HomeAnalysisInterrogating the moral compass in our leadership

Interrogating the moral compass in our leadership

JUST recently, we have seen the launch of an anti-corruption campaign by President Emmerson Mnangagwa characterised by the introduction of a law to protect whistle blowers.

This has left me wondering how effective these developments will have in fighting corruption, which has become a way of life in Zimbabwe. Similar efforts aimed at curtailing corruption have been hyped up before with little or no impact on the intended objective.

Previously I sought to tackle the issue of “leadership deficit” from a moral and ethical dimension. It was immediately after the launch of the National Code on Corporate Governance Zimbabwe at the beginning of 2015 and I raised a pertinent question whether the people of Zimbabwe had the moral and ethical grounding to implement the code in letter and spirit? Ironically, the document was launched by the then vice-president Mnangagwa who again presided at the launch of yet another effort at fighting corruption—last week’s anti-corruption campaign—this time as the President of Zimbabwe

Corporate governance crisis

Recent headlines on corruption, mismanagement and all other business malpractices in state and non-state corporate enterprises have become almost synonymous with a “style” of leadership peculiar to Zimbabwe. Annual reports by the Auditor-General have unearthed serious corporate governance malpractices in state enterprises. This is despite the numerous efforts to address governance systems in state-owned enterprises. The efforts have included the enactment of laws in the form of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act which has statutorily given effect to the national code of corporate governance.

Integrity in leadership

As reflected in these headlines, observance of the principles of integrity has become almost non-existent in Zimbabwe and require serious introspection. The existence of fundamental core values—such as ethics, integrity and authenticity in leadership—need to be critically interrogated if we are to entertain any hope for the better.

What is integrity all about?

A glean at the definition would show the following characteristics to be associated with the term:

1) Of undisputed origin or veracity; genuine. 2) The quality of having a set of morally correct values and principles. 3) Proactively displaying a profound strength of character. 4) Always doing the right thing, even when no one else is watching. 5) Personal and professional behaviour of the highest ethical standard. 6) True, real, actual, legitimate. 7) Reliable, dependable, trustworthy, unadulterated. 8) Generosity of spirit. 9) Embracing gratitude and humility.

Unfortunately, with the manner in which we are going about our business in Zimbabwe, nothing in our conduct seems to measure up to any of the above. In the midst of unexpected events and stressful situations that characterise our environment, our moral compass has been hit to the core and our character has been shredded to pieces.

Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. It is like the roots of a tree which although underground and not visible yet are the biggest supporter providing strength, stability, nourishment and growth to the entire tree. A person with integrity is balanced and complete, with a solid character.

Daring to be different

No doubt, many of us “do our best” to do the right thing—when it is easy, when it is convenient, or perhaps because others are watching. But what if all four of these mantras converged into an ironclad personal code of conduct—in essence, a core value “manifesto?” What if we all actually took this manifesto to heart without exception or compromise—starting right now and continuing every waking minute of every day? Imagine the very real personal and professional impact borne of the simple act of unreservedly embracing a rare, refreshing and relentless commitment to “doing the right thing.” Imagine promises always delivered. Imagine strength of character “unplugged.” Imagine the remarkable possibilities?

Since most organisations have not taken sufficient steps to properly qualify their leaders, nor to professionally train them, there is often not only a dearth of qualified leadership, but even more so, there are moral and ethical leadership issues that are also never properly addressed by these “leaders.”

Robert Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/www.lird.co.zw.

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