​With such an inspirational speech that left everyone at the AHI Conference with goosebumps, we would love to share the words of the recipient of the MS Louw Award at the Gala evening – Brand Pretorius, we salute you.


Christo Botes – President AHI

Bernard Swanepoel – Incoming President AHI


* Thank Christo, Bernard and the other members of the committee for this honour.

* I am humbled by your kind words and this prestigious award which has been bestowed on me.

* In my view I am not worthy of such special recognition, but I accept it in humility and with enormous gratitude.

* I feel deeply privileged because I hold the AHI as an organization in high esteem, and when I look at previous recipients of the MS Louw award, I feel particularly honoured.

* This recognition means so much to me and will inspire me to continue trying to make a difference to our wonderful country South Africa, and all its people.

* Please be assured of my best endeavours to be a worthy recipient of this prestigious award, and once again, a sincere thank you for this great honour!

*Christo asked me to share a few thoughts with you regarding the most important leadership lessons I learnt during my career in business spanning 43 years.

*Why did we select leadership as my topic?

*We wanted to align my topic with the theme of the conference earlier today, namely how to create a successful business.

*A pre-requisite for a successful business is effective leadership.


*Leadership really matters – to quote John Maxwell: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

*I liken it to electricity: When there is quality leadership the lights are on – people have direction and are motivated and inspired.

*On the other hand, should there be poor leadership people figuratively speaking spend their days in the dark without hope, completely disengaged, unmotivated.

*The inevitable consequence of a lack of competent leadership is poor results.

*Conclusion: Effective leadership represents any organisation’s most potent competitive advantage, it is the source of every great achievement, the bedrock of every extra-ordinary life!


* Should one assess the quality of political leadership in South Africa at present, then the conclusion is unfortunately that there is a severe shortage of high integrity, competent, focused leadership.

*I say it with sadness and not with glee that we have a President who provides no direction, who has no moral authority, who accepts no responsibility and who sets a very poor example in terms of principles and values, and his ability to get the job done.

*Let me admit immediately that the effectiveness of leadership in the private sector also leaves much room for improvement.

*The results of recent independent and scientific surveys measuring employee engagement, indicate a concerning picture regarding employee commitment.

*Many employees are switched off, devoid of purpose.

*Work for many has become a life sentence, a necessary evil to be endured. (Tracey Swanepoel)

*In my opinion it reflects poorly on the quality of leadership – it is not the employee’s fault.


* It is definitely not to get people to obey instructions, to do what they are told – that is domination.

*It is to inspire them to work together towards the attainment of the same vision, share the same values.

*It is to get them to volunteer their intelligence, energy, loyalty and contribution.

*To accept co-responsibility, to feel that they belong, that they are respected, trusted and appreciated.

*To be motivated, inspired and fully engaged. When it comes to engagement, leadership is the key.

*And most importantly, the delivery of outstanding results on a sustainable basis!


*No, it is not as human behaviour is not always predictable.

*Leadership is therefore both and art and a science.

*At Toyota I learnt a little bit about leadership from success – everything kept going right.

*At McCarthy I learnt a lot from failure, as we had to rescue the company from bankruptcy.

*I am now going to share with you in humility but with conviction what I learnt, what I believe in and what I stand for from a leadership perspective.


6.1Before you can lead others, you need to master the leadership of self.

*Prerequisites for effective leadership of self are a high level of moral and emotional intelligence, self discipline and perseverance. The latter is the ultimate talent!

6.2Leadership has got nothing to do with power, position and authority; it has everything to do with influence, which has to be earned by setting the right example and by delivering results.

Good leaders are effective influencers.

6.3There is a big difference between management and leadership, and the majority of teams are over managed and under led.

*Leadership is about faith, people, passion and purpose. It is about giving direction, having the courage to go first, about inspiration and motivation.

*Management is about planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling.

*Both functions are very important: Leadership when it comes to motivation and inspiration, and management when it comes to effective execution.

*One needs to understand the differences and strike the right balance between leading and managing.

6.4One cannot lead on “autopilot” or by emulating somebody else – you need to develop your own authentic leadership approach or philosophy.

*Very popular option – just be an autocratic boss. Use your positional power and authority. Intimidate people, rule by fear – perpetuate the tyranny of the boss.

*Does not work anymore – it only results in reluctant compliance, no sense of belonging. It is the mortal enemy of energy and motivation.

*I believe that servant leadership is the answer. Great leaders realize that to lead is to serve.

*They know that before they can ask for a hand, they need to touch a heart.

*They realize that people who are cared for are more productive, engaged and committed; that leaders are servants in the first instance.

*I learnt that people are motivated more by love than by fear.

*I learnt that a caring attitude underpinned by a willingness to serve, and the imperative to deliver results, are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they form a powerful partnership.

*Servant leaders are bold, but not bullies; humble, but not timid; gentle, but fearless; firm but fair; rigorous when it comes to results but not ruthless when it comes to people; kind but not weak.

*I learnt that servant leadership, provided it comes from your heart, really works….even in the tough world of business.

6.5Ethical leadership is a prerequisite for effective leadership.

*The most essential attribute of a leader is integrity – it is the crucial currency of leadership.

*Leadership starts from within, with a person’s character. It is all about character, not charisma.

*Effective leadership is principle centered, not personality based.

*Leadership is not a way of behaving; it is a way of being.

*The leaders I respect have integrity in all dimensions of their lives. They anchor their behavior and decisions in the right principles and values, at all times.

*They stand up for what they believe in, even should they stand alone.

*Effective leaders earn everybody’s trust. They realize that trust is the foundational value for leadership, that it is the one thing that changes everything.

*They know that trustworthiness which stems from ethical behavior 24/7, is at the core of sustainable leadership success!

6.6The acid test of leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality, to deliver results, to get the job done.

*Effective execution is key – ideas and plans are nothing, implementation is everything.

*Only results are rewarded, not effort.

*Promises mean nothing. You cannot afford to feed your people on a never ending diet of promises. Promises not kept turn into lies and leaders who lie eventually lose all their influence and therefore their ability to lead.

*Effective leaders are visionary, principled, inspirational and of critical importance, they have mastered the skill of execution. They get the job done!


*In my conversation with you I amplified the importance of leadership.

*Whether you lead a country, a community, a business or a family, it is THE critical success factor – it really matters.

*Effective leadership can turn weakness into strength, obstacles into stepping stones, despondency into hope – that is how important leadership is.

*Inspirational leaders are the light switches in their homes, in their communities and in their organizations, every morning.

*I shared with you some of the important leadership lessons I learnt. I trust that I have left you with something of value.

*My hope and prayer is that all of you will join hands with me in my quest to improve the quality of leadership in our country.

*Please accept co-responsibility as all of us are leaders – even those of us without titles.

*We are the leaders we have been waiting for!

*Let us then all lead and not mislead. Let us suppress our egos and build our characters, cultivate the capacity to care and the willingness to serve. We must also prize truth, respect, results and service above power, status and self-importance.

*Yes, let us all stand for the truth, for the affirmation of the good.

*Through our actions we should inspire people around us to dream more, learn more, do more and even become more……

*I wish each and every one of you every success with your personal leadership challenge!

Thank you.

Brand Pretorius

11 October 2016