Transforming leadership perceptions through practical experience
Now in its seventh year, the Odgers Berndtson CEOx1Day programme strives to challenge and transform the ideas of tomorrows leaders by immersing selected students in real-life situations alongside CEOs from leading organisations, allowing them to see first-hand what it means to be a leader in the modern workplace.
Now in its seventh year, the Odgers Berndtson CEOx1Day programme strives to challenge and transform the ideas of tomorrows leaders by immersing selected students in real-life situations alongside CEOs from leading organisations, allowing them to see first-hand what it means to be a leader in the modern workplace. Chania Stempowski, joint MD of Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa notes that businesses will need to reinvent leadership if they hope to succeed in a world where growing disruption is unavoidable.
“According to the Odgers Berndtson 2020 Leadership Confidence Index business will need to focus on retaining and developing the type of leaders that thrive despite increasing uncertainty. The CEOx1Day programme assists with spreading this message to promising students and looks to ensure they have first-hand experience of what it means to be a leader today.”
As part of the 2019 CEOx1Day programme, in which 12 local CEOs were paired with promising MBA students, the students were asked about their perceptions of leadership going into the day and how these might have changed following their experience.
Student Amogelang Kgaladi, who was paired with Grant Pattison, CEO of Edcon, explained “My biggest assumption was that CEOs need to be mavericks who know everything. However, following my experience, I realised the importance of consultation with others and the value of taking time out to identify the present issues and potential solutions to these.” While Jessie Hurst, who was paired with Andries van Heerden, CEO of Afrimat, had assumptions around the lessons she might be able to learn from the experience: “I had wondered whether the learnings from the CEO would translate as we are from very different industries [Jessie comes from the technology industry], but I found the information and learnings relevant and surprisingly applicable. It was through this experience that I realised that leadership challenges and opportunities remain the same despite the industry that you find yourself in.”
“I learned that CEOs are also human and have a degree of vulnerability. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is what makes for an authentic leader,” explained Leabetswe Bomvana, who was paired with Lillian Barnard, CEO of Microsoft. Meanwhile, Mahlogonolo Malebe, who was paired with Basani Maluleke, CEO of African Bank, had a realisation around the fact that CEOs need a strong team to successfully run an organisation. “My assumption was that CEOs are jacks of all trades and masters of all, only to realise that their role depends in part on the competencies of others in the team. Collaboration and teamwork play a big role in their success in this position.”
Thinesh Vittee, who was paired with Gavin Dalgleish, CEO of Illovo Sugar, said, “I was surprised by how deeply connected Gavin was with his staff. At lunch, we sat with 2 non-executive employees who he knew personally. It was a great indicator of how good leaders never lose touch with their people.”
Leading for tomorrow
“Now more than ever, leaders should be asking themselves ‘what does it take to lead an organisation successfully in the face of disruption?’ and adapting their strategies and thinking around what it takes to be successful in the modern world. Pairing CEOs with promising MBA students is not only valuable for the learners; it provides a platform for the CEOs to gain valuable feedback and insights that might inform their thinking around leadership in the modern world,” says Lauren van Halderen, joint MD of Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa.
As a world leader in executive search, Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa is committed to continuing these opportunities. If you would like to apply to be part of the programme, please click here.