Author and speaker, Brand Pretorius is the recently retired chief executive of McCarthy Limited. Brand currently serves as a non-executive director on the boards of the Barclays Africa Group, Reunert, Metair, Tata Africa Holdings and Tongaat Hulett. He is the non-executive chairman of Italtile Limited. Brand is also a member of the advisory boards of the international consultancy firm Alexander Proudfoot as well as the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa.
The Importance of Service | I love South Africa and this country has done so much for me that I feel I need to repay it. I am therefor now doing my own version of national service, through my involvement with the Read Educational Trust, The Free Market Foundation, Business Against Crime, The Valued Citizens Initiative and The National Business Initiative.
The one wonderful thing about this country is that because there is just so much to be done and because the needs out there are so overwhelming, there are an unlimited number of ways for one to make a difference. The last thing we can afford to do is to be passive and to just sit on the sidelines.
My Definition Of Leadership | I don’t believe leadership has got anything to do with position or power, but it has everything to do with influence. Through the power of your example you need to earn the trust and the respect of your team.
If you are really bold and courageous you should love your people, (not unconditional love, because people need to deliver results). You must show and exhibit respect, you must involve them, empower them and care for them. That is when a team really performs.
Servant Leadership | Great leaders understand the essence of Servant Leadership and exhibit a willingness to serve which comes from the heart. Humility is an absolute prerequisite. You can not just say it, you need to be it. The source of servant leadership is the heart and there must be an absolute conviction that to optimize your influence and to achieve greatness, your prerequisite must be to first serve one’s people.
On Inspiring Others | It’s imperative for a Leader to radiate hope, passion and energy because these are all sources of inspiration. The temptation is to just manage one’s people, to make sure you know that they are well organized and that they are well controlled. But well managed people aren’t necessarily motivated or inspired. In many instances well-managed people feel de-motivated because they have been controlled into the ground.
On Empowering Others | We talk about the potential that is there in people, and the lesson that I learnt was that I didn’t trust enough and I didn’t empower enough. I underestimated the potential of people.
Empowerment should follow an orderly and structured approach in order to mitigate any risk of non-performance. This should be done through personal development plans with structured coaching and mentoring.
Create A Better Tomorrow | The first task of any leader is to provide direction and to have the courage to go first and create a better tomorrow for one’s followers.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | I had an opportunity to meet Mr Togo, the man who established Toyota in the United States in the early 60’s. He was about 1.5 meters tall, couldn’t speak a word of English, yet he was incredibly successful. I asked him, “Togo San, how did you manage to earn so much influence?”, and he said to me, “Brand San, my shoes were my office.” And that was just such a powerful lesson for me.
Being There in Person | There is no substitute for personal visibility when it comes to leadership. There is nothing to match the power of presence, to look people in the eyes, to engage them in meaningful discussions and to listen to them. This still remains the most powerful mechanism to show people that you respect and care about them and for them to experience your humanity. For people to become inspired, they need to sense the power of your ideals and the strength of your spirit and humanity.
The Role Of Business | Business is not just about the numbers. Business is about much more than that, specifically in a country like South Africa. We can’t afford to only be selfish capitalists and hide behind the walls of our business. We must reach out and accept responsibility for the state of the country and actively work to make the country a better place.
The Importance of Reading | Every day I try and broaden my perspective and deepen my insight. I have come short on numerous occasions where I had superficial knowledge and gave an opinion with confidence, and then had a person in the room saying, “But Brand, have you thought of this, and that?” Issues tend to be multi-dimensional, so you need to know the facts from every angle and you gain this through reading.
Lessons I’ve Learnt | What I learnt over the years is that the power of your example, the consistency of your communication and the degree of visibility are the things that make all the difference.
Life Focus | I still want to make a difference, I still want to learn more, and I enjoy giving. So I split my ‘new’ life into three parts; Learning, Teaching and Service.
Make A Difference | Because it is the essence of a humans purpose.
Constant Learning Curve | I now serve on many companies boards which are all outside of the motor industry, and I’m on an incredible learning curve because of this. I know nothing or little about financial services or about sugar and engineering companies, so the learning process is very stimulating and it provides me with a lot of energy. I want to always continue to learn.
Inspired By Ghandi | Years ago I read a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, and he said, “Live as if today is your last day, and learn as if you’re going to live forever”.
The Meaning of Life | I want to live a life of significance, and I still have a long journey ahead of me. I want to leave a good legacy, not from an egotistical point of view but because I believe that is everyone’s purpose in life.
The essence of human purpose is to make a difference, and our country needs us now just as much as any other time. There are just so many opportunities where one can reach out and touch lives and that is my focus. However, it is such a fulfilling journey and I receive a lot more than what I give.