Bridging the trust deficit is key to growth

We have reached another critical stage in South Africa and it is essential for the right leaders to be identified, to stand up, and take more active leadership roles in guiding all aspects of the fabric of South African civil society including government, industry, communities, trade unions, and civil society organisations. 

The turmoil that the South African mining industry finds itself in has demonstrated just how divisive leadership decision-making can be to an industry that remains a significant contributor to the South African economy and which, if managed appropriately, can be a significant driver for change and transformation across the spectrum. 

After recently being appointed as the Global Head of the Mining Sector at Hogan Lovells, together with my Deputy, Jessica Black Livingston, who is based in Denver, we engaged extensively with our stakeholders both internally and externally and two key messages were given to us, namely the importance of being transparent (ensuring proper, two-way communication) and the importance of leadership diversity, with particular emphasis on gender representation and significant involvement of younger practitioners who think differently and are the decision-makers of the future. 

We have accepted these inputs and encourage people in leadership positions to consider the importance of transparency and communication, and ensuring that leadership teams are diverse, including focusing on the youth.

Recent events surrounding the publication of the Reviewed Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining and Minerals Industry, 2016 (Mining Charter 3) have also shown just how important it is to establish and maintain relationships that are based on trust – when something is said it must be meant, and people must be able to rely on what is said. 

Where there is a breakdown in relationships and communication this can lead to the unfortunate consequence of having to rely on the court systems, with all the consequences that flow from an adversarial engagement process. 

Establishing the relationship of trust takes time, effort and commitment, aspects which are not always freely available, but should form an integral part of any successful leadership strategy.

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