Leadership at the peak

The intellect, energy and wisdom balance

By George W Nyabadza

ONE of the most exciting consulting activities I provide is facilitating executive level strategy seminars. My most recen

t engagement was with the management team of a large pharmaceutical group in Zimbabwe.



There is an exciting revolution going on within the corporate sector. Takeovers, mergers and acquisitions have become the norm.


Exciting as these are, worldwide research has shown that unless the acquirer has sufficient management capacity to drive the business forward, most shareholder changes do not yield any significant gains in wealth. One of the problems that Zimbabwean investors face is the shallowness of the pool of seasoned business professionals to draw from. In any event, most of the seasoned business professionals are either in their own ventures or are on their way out of the country.


Zimbabweans are, however, very creative and resourceful. I have seen this coming through in the structuring of new management teams. Most investors have decided to put their faith in young executives. Many of the post merger and acquisition teams are led by thirty something executives. The pharmaceutical group I am talking about is a case in point.


As I look at the cross section of companies that have changed shareholding, the majority of them are being led by these Young Turks. I love Young Turks, their passion and commitment makes every encounter mentally stimulating. Two characteristics give the Young Turks their edge and ability to lead; intellect and energy.


Intellect


One of the things that Zimbabwe has been blessed with is governments (pre and post-independence) that invested heavily into the education of the people. My mother speaks better English than some managers I encounter in my travels in English-speaking countries.


This investment in education has led to massive transfer of our intellectual resources to countries that adequately reward them. This transfer has however benefited those that have stayed in that they have the unique opportunity to hold positions that they really would only have been ready for in their mid forties. The Young Turks are brilliant, make no mistake about that. I was amazed at the strategic clarity displayed by the young CEO I referred to. He is sharp, clear and mentally alert.


To be fair, more than half his team was made up of the bright eyed “thirty-something’s” , all exhibiting clarity of strategic thought in their areas of operation. This high intellectual capacity enables them to conceptualise the future even in the uncertain environment in which they operate.


Energy


The Young Turks are all energy. Nothing is impossible to them. Everything is challenged. Everything must be improved. Nothing is evolutionary in their approach. Quantum leaps are taken in every dimension of business operation. Vision is the thing.


The energy released by their captaincy produces miraculous results. In the group I referred to, there has been a sudden turnaround in fortunes that has left everyone amazed. I have no doubt that this is just the beginning. The Young Turks have the energy to galvanise monoliths into nimble and dynamic players, dancing into the future.


Wisdom


Whilst I have a sense of kindred spirit with the Young Turks I must caution against leaving them to their own devices. Intellect and energy will give you tremendous results in the short-term. This is good for the investor who is looking for a quick return.


However, for business and empire builders, intellect and energy must be balanced with wisdom. Wisdom comes with time, and is birthed out of the painful experiences of business life. Most Young Turks have not experienced the full cycles of business and maybe on a success high that may be burst when new realities set in.