Leadership Effectiveness: Making a Difference

Making a DifferenceEXCN has been privileged to work with some exemplary executives over the years and Jacko Maree, recently retired CEO of Standard Bank Group in South Africa, is one of them. High on the list of Jacko’s admired traits are his values and integrity, brilliant mind, and mentoring and leadership ability.

Several years ago, Jacko wrote to his senior leaders thanking them for the great work they did and the contribution they all made to the success of the organization. In true form, he was sharing the accolades and acclaim he had recently received as the recipient of Moneyweb CEO’s CEO of the Year. In addition to the praise he offered, he went a step further, challenging them to ask themselves at the end of each day the following five “Did I” leadership questions.

  1. Did I deliver great results today?
  2. Did I live the values today?
  3. Did I make a real difference today?
  4. Did I manage my people today in the same way that I would have liked my manager to have managed me?
  5. Did I act in such a way that those customers, colleagues or other stakeholders I interacted with today would have described me as inspired, motivated, involved?

What was equally valuable was his follow-on proposition that they not only appraise their own actions, but also those of their managers and colleagues, and provide feedback as appropriate.

“Having thought carefully about yourself in answering these questions, then think about others around you.

If you genuinely and sincerely feel your manager or a colleague has not lived up to the challenges of the 5 Leadership questions, I encourage you to speak to that person in a kind, gentle, yet firm, way using these questions as the basis for your discussion. We need to be honest and open, and nobody should take offence at any of the Leadership questions being raised. Nobody should be fearful. We should be grateful to discuss our shortcomings and areas for improvement.

Conversely, when you see positive Leadership in action, celebrate it with an email, SMS, card, letter or whatever you feel is appropriate! At the very least tell the person concerned that you have noticed or appreciated their action of Leadership.

By encouraging all of you to become better leaders and by asking you to be aware of the Leadership actions happening around you, I am convinced that we can dramatically improve our performance and enjoyment at work.”

By doing this, Jacko Maree elevated the level of feedback, candor, accountability, transparency, and performance in his organization.

Are you demonstrating the courage to look in the mirror and ask others to do the same? How can you challenge your leaders to help each other improve performance?

Background information on Jacko Maree:

Under Mr. Maree’s leadership, Standard Bank became highly successful (share price up more than 5-fold; dividend per share up almost 7-fold).  During his career, Mr. Maree received numerous peer accolades and awards: Wits Business School Annual Management Excellence award, The Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year, Moneyweb’s CEO of The Year, “The Most Trusted CEO in South Africa” (Ask Africa’s annual Trust Barometer study), designee by the Financial Times as one of the 50 emerging market business leaders, and one of Forbes Magazine’s 20 most powerful people in African business.


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