Capturing South Africa’s Rich Legacy of Leadership

by Adriaan Groenewald

For the past 15 to 20 years we have been on a mission critical adventure – working with and interviewing top leaders in South Africa specifically, but often beyond our borders as well. This eye-opening experience was enriched and expedited by an association with Business Report and its Editor Ellis Mnyandu, culminating in this book – Seamless Leadership: Universal lessons from South Africa.

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It captures the miraculous South African leader-ship heritage that the world admires so much, as demonstrated by its attraction to and even obsession with the late former president Nelson Mandela. It then aims to share this inside our own backyard while also exporting it to the world.

Our journey happened to take place while a new, democratic South Africa was born and moved from infant stage to turning 21, symbolising its coming of age.

Engaging leaders during this vibrant period of our history – a crucible of note – resulted in the emergence of a leadership attitude approach that is not academic, but practically meant for this and future dynamic periods in the history of the world – a current “restoration period” where the world desperately needs something to restore the reputation of and hope in leadership and universal truths as an inherent part of life and all human beings; a future “building period” where leaders hopefully build on the restored trust in leaders, to take society to new heights.

So where are we currently?

We are facing a very serious trust deficit between leaders and followers the world over, hopefully not irreparable. While South Africa and the world have many daunting challenges in this modern age, its biggest one by far may just be this very trust deficit. If we don’t trust our political, corporate and other leaders, why will we follow them towards the proposed solutions to societal ills that plague the world; or why will we follow them to an alternative destiny? If this future-threatening challenge is not confronted and resolved to some degree we and our future generations are doomed!

My preface delves into how close this country was to full-scale war – as explained by a good source. Seamless Leadership is what saved us, which more than 21 years later remains relevant, even more so, across the globe.

In short, when it mattered most, Mandela and other leaders demonstrated a seamless leadership attitude. This is what our political, corporate, civic, sports, educational and even family environment needs desperately!

The book reveals a big picture that leaders must see in order to contextualize this global trust and leadership deficit. We then state a case that a seamless leadership attitude or mind-set is the solution – broadly speaking an attitude of always defaulting towards “universal” thinking and principles, zooming in on the essence of every situation, driving fanatically towards simplicity to manage complexity and always seeking big picture perspective.

Our journey has brought us to a point where we realise emphatically that not only must leaders have the confidence to: make effective decisions; combine success with values; ignite passion and shift attitudes; ensure consistent performance; multiply more leaders; ensure people performance; connect; ensure disciplined consistency; be courageous; be honest and open; make meaning; share; lead in difficult times; deal with sensitive and contentious situations; but they must do all this and more the “seamless leadership” way if they are going to succeed in today’s fast paced, highly volatile, unpredictable, interdependent world.

Trying to be a successful leader from a positional stance has long become obsolete. Most leaders know or sense this. Followers can and are revolting against it openly. Even attempting to be a “servant leader”, or a “level five leader”, or a “values driven leader”, or a whatever leader in isolation does not seem to have the leadership potency needed to counter a societal momentum towards some unknown, unpredictable, challenging yet exceptionally exciting future – only if understood and prepared for it though.

Our challenge to everyone in South Africa and across the globe is this: in your roles – father, mother, employee, citizen, manager, politician, community leader or whatever – the time has arrived to stand up for what is right, adopt “Seamless Leadership”, or “Mandela Leadership” in some form and help move yourself, your family, business, community, country and this globe to a better place. If not for yourself or your country, do it for our future generations. Be part of the solution rather than the problem; focus on taking ownership and creating effective movement where you stand!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 11.47.59 AMAdriaan Groenewald (@AdriaanG_LP) – MD and co-founder Leadership Platform (; leadership author and advisor; presenter of Leadership Platform on on Mondays 12 noon to 1pm.


Herman Mashaba, entrepreneur: “This book captures our South African leadership heritage well.”

Ian Donald, Nestlé SA chief executive: “As one of South Africa’s foremost leadership experts, Adriaan Groenewald clearly outlines the approach leaders across the globe should adopt.”

Gareth Cliff, media personality: “Better, more effective leadership is the one thing every South African agrees we need. What makes a great leader? Read this book.”

Neal Froneman, Sibanye Gold chief executive: “Seamless Leadership is a vital contribution to grooming a future generation of leaders that will guide our nation through turbulent passages that inevitably lie ahead.”

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About RichSimmondsZA

Retired but still Disruptive
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