Have the conviction that you have it in you to succeed
We are dealing with a myth that leadership and executive coaching is "not a black thing"; that the concept is Western and therefore has no value in SA.
I want to remind black people that bettering ourselves for leadership positions is what we have done since the beginning of time.
There cannot be true leadership here until individuals see themselves as one important part of the whole. African frameworks of coaching and leadership development differ from those created in other continents because of who we inherently are.
Black people are in a position to combine phenomenal cultural lessons with global work ethics to become leaders. Our culture combines the individual and the historical, spiritual and cultural context and values and traditions.
The age-old battle to grow our self-worth as black people in a world that sees "whiteness as rightness" means there's a great need for personal consciousness and then growth, to become effective leaders.
Many confuse politicians with leaders, largely because politicians "get more air time" but people across all sectors are starting to see that there is a difference between a politician or business manager and a leader.
Some managers have a vision but are unable to empower colleagues to reach their own potential.
Those who are afraid of creating successful staff members are not leaders. Yet, they could be, if completely open to an intense programme of change that requires following guidance in their mental and spiritual conditioning.
Highlighting black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jnr, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki not one of these exceptional people had an easy time growing up.
All of them understood and experienced the daily devastation of racism. But each of them rose to greatness by having one characteristic in common: conviction. Each knew they were working for the benefit of the whole and not just themselves.
These are the examples we need to set our sights on and follow. My job as a leadership coach and facilitator is to have you look at the painful parts of your own character, where you lacked conviction or gave in to society's insistence that you weren't good enough; and assist you in creating a new story of striving, in addition to embracing your higher self, which acts as your inner GPS.
To quote Mandela: "As I have said, the first thing is, to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself."
Coaching is supporting someone to discover their untapped potential in order to achieve success.
Working with black men in a variety of industries and positions, dealing with the hard issues - ethics, courage to make decisions, conviction and empowering others - is what everyone who wants to be a leader will have to deal with.
Black people globally still find they have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good as their non-black counterparts.
Are social structures biased against people of colour? Yes, they are. Is the world always going to be a place where people of colour experience racism? Yes - white privilege is real and global.
However, it's what I do with this knowledge that can make my life exceptional or not.
This is why SA is fertile soil for hatred or change. It is leaders who want to serve the people who have the power.
*Mhlanga is a leadership/executive coach and facilitator
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