Great leaders are best found during crisis. We only need to think Churchill, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and we could name many, many more – all found in the time of greatest need.

Yet the world is experiencing one of the longest and most difficult global downturns in living memory, yet we are struggling to find, those inspiring and visionary leaders who will lead us out of the dark times and back towards recovery.

The world needs a great leader now. Who will be the world next great leader? Where is he/she coming from? When will he show up?

If we ever needed a strong leader for this world, we need one now, but the issue is we only need to look along the front benches of the political world power houses and I have to say we are not spoilt for leadership talent.

America ditched Mitt Romney and made it bet on Obama. UK is still struggling with to have a natural leader from a 3 man team of Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and a faltering David Cameron.

Germany and Europe are banking their hopes on Angela Merkel. Russian has gone back for Putin. Is there a natural, inspiring, visionary leader in the roll call?

Maybe we have to turn our searchlight to the world of sports, or perhaps the religious world can also give us a leader. Let me hear your views?



Have you ever searched for yourself online? If not, try it. Make sure you are logged out of all Goggle or other search engine accounts, clear your internet browser’s history and cookies then search your name online to see what comes up. Are you surprised by anything? Do you see things you would want your relatives, friends or future employer to see? If so, you’re in good shape. If not, you have some work to do to clean up your digital brand.

Online searches are becoming just as important as your credit report when it comes to your personal brand. When you apply for a credit card or any other credit facility, the bank or finance company is required to do a standard credit check. Likewise, when you apply for jobs, employers are looking at your digital brand to help determine whether you are a good fit for their organisation.

Don’t believe me? According to research 37% of employers are using social media to research job candidates. Facebook and Linkedin are the top two social media networks used by employers.

Cleaning Your Digital Brand

How can you clean up your digital brand? Start now. Be conscious of the type of things you post on social media networks and who might see them. No matter whether your profile is public or private, posts can be found. So keep it clean. ‘’Keeping it clean”” means not using provocative photos or language, not demonstrating bad communication skills and not defaming your own character. If you want to tidy up your social media profiles, start with your photo and work your way through status update. What you post can say a lot about you, and you always want to put your best foot forward. Some posting and status updates can come off very wrong to potential employers if they are browsing your timeline.

Growth of Social Media

Social net works are growing every day. According to recent research social networks and blogs now account for nearly a quarter of the time that people spend on the internet. With the internet’s rapid growth, protecting your digital brand is becoming a critical part of building your reputation. With a few keystrokes, anyone can find out where you live, where you are from and view anything you have on your twitter, facebook, or linkedin profile.

I don’t mean to take the fun out of expressing yourself on social media, but when you’re posting your next photo or status update, ask yourself, “How would I explain this to my boss, my friends, my relatives?’’

Keep the fun in your expression online but watch what you post as it forms part of your digital brand.

Adapted: NSBE



There is no doubt that 2012 was a difficult year for financial institutions and banks. Again financial institutions and banks found themselves too often in the news for the wrong reasons. This damaged trust in banks, which was already at low ebb.

The behaviours which made those headlines in 2012 underlined how banking as a whole had lost its way, and had lost touch with the values on which banking reputation and trust were built.

Over a period of almost 20 years, banking has become too aggressive, too focused on the short-term, too disconnected from the needs of their customers and clients, and wider society.

There was a tendency to pursue short-term profits at the expense of the values and reputation of the organisation; a tendency to choose profit over values-driven business.  In doing so banks damaged their ability to make long-term sustainable returns.

Values-driven business

But banking will only be valuable business if it is values-driven business; banking will be valuable business if banks operate to the highest standards of behaviour with integrity.

There is no choice between profits and values-driven business in banking business and to place them as opposites fundamentally misunderstands the problems facing the banking sector.

Banking business is built on having a firm commitment to strong values. This is not something banks should do for public relations or political benefit. It should not be a window dressing gimmick. It should be how banks should be run to become valuable and sustainable institutions.

Banking Reforms

The time for reform is now. Banks should reform and the reform should be values-based reform. Banks should look afresh at what they want to achieve and how they want to do it. Banks should reflect on their history which shows how banks and what banks can achieve when grounded in strong values.  And by remaining grounded and committed in strong values, then banks can be institutions that does the right thing for colleagues, customers and clients, and indeed all of their stakeholders.

Agreeing and having a strong commitment to strong values is one part of the equation, the easy part of any banking reform. The difficult challenge is to ensuring everyone in the organisation live by them all of the time.

Aside making sure every staff is aware of the values, banks should make sure the values play apart in how bank measure individual and business performance. Performance assessment must be based on the ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW’. Bank must ensure they reward people for making the bank money in a way consistent with their values. Rewards should be link to the upholding of the values.


Banks have been around for centuries. Their success and longevity has been based on integrity and its attention to customers and clients. When Banks have forgotten that, they have paid the price. If Banks continue to combine the right values with the right strategy, banks will build more successful business in the years and decades that follow.

No bank can continue to be successful – nor do they deserve to be successful – unless they live by their values. The business of banking is values-driven business.

Global Financial Crisis: Five years on and no end in sight


The global financial crisis, triggered in 2007 by the United States housing bubble bursting, has recently passed the five year mark with no end in sight. The crisis, described by many commentators as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, is unlikely to pass without causing more pain for ordinary middle class people and those in the lower economic strata.

The Start of the Crisis

The start of the crisis can be dated back to August 2007 when the French global banking group BNP Paribas terminated withdrawals from three hedge funds citing “a complete evaporation of liquidity”.

The bursting of the US housing bubble followed and caused the values of securities tied to the US to nosedive. In the modern “global village” it rapidly hit financial institutions worldwide.

The crisis exposed the unsustainable situation created by US government policies that encouraged home ownership with loans for sub-prime borrowers, the overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages based on the assumption of a perpetual increase in the value of real estate, and questionable trading practices.

The situation was worsened by over-complicated mathematical formulas used by financial markets and the lack of adequate capital holdings by banks and insurance companies to cover their exposures.

The uncertainty about the solvency of banks and other financial institutions led to the tightening of credit, international trade declined and economies across the globe shrank.

Government & central bank Action

Governments and central banks responded with unprecedented fiscal stimulus, monetary policy expansion and the bail-out of banks and other financial institutions. The net effect of this was the shifting of debt burdens onto the shoulders of taxpayers worldwide, especially in the developed world.

Over time, the eye of the storm morphed into a sovereign debt crisis, particularly in Europe. Fears for sovereign debt defaults by several European countries, and eventually even by the US, remain real.

While central banks are flooding cash-strapped industrialised nations with money it helps governments to reduce their debt load. At the same time however it also erodes the value of people’s income and savings. Some commentators refer to this process as a massive upward redistribution of wealth. And, especially at the bottom of the economic pyramid ordinary people are also at the receiving end of austerity measures taken by governments aimed at softening their deficits.

What governments are effectively doing to lower their debt levels in real terms is what has been done since the time of Cleopatra in Egypt when she replaced gold coins with much cheaper copper coins: they are devaluing their currencies.

Inflation Dangers

In the process huge inflation dangers are waiting in the wings. A poll conducted in September by the German companies Faktenkontor and Toluna found that one in four Germans is already trying to protect his or her savings from the threat of inflation by investing in material assets.

Governments and central banks are constantly buying time by fighting the debt crisis with monetary injections of previously unheard of proportions and the side effect is a slow but dangerous devaluation of money.

While official inflation rates are still moderate (1.7% in the U’S and 2.6% in the euro zone) they are based on consumer price indexes and do not reflect what is happening with major asset purchases such as real estate. This “unofficial” category of inflation in asset values is already taking place in the financial markets and new price bubbles are being fed with cheap money from central banks, as well as by investors and savers fleeing into what they regard as safe material assets.

It is also a reality that in the present extremely low interest environment, even the lowest inflation eats away at people’s reserves and savings.

In the US the Federal Reserve prime rate has been at zero since the end of 2008, and has just been extended at this non rate by chairman Ben Bernanke.

In the meantime US government debt has exceeded the $16 trillion threshold with inflation about the only viable option to reduce it. The alternative of a massive saving through austerity measures and higher unemployment rates is politically most unattractive.

In the wake of the strong global integration of economies in the 1990s the competition for export markets has increased currency devaluation. One of the symptoms of this is the increasing talk of a currency war between the US and China and to a lesser extent Europe. It also creates a gap between the financial economy and the real economy.

Payday will come

For the investor and especially middle-class people attempting to provide for retirement and create wealth for future generations, the biggest challenge has become not return on investment but rather retention of value.

How and when the end of the present financial debt crisis will come about is almost impossible to predict. What is certain is that the settlement of the debt burden cannot be avoided for ever.

One way or another payday will come and it looks to be inevitable that a substantial part of that tab will be picked up by the middle class.

by Piet Coetzer


The past

Years back, students graduated from schools with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

40/50 years back, graduates left campuses knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities around the world and knowing nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.

They learnt a lot at campuses about new ideas in economics and politics and exposed to the big advances being made in science and technology.

But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity, reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

The present

These were the days gone by. But how about the now – 21st century.

Thanks to advances in technology (TV, internet etc) students know or should know more about the world’s inequities than the classes who came before them and they should be taught to think – about how in this age of accelerating technology, they can take on inequities in the world and solved them.

Millions of children are dying every year in developing countries from diseases (Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, and yellow fever) that had long ago made harmless in developed countries. If every life has equal value then some lives should not be seen as worth saving and others not. All lives deserve the priority of the world.

The question

The question we have to ask ourselves is how come that the world is not able to save these children with all the resources at its disposal. The answer is simple albeit harsh. Market forces do not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it. So children die because their mothers and their fathers had no power in the market and no voice in the system.

So the next question is how can we face this challenge? How can we as nations do the most good for the greatest number of people with the resources we have at our disposal?

Creative Capitalism

We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.

If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.

Complexity – Barrier to Change

The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity. Complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter. To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact.

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and making the smartest application of the technology.

Sharing to Inspire

The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of our work and share our successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

But if we want to inspire more people to participate; we have to convey the human impact of the work – so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.

We can’t get people excited unless we can help them see and feel the impact.


Yes, inequity has been with us forever, but the new tools we have to cut through complexity have not been with us forever. They are new – they can help us make the most of our caring – and that’s why the future can be different from the past.

The defining and ongoing innovations of this age – biotechnology, the computer, the Internet – give us a chance we’ve never had before to end extreme poverty and end death from preventable disease.

We can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them. We shouldn’t let complexity stop us.

We have technology that earlier generations never had. We have awareness of global inequity, which earlier generations did not have. And with that awareness, we also have an informed conscience that will torment us if we abandon these people whose lives we could change with very little effort.

We have more than they had; We must start sooner, and carry on longer.

Knowing what we know, how could we not?

9/11 Legacy – A day that changed the world

Defining moment

The world today is a far different place than the one before the fateful morning of 11 September 2001.

Whether the world has become a better and safer place remains an open question and it a question over which opinions differ and differ strongly.

There can be no doubt that what happened on 11 September 2001 was a defining moment in history. The visuals of two planes crashing into the Twin Towers and another into the Pentagon, the symbol of ultimate power, will stay etched into the memory of the people who saw it first hand or followed the drama unfolding on TV.

Much that has happened over the past 11 years in hot spots around the globe can be traced back to that eventful day.

Intriguing observation

One perceptive analyst made the intriguing observation that horrendous as it was, the cruel murder of over 2000 civilians after the second of the towers collapsed was not the only major crime of that day. It also initiated a war of retaliation and revenge with consequences that will still be felt for years to come.

On the evening of 11 September 2001, President George W. Bush declared a global war on terror when he told the American nation that “we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them.”

Originally justified to hunt down those who ordered and were involved in planning the  murder of thousands of innocent people– many not American –  the war on terror has become a terror war.

The cost to Africa

The killing of Osama bin Laden may have quenched the American desire for revenge, but there is the prospect that it may further radicalise Islamic fundamentalists to continue bin Laden’s mission. The evidence is there for all to see that bin Laden’s “crusade” did not die with him. Al-Qaeda might have lost their charismatic leader but his legacy lives on and has found acceptance in parts of Africa.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Ansar Dine in Mali are all to a more or lesser degree franchises of al-Qaeda and primed to further bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s ideals in Africa.

This in turn has attracted US interest and Africa is firmly in the crosshairs of those in charge of the global war on terror. General Carter Ham, commanding officer of Africom, the US regional military command for Africa, does not mince his words; “Countering the threats posed by al-Qaeda affiliates in  Africa remains my number one priority.”

Africa can but hope that something similar never happens again.

Garth Cilliers  (Leadership Intelligence Bulletin)