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Developing leadership capital for a better future

Developing leadership capital for a better future

Interview with Nedbank COO, Mfundo Nkuhlu

The world of businesses is undoubtedly experiencing the biggest transformation in centuries. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, life beyond the pandemic and a shift towards a purpose-led approach to business is undoubtedly shaping industries. Businesses that will lead, navigate and sustain themselves for years to come require strong leadership capital to captain them through the wave of change that the world is experiencing. We caught up with Nedbank’s Chief Operating Officer, Mfundo Nkuhlu, to reflect on leadership capital.

Q: Strong leadership is associated with driving successful transformation and sustainability. Looking at Nedbank’s approach to leadership, what would you point out as critical success factors that have developed leadership capital within the organisation?

I think the main key takeout is that Nedbank views leadership not to be the exclusive responsibility of a handful of senior management or executives. We strongly believe that every person within the organisation has the potential, and certainly the responsibility, to be a leader. Therefore, in developing leadership capital, we have taken a holistic view of leadership that leadership is a state of being, achievable by all. We exemplify this ethos through our transformational approach to leadership capital that embraces a strong leadership culture, organisational leadership and a commitment to leading through a strong brand, ethics, compliance and good governance, and stakeholder engagements that deliver shared value.

Q: You mention that ‘every person in the organisation has the potential to lead.’ How is Nedbank enabling this leadership-based culture across the organisation?

One of the outcomes targeted in our culture transformation journey is embedding humancentred leadership to unlock the culture shift towards leadership being part of the DNA of every individual in the organisation.

We launched our human-centred leadership approach in January 2021. It is the outcome of a collaborative exercise with our leaders that resulted in a future-fit leadership framework that defines what differentiates a Nedbank leader and challenges all leaders to #BeTheDifference. Following the launch, various initiatives were implemented to promote human-centred leadership.

Leaders at Nedbank now have a clear understanding of what our core leadership beliefs, attitudes, values, and principles are; what is expected of them; and what they should focus on. Leadership at Nedbank harnesses the power of the collective; everyone has the ability to be a leader.

Q: How does Nedbank extend this leadership approach in its industry and the market in general?

We strive to entrench this shared leadership culture not only in our business, but also in our industry, because we know that the more people there are in SA’s financial services sector who have strong, principled and empowered leadership mindsets, the more effective the sector will be in supporting and driving transformation in all areas of society and business.

Furthermore, as a bank that takes money seriously, Nedbank is focused on enabling people to improve their financial well-being and guiding them to make better and more sustainable money choices. This is key to not only transforming the lives and futures of individuals, but also enabling the sustainable growth and development of the South African economy. This is one of the reasons we have taken a leading role to ensure financial inclusion of the unserved and underserved communities.

Q: Has this approach to leadership capital yielded positive results for Nedbank?

Certainly - by making leadership a collective responsibility of all Nedbank employees, we have inspired a spirit of camaraderie where the entire organisation is embracing the opportunity to lead and take charge of their outputs. Because of this buy-in, we are able to live our purpose which is to use our financial expertise to do good for individuals, families, businesses and society.

In 2021, Nedbank was ranked the eighth most valuable brand among top 50 SA companies for the second year in a row. The value of the brand-by-brand finance is estimated at R15-billion. During the 2021 financial year, Nedbank saw a continuation of this trend through brand sentiment rankings, having consistently ranked as the number two bank in social media brand sentiment as measured by Salesforce Social Studio. While these and other accolades are notable acknowledgements for our hard work and commitment to living our purpose in everything we do, we are proud that our inspiration to be better stems from the culture of collective leadership which has been entrenched in the business by our human-centred approach.

We strongly believe that every person within the organisation has the potential, and certainly the responsibility, to be a leader.