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Dancing on the Line (Series on Leadership, Influence and Morality) – Bell Pottinger and South Africa

 Jacob Zuma

Everyday, leaders of organizations are confronted with decisions that not only negatively impact a few (or many) but also imbalances their dance on that thin line of culturally established societal morals and norms forcing them to step or fall on the wrong side not only of history but also of decency. 

Stories of collusion between companies and governments aren’t new. Here each uses the other for their own purpose (money, power, influence, absolution etc.) but what is interesting often is not that is happens but the depth of that collusion and the length of the strategies to achieve their win-win goal.  Moreover, what I find fascinating, in particular, is how seemingly “moral” people who lead such organizations or even countries are willing to risk it all - literally.  What does this tell us about human nature?  What does it tell us about leadership?

Importantly, what does it tell us about our responsibility as leaders?

The purpose of this series is to educate (by raising awareness) aspiring male and female leaders on how to be fully conscious of the everyday decisions they make and the impact those decisions (often cumulative) have on the people under their care or under the care of the partners they are colluding with, albeit in good faith.  Those “victims” may be in the cubicle or in the office next to yours or in another city or even a country.  What you do, say or write matters – to someone.  If you intend to skew the truth, intentionally misguide or are willing to be duplicitous you may very well prosper personally and professionally but there is someone else who will not.

Your decisions sustain collateral damage.  Your decisions may give you power and wealth but they may also destroy lives of innocent people and organizations, even unintentionally.  

So, when you dance don't take your eyes off the line!

The Bell Pottinger – South Africa scandal is playing itself out in profound ways and the truth of its impact leaves us (as bystanders) scratching our heads as to whom to believe. Who is telling the truth?  Is it the Gupta brothers?  The South African Government?  No, maybe it's the South African people?  Surely, it must be Bell Pottinger? 

We don't know, so you decide but be aware of your bias, as it is not a good measure of your moral compass.

There are many media organizations reporting this story and the Guardian and Newsnight (BBC) aren’t the only sources. However, they are as good as any sources to begin our awareness of this fascinating tale.

The Guardian Article

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/10/bell-pottinger-pr-firm-apologizes-south-africa-campaign

The Newsnight Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KSHC6UPUgA

Be strong. Be significant.

 Look forward to your thoughts and comments on this article.


Norm Murray is CEO of nStratagem. We have a great deal of experience in helping leaders and organizations through their development and challenges. Contact us for a discreet discussion.

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