of social leaders is as endangered as the Rhino. Throughout the series we want to see that the contestants live up to the hype they create. That they deliver on the “election promises”. That they are accountable for their actions. The judges will want to see if they under-promise and over deliver as opposed to the other way around.


  1. Iam not content with your comments on the show I think they are more personal than academic, u need to separate the issues, your agenda is quite obvious to people with eyes and ears. Your role on the show is to judge remember this is not U THINK U can dance

  2. Thank you for your comment, albeit anonymously.

    I have never portrayed myself to be an academic, I am global expert on leadership and as such I develop the content for the show and act as expert panelist. Our role on the panel is not merely to act as judges, but also to guide the contestants and advise them.

    If you look at leadership as creating a brand, you need to look no further than Obama, Mandela and even Malema. They have carefully crafted brands – people like them and can’t always say exactly why they do. In the same way that people buy Coca-Cola for reasons way beyond its taste. It becomes emotional.

    That is exactly what today’s leaders need to understand and manage. My prediction was spot on last night. What I said was not in insult to Lesley, and if he had allowed me to finish, he would have realised that.

    And, by the way, I don’t dance. Not ever.

    Thanks for watching the show and engaging with us. Keep watching.

  3. I think this kind of Leadership are more wider and useless for me who work in manufacturing company, this Leadership kind a judging the force.

  4. Thank you for your comment.

    I believe these Leadership Principles are universal, and I can think of several applications in your manufacturing environment.

    I’ve used the these same principles in working with mining companies, and factory staff in various industries.

    The secret is to find specific applications for these principles and ways to demonstrate them to your staff through consistent action.

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