Thursday, 12 September 2013


Good day everyone. This week we are looking at the theme of paying your dues as a stage on your journey of leadership development. When Nelson Mandela emerged from prison, there was a sense that he had already earned the right to lead SA into it's new democratic era. He had "paid his dues" when serving such a long prison sentence. He had integrated key leadership lessons during his time into his leadership style and outlook. On our journey of leadership development, there is a time to prepare to lead; and a time to lead. "Paying your dues" is the time of preparation for leadership and should ideally contain a variety of experiences so that growth can occur in a number of areas of a person's life.

                                                        PAYING YOUR DUES


The 2 key pillars on which effective leadership rests are character and competencies. Character is a quality that embodies many important traits such as integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence, and wisdom. Character is something within yourself which is fashioned and molded by your responses to the many experiences and challenges which life may throw at you.

Before commencing on his coaching career at the age of 32, Alex Ferguson spent 16 years as a player. Together with his schoolboy days, these years could be seen as his preparation for leadership. At his various clubs, he experienced boardroom dynamics, was exposed to a variety of managers; some of whom treated him well while others did not; he also experienced a vibrant Scottish environment where a whole group of outstanding managers emerged. He was exposed to the unique atmosphere at great football derbies and saw international soccer stars plying their trade. His memory store of these years contain lessons learnt in bitter disappointments and incredible highs; all integrated and stored away for his later managerial career.


Some experiences in life have a deeper impact upon our lives than others. The constant presence of good parents, the environment of a good school, the personal attention of an personally interested teacher or coach will have a life-long impact on our character formation. Sometimes we may experience an environment where many factors  conspire against us. Here we may learn deeper lessons such as the value of self-discipline, a deeper knowledge of  our inner emotional reality, how do we respond under pressure and do we have the resolve to thrive in such tough situations.

Alex Ferguson had such a time in his period at Rangers. Here he experienced religious discrimination, a manager who did not rate him as a player and the severe disappointment of being demoted to the reserve teams. His resolve, emotional stamina, and love of the game was severely tested. He was paying his dues. He successfully negotiated this period in his life and later we could detect the lessons learnt in the quality and longetivity of his managerial career. The path to effective leadership is seldom travelled without these sorts of deep character- forming periods.They are called personal crucibles.


A) Character formation needs as much attention as the development of our leadership competencies.

B) Character formation is essentially an inside job.

C) Lessons from crucible-type situations are the most valuable in the long-term development of our character and leadership acumen .

Have a good week

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