People-centred and conscious leadership: A must for organisations to survive

People-centred and conscious leadership: A must for organisations to survive

Twenty to thirty years ago, conversations about the environment and climate change started appearing. At that time, there were rumours that icebergs at the North Pole were melting, plastic waste was killing marine life, toxic waste was being pumped into rivers, and exhaust fumes from cars and factory chimneys was poisoning the air. Immediately, some of us were convinced that these things were true, and we changed the way we lived. However, most of us were in denial, either thinking that it wasn’t true, or feeling that it was OK because it didn’t affect us personally. Like ostriches, we stuck our heads in the sand, not wanting to see and hear how the climate and environment around us was slowly changing. Activists had a continual uphill battle of raising awareness and educating people about climate change; it’s devastating, destroying our planet, and it’s here to stay! They encouraged people to take drastic action now, not in years to come.

Fast forward to 2020, where we have constant validation that the climate has changed. There are heatwaves in countries who aren’t used to such high temperatures, droughts, flooding, volcanic eruptions, earth tremors, cyclones, and devastating forest fires. We can no longer be ostriches and say that the warnings we received two decades ago are not our current reality.


People-centred and conscious leadership mindset

I feel we’ve reached the exact same thing in organisations where, for the last ten years, conversations have been around shifting from a profit-centred to a people-centred mindset. Many organisations are in denial and rigidly follow an industrial-era type business model with top-down hierarchies, focusing on making short-term profits, driving strategic goals, and maximising shareholder returns. At the core there is nothing wrong with this business approach, as organisations exist to make profits and be competitive. However, the model has lost its people-centred focus. The human element is missing, and people are often seen as a commodity that can easily be replaced, similar to a piece of machinery. But people are not machines, and they cannot be treated as such. They have hearts, emotions, goals, and individual strengths. Everyone is unique and has so much to offer. Your people are your organisation’s biggest asset, not your biggest liability!

Like environmental activists, I am the well-being, people-centred activist who wants to make you aware that leaders must adjust their style and mindset for future organisation success. You can, of course, be in denial, like we did with the environment, but the results are not going to be what you want in the years to come. Do your best to bring conscious leadership into your organisation now, because it’s a strategic change that requires time to roll out and implement. It needs time because it involves an entire culture change. I know that this concept may be scary, but it need not be if it’s done in small steps. Carrying on the way you’re doing business right now will have long-term negative consequences because the climate of organisations is changing drastically. Introducing conscious leadership into your organisation will keep you ahead of the curve; don’t wait to jump on the band wagon.


What is Consciousness?

Consciousness is about being fully-present and aware; directing your attention to what’s happening to you in the moment on a thinking, feeling, and sensing level. It’s about paying attention without judgement, or attachment to your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It takes you out of the reactive, knee-jerk reaction we all fall prey to, and allows you to be introspective. When you are conscious, you can focus your attention inward for a minute or two and explore what’s going on for you. What’s going through your mind, what emotions are you feeling, and what is your gut telling you? Becoming consciously aware allows you to take a step back from a situation, out of ego-mode, and to openly assess what is happening for you as well as for others. Ultimately, it allows you to make ethical decisions, and to find solutions to complex scenarios. Living more consciously raises your level of empathy and compassion, which in turn results in being more flexible in your thinking, more solution-orientated. In this way, we can build stronger relationships, and we can also support those around us.


What is Conscious Leadership?

From a leadership point of view, conscious leadership means being present, fully connected, and authentic with your team. It involves making a mental mind shift to lead in the new leadership way that straddles both the importance of making profit as well as caring about the team’s well-being, and being people-centred. The focus is on long-term sustainability rather than short-term gains, and for that change you need to invest in your people and their well-being. Like the call for us to stop abusing the planet, here is the call for us to make an organisational shift and bring in conscious leadership.

Fred Kofman, author of the book Conscious Business, says that a conscious leader shows responsibility, humility, collaborative communication, win-win conflict resolution, integrity, emotional mastery, and excellent self-awareness. Reading these criteria, one can see that conscious leadership has a soft side that is very people-centred. It’s something that goes deep and cannot be reached when rigidly adhering to, and honouring, processes and procedures. It has an element of vulnerability, of not knowing the answers, of not controlling or managing people, and of being curious and open-minded to situations. It is this vulnerability that makes leaders uncomfortable and afraid to shift into conscious leadership. But, it if you want your organisation to remain competitive, you need to take the bold step and instil a people-centred culture and shift to a conscious leadership style. Start with these three small, and non-overwhelming steps.


Three non-overwhelming steps

  1. Buffer your reactive knee-jerk reactions: Only through bringing in mindful consciousness can you become fully present in the moment and register what a trigger is doing to you. Learn to take five deep breaths, count to 20, or take a 10-minute walk before you respond. Find yourself a visual reminder to assist in these sorts of situations, and find a place to stick this reminder where you’ll see it easily. Once you’ve cooled off and put some distance between yourself and the situation, reflect on how you’re feeling at the time and what you ideally want from it. Then communicate that in an open and positive way.
  2. Take full accountability for a situation: As difficult as this may sound, a conscious leader takes ownership and responsibility for a situation that didn’t go according to plan. Learn to not shift into a victim mentality, or blaming others, but rather understand how your leadership behaviour and actions have contributed to the problem. This is a combination of looking inward and then outward, rather than just outward, which is our autopilot mode. Once you can see that you are part of the problem, you can be part of the solution and navigate it in the direction you want it to go.
  3. Act, think, and behave with intention: Learning to bring intention to everybody and everything you engage with requires that you decide upfront how you are going to show up. Bring awareness to how you want to come across when you interact with your team and what you want to experience in a situation. If you would like to enjoy your day at the office, have a pleasant experience doing your job, and a solid connection with your team, you have to set this intention upfront, because then that’s exactly what will happen! Even when things don’t go according to plan, you’ll consciously decide to look for solutions and not for this situation to derail you.


You may only be able to remain in denial for a very short time, but the writing is on the wall. Organisations who don’t want to fail, downsize, or close down, will eventually have to make the shift to a people-centred culture. Start today with small steps and keep working on it bit by bit as change takes time both from a mindset and from an implementation point of view.

Is it Time for an Organisational Health Check?

Is it Time for an Organisational Health Check?

People have returned from their holidays and work hasn’t completely taken off full swing just yet. The energy is still high and people are filled with optimism for the new year and its potential. However, as time passes our enthusiasm and energy generally starts to slow down and eventually tapers off, which is often when an organisational health check is needed.

Routine, structure and constant deadlines often lead to lower levels of motivation, morale and engagement. It is not unusual for companies to use this time to strategise about the next twelve month’s goals and plans, setting the organisation’s direction and determining the measurement indicators that will show that they are moving forward and by how much. So, as part of the annual strategy process can we take the time to do an organisational health check? A process that can determine where your employees are right now and what level of health your organisation is at right now?

In reality, this seldom happens, if ever at all. For some unexplainable reason, we often think that employees’ overall health is constantly good, but is it? We tend to put together our plans of the year without checking if our employees are whole-heartedly behind it. This can become a costly oversight that will become evident in the months to come- as engagement wanes. A strategy is only as successful as the people who need to execute it. But what is the organisational health check?


Why Do an Organisational Health Check?

There might be a gap that has developed silently and slowly and this is where the desired reality and the current reality are no longer aligned. This process is usually gradual and can easily go unnoticed until our staff fall short of our expectations and unseen crises become more frequent. It’s like a murmur that leaders have to be very attuned to so they can feel the heartbeat of the organisation is strong.

We can use our bodies as an analogy, sometimes we might feel the odd ache or pain which disappears for some time and reappears unexpectedly. In the beginning, it’s an odd ache or pain we ignore however over time if not attended to, it can develop into a serious illness. The murmurs were there all along but we were not mindful of our health and did not see or hear the warning signs- which can lead to serious organisational health issues.

An Organisational Health Check is how we become aware and vigilant of the warning signs within our organisations, staff and teams.


Four Questions to Ask During an Organisational Health Check

  1. Does our vision statement still excite our teams?
  2. Do our people get a sense of belonging?
  3. Is the mission worthwhile pursuing?
  4. Are the values still shared and actively lived out?

These four questions are a good starting point for any company to ask on a regular basis. Speak to your teams to get answers, and tune in and listen to the inner voice. Listen for the unspoken. If this is left undetected for too long the process to change can take quite some time – this is the time during which the strategy i.e. goals are slowed down, or worse not achieved at all. Of course, we can choose to ignore the health check results and push the strategy through, but it will backfire. If you want to successfully accomplish your company’s strategy, then it’s important to learn to take your teams with you and work collectively on the same goals.


How 4Seeds Can Help

4Seeds are a team of expert facilitators and coaches who support companies before, during and after an Organisational Health Check. With our toolbox of assessments and evidence-based strategies, we can help your organisation thrive, individually and collectively. We are the company doctor- and we are always on call. Contact us at to find out how we can support the health of your organisation.

Why Personal Growth should be a priority

Why Personal Growth should be a priority

Setting out on a journey of personal growth and development can seem somewhat overwhelming. And, if you’re like most other people, your New Year’s resolutions will probably be history by the end of January.

Personal growth or development is difficult to define, in part because it’s, well, personal.

Personal growth is the process of growing stronger, more confident, more effective as a person, and of being an agent of change in your own life. More specifically, it relates to how you see and perceive yourself, interact with others, engage with the world, and envision your future and possibilities.

Personal growth will also lead to professional gains. There’s an undeniable overlap between the two; after all, our personal strengths and weaknesses affect us in whatever we do. And there are many ways where growing personally – and working on ourselves – can make us more efficient and happier in the workplace.

If you’re setting out on a journey of personal growth, where should you start?

True personal growth and development starts with making a decision. As individuals, we all harbour aspirations and dreams, yet we rarely stop and think about our future in detail. Think about this: would you let a contractor build your house without a plan? No! Then why do you allow yourself to go through life that way?

Setting out a personal growth plan helps you know where you’re headed and how to get there. It will bring clarity to your thinking, and you’ll know exactly where you want to be and how you want to get there. Furthermore, it will give you peace of mind that you’re headed in the right direction; your efforts will feel more deliberate, and your decisions will be easier to make.

Five steps to help you build your personal growth plan

Know yourself

This is probably the most important and most difficult step. Personal development is closely linked to self-awareness. It gives you the opportunity to take an honest look at the areas of your life that need improvement. Through this process, you’ll get to know who you are, what your values are, and where you would like you go in life.

Understanding yourself and what you want is vital. It’s about asking yourself the hard questions, and being truthful so that you can focus on the areas that you’ve outlined for improvement. For example, what are your weaknesses, your dreams, your professional goals, your personal needs, and what’s holding you back? Do you want to be more successful in your career? Do you want to have better personal relationships? What do you really want from life?

Set your goals

Having clearly-defined personal development goals can improve your performance in any area of your life, yet the benefit depends on the effort you put in to achieve those goals. You need to stop making vague intentions to lose weight, save money, or aim for a promotion, and start making specific and actionable goals. By doing this, you’ll start to achieve your personal and professional development goals, and will be able to track your progress and measure your success.

Setting goals and working towards them every day can give you renewed confidence, happiness, and passion for life and in the workplace. Your mindset is everything, so whatever your goals are, set them out, use timeframes, and make an effort every day to work towards them!

Create a plan

The key here is to write down specific actions for the future based on the goals you’ve set for yourself. Personal growth and development is a lifelong journey, and like any journey you’ll want to create a plan to help you reach your destination. Start by setting specific projects or tasks, and then note the actions needed to carry them out. What do you need to get them done? How are you going to do them? What skills do you need to help you get further? Remember that life changes rapidly and that we need to change with it, so it is wise to constantly review your plan and adapt it if necessary.

Get better each day

It’s really about creating new healthy habits in your life in order to reach your goals through the plan you’ve set for yourself. Self-growth is an ongoing process of constant learning and adapting, and gives you the opportunity to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and to work on them. The benefits are that you’ll grow as a person while growing your skills; you’ll improve your self-awareness, and you’ll boost your confidence. Once you start to achieve your goals, you’ll naturally begin to feel good about yourself and will want to get better and better each day.

Get out of your comfort zone

The common focus on personal growth comes from people’s desire to be successful in life. And while it’s true that continuous personal development will earn you success in your personal and professional life, your personal development goals will not do you any favours unless you follow through by acting on them. So, in short, in order to grow and achieve growth, you have to step out, sometimes into the unknown, in order to progress and achieve all that you’ve set out to achieve.

When you look at successful people, you’ll almost always discover a plan – it’s the foundation for success!

Setting out on a journey of personal growth and development can be one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Making that decision is usually the easy part; it’s the commitment to a daily habit of improvement that can be difficult. But if you know yourself, set your goals, create a plan, get better each day, and get out of your comfort zone, you’ll make huge progress in the areas of your life that are most important to you. Don’t just make it a January thing, make it an everyday thing, a plan to change your year, your future, and your life.

Set your 2020 Inner Leadership Goal

Set your 2020 Inner Leadership Goal

A new decade has dawned, and with it comes a feeling of inner knowing that things have to, and will, change. For quite some time, many of us have become aware that our current economic, business, social, cultural, and ecological situations need a drastic overhaul. There needs to be a shift in our thinking and behaviour so that we can fix the problems we’re facing in our modern world. This all starts with inner leadership.

Our traditional way of thinking won’t be enough to meet the challenges that are upon us, and a change in perspective is urgently required. As much as you may think that the current chaos in the world is not yours to solve, or even beyond your control, you can make an impactful change in your working environment by starting to shift your leadership perspective and set your 2020 leadership goal to match this.

It doesn’t matter what leadership level you hold in your company, or perhaps you aren’t in a leadership position. You don’t need a title to create change. It’s a personal and conscious decision you make. By changing your workplace, you’ll start a positive ripple effect that touches your family, your health, your social networks, and your communities. If we all take a small step forward, the collective impact will filter through to the meta level of our economy, culture, environment, and society.


A New Decade, A New Beginning: The Age of Inner Leadership

As is customary, we start the year with reflections and the desire to bring our best into the world. We earmark personal and professional areas we want to change. We want to improve our health, better our wealth, spend quality time with loved ones, study some more, find time for our hobbies, climb the corporate ladder, expand our own business, and honour work-life balance. These are all important goals to focus on, but I’d encourage you to add in a new goal of raising your consciousness.

Strive towards your true self, fulfil your potential, because that’s what motivates you and keeps you moving forward. As human beings, we want to self-actualise and become the best possible version of ourselves. To reach that goal, we have to raise our awareness and consciousness to a higher level.

By focusing on your professional and leadership competencies, you might have identified skills that you’d like to develop. These can range from soft skills such as emotional intelligence, conflict management, time management, or assertiveness, to hard skills like training in human resources. I invite you to include an area that might be new to you; something that entails growing your inner leadership.


Setting Your Inner Leadership Goals

If you’re wanting to improve and transform your leadership ability, then you’re going to need more than just soft and hard skills. You’ll need to develop your inner leadership, which means going inward and shifting your perspective.

Inner leadership is a courageous process which involves confronting yourself, and taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. Inner leadership means believing and accessing the best in yourself with love, compassion, sensitivity, and inspiration.

You need to be consciously aware of what’s happening in the physical and material world, and learn to not react to it. When you turn inwards, you’ll be able to see the interconnectedness and interdependence of people, situations, and events. In an outward approach, you can only see these things separately, and won’t understand the connection.

Going inwards requires ongoing practice, and, over time, previous limits and boundaries will disappear as you let go of fear and anxiety. Instead, you’ll gain in autonomy and confidence, and will be astonished at the learnings, opportunities, and possibilities that open up for you. Inner leadership is not a skill any leadership course will teach you. It’s a personal decision you make to take your leadership competency to an increased level.


How to Start Developing Your Inner Leadership

You might be wondering how you can develop your inner leadership. There is no shortcut here; you’ll need to practice it every day. Uplifting your consciousness means becoming aware of every situation that offers a change or a challenge. Welcome these opportunities so you can see them in an original and new way. Leave judgement and preconceived beliefs out. You’ll need to set aside some time to learn how not to be actively play the game, but to step off the pitch and watch it from the side-line. Become curious about what’s playing out in front of you, how you contribute to it, and what’s the opportunity for you. Take failures as valuable information to discover what didn’t work, and be open-minded to try another way. Also, it’s not about trying to understand the catalyst that gave rise to the situation, because it can be a situation, a thought, a feeling, or a reaction. Rather, see the interconnectedness of the situation. Don’t focus on “why did this happen?”, but rather on “what is the opportunity for change?”.

What opportunity does this situation allow for so that you can behave at your highest level?

Don’t be reactive and try to fix the weakness; rather look for the strengths in the situation and raise them. Inner leadership is a mindset shift, and one that is possible for everyone. You can raise your level of consciousness with regular awareness and practice!

I’m aware that this article might appear a little heavy and intense for our first one of the year, but it’s time for us all to actively decide to be the change we’re yearning for.

Be bold and courageous, and take the first step forward. Don’t wait for others. Take charge and set yourself the goal of embracing your inner leadership.

I know that the philosophy of inner leadership may resonate with you, or it may not. It might be something you yearn for but are fearful of starting. You may question whether you can reach this level of raised consciousness, or anxious of what will happen if you fail. Rest assured, you cannot fail! Turning inwards is a new leadership mode that expands thinking and raises consciousness. Both are needed to address the current workplace and other world challenges we’re facing.

Does Employee Loyalty Exist and How Can You Build it?

Does Employee Loyalty Exist and How Can You Build it?

I was on my way home from a client who’d just told me that they’d lost their star performer, the employee they’d invested all their hope, time, and commitment in. The client was devastated, and asked me does employee loyalty exist? Good question!

In the current working environment, the tables appear to have turned, and employees aren’t staying with one company for a long time anymore, leaving without qualms, for greener pastures. The one reason – well certainly here in South Africa – is that there is a skills shortage, which makes it easier for employees to be selective about their jobs. But could there be other reasons for why people leave their jobs? Remuneration seems like a logical answer, but when conducting deeper research, it’s not the true answer for why we lack employee loyalty. The answer is multi-layered, but can be divided into three core elements: culture, leadership, and employee happiness. I will touch on each of these aspects, but first I’d like to go back a step and explore what employee loyalty means.


Does Employee Loyalty Exist?

Yes, it does. Most would agree that employee loyalty is an employee’s commitment to working hard and being dedicated to the company’s success. It’s about putting the company’s interests first, and in return, expecting reciprocity such as stimulating work, a positive culture, growth opportunities, regular feedback, and collaboration, etc. Remuneration is a given, and is considered a fair exchange between skills, work tasks, experience, and knowledge.

In short, employee loyalty exists but remuneration doesn’t buy it- reciprocity does. This means that there needs to be a fair exchange, and herein lies the challenge. That exchange can become distorted as time goes by, with blurred lines between what the company and the employee expect from each other.


The Difference between Employee Commitment and Employee Loyalty

We need to clarify that commitment and loyalty are not the same things. Most committed employees are naturally loyal, but the reverse doesn’t necessarily hold true. Loyal employees don’t have to be committed. How can that be? Loyal employees are happy with their working environment and happy to perform their tasks. In contrast, a committed employee goes above and beyond and expects more from the company. Loyal employees will be passionate advocates for the company as long as it is good to them and satisfies their needs. A committed employee usually demands a positive working environment, growth, supportive leadership, motivated goals, and an inspiring vision from the leader.


The 3 Components of Employee Loyalty

At the beginning of this article, I said that employee loyalty is based on three things: culture, leadership, and employee happiness.


1.      Organisational Culture for Employee Loyalty

Research into culture, conducted in 2019 by TINYpulse, shows that 43% of people leave their current jobs for one that has organisational culture, even if that would involve taking a salary reduction.

Companies today are facing a culture crisis. Culture is a key differentiator for employees to stay, or to be attracted to work in your organisation. In reality, how many companies really put energy behind their culture? Most have their values stuck up on the wall and believe that a year-end function is enough to keep the culture alive. Maybe that was good enough twenty years ago, but in this current dynamic working environment, it isn’t. Not for the organisation, and not for the employee.

If you want to start changing the culture in your company, you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty because this takes time, commitment, and dedication. If you don’t put energy behind your culture, it will form itself, and it seldom develops in a positive way. Employees want to be heard, valued, and appreciated, so make that your starting point. Begin by talking to your employees and find out what frustrates and delights them about their work. You may be wondering what that has to do with culture, but the answers will assist you in establishing patterns and behaviours that need adjusting for positive growth.


2.      Good Leadership Builds Employee Loyalty

The second component is leadership. We’ve all heard so many times that employees leave leaders and not companies. But did you know that the percentage is as high as 70%? That means that with good leadership, companies have it in their control to instil employee loyalty.

We all know that in this day and age, leadership is an enormous responsibility and challenge, but it’s also an exciting one because we’re living in a time where we can explore opportunities and make decisions that shape our kids’ future. Leadership is complex, with a lot of emphasis on acquiring the necessary soft skills to lead people, and I’m a huge advocate that those are absolutely necessary. However, when I speak to employees, three common topics always come up, and I’d like to suggest that leaders start working on them.

First, employees aren’t always clear about their roles and responsibilities, as they have not been well defined. Second, they’re unsure how their work contributes to the team’s goals and therefore to the company’s success, which makes them feel that their work doesn’t matter. Third, they feel as if they’re not being listened to when they make suggestions or give ideas.


3.      Employee Happiness is Key to Employee Loyalty

The third and final component is employee happiness. I’m not talking about pool tables or Friday pizzas, but rather about getting to understand what makes people happy in the workplace. The answer might surprise you, but employees are looking for mental stimulation. They want to work on tasks that are not boring and routine-based, but ones that allow them to think and apply their skills and knowledge. I know we all have to perform standard tasks that we don’t enjoy that much but are part of our job, but it’s about mixing in activities that challenge us.

You can approach this in two ways: (1) you can assign activities to employees based on your assessment of their skills and competency, or (2) you could make a list of activities that need to be done, stick it up on the office noticeboard, and let people write their names next to the thing they want to do, preferably with a buddy. The key message here is to give employees autonomy to choose that thing that they want to step up to.

A much overlooked aspect of employee happiness, is that employees want to feel emotionally safe at work. This means that they can express themselves freely, receive support during challenging times and when they make a mistake, and are able to build trusting relationships.


In Conclusion: Employee Loyalty Exists but it Takes Effort

Employee loyalty is certainly difficult to attain, and companies have to work hard to ensure that their star performers stay. I have provided three areas for you to start working on so that you can ensure that your employees – who are your biggest asset – stay for a long time and give you the commitment and hard work that you’re expecting from them.

Don’t forget that I’m an email away if you need support. Contact me on


Three Leadership Tips on How to Motivate Employees for the Long-Run

Three Leadership Tips on How to Motivate Employees for the Long-Run

It’s every leader’s dream to have a motivated, focused, and high-performing team. Equally, it’s every employee’s desire to be motivated and inspired at work, and go home every day feeling fulfilled and satisfied. But all organisations struggle with sustained motivation, which is why we are going to offer three leadership tips on how to motivate employees for the long-run.

Without deviating too much, let’s pause for a moment and reflect on a time when you went home feeling as if you’d had a “wow” day at the office. I’m guessing that it’s been a while… Don’t feel alone; it’s not often that we have the kind of days where we were truly inspired and motivated by our work.

Leaders are frustrated that employees aren’t motivated, and employees are bored or unmotivated as their leader doesn’t give them the personal motivation that they yearn for. This is a lose-lose situation which results in headaches for both leaders and employees.

The Secret to Motivate Employees for the Long-Run

The concept of motivation in the workplace is nothing new; it’s been a conundrum which leaders have grappled with for centuries. Over time, various motivation theories have been designed by people like Maslow, Vroom, Hertzberg, Skinner,  Locke and countless others. They all have a slightly different focus, but basically all want the same: to inspire employees to be engaged at work and put in the necessary effort into their tasks. However, what the theories miss is the fact that everyone can’t be placed in the same box. They’re unique beings who are motivated, stimulated and passionate about different things. So, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and leaders have to take the time to get to know their team members really well to understand what they are passionate about and what does or doesn’t interest them. It is this personal attention that helps leaders to motivate employees for the long-run.

What makes motivation as a leader so difficult is that we tend to make three dire assumptions. Firstly, we assume that people are motivated by the same things that we are. This is seldom the case because everyone is unique with different values and belief systems, which means that a different motivation style and intensity is required. Secondly, we assume that people should be self-motivated. In an ideal world where employees are working on things that stimulate and excite them, they’ll have their own inner motivation.

However, there are many things that don’t motivate them or that are overwhelming for them, and these require managers to provide extra motivation and encouragement. Thirdly, motivation waxes and wanes depending on the progress we make on tasks. Employees need words of encouragement, feedback, and support to get through difficult periods. A kind and encouraging word carries a lot of weight.

I’m aware that we’re heading towards the end of the year and that motivation is starting to wane, however in our article Three Strategies to Keep You Motivated Towards Year End published on 8 October 2019, we provided you with ideas on how to get through the last two months of the year in a positive way.

In this article, I want to take a longer-term view on how you can make motivation part of your leadership style and influence the culture of your team. This is a competency that is built and developed over time. It’s important to remember that motivation is a way of leading; it’s something you do every day rather than when people are low, disengaged, and unmotivated. By then, you’ll have a steep road ahead to get people positive and engaged again. It is so much better to learn to do it every day in small bits so that you maintain the momentum. Make sure that the whole team feel motivated often!

Three Leadership Tips on How to Motivate Employees for the Long-Run

Build the following motivation skills into your daily leadership role and notice motivated employee’s in the long-run. Four tangible outcomes that you can use to see whether there is a change in your team’s motivation are:

(1) They communicate more often and are more open with you
(2) They share with you and others when they make mistakes
(3) They volunteer on additional projects or work
(4) They share information or knowledge with each other

Three basic things which a leader should do to ensure that they motivate employees for the long-run are:

1.    Involve the whole team in decision-making

People want to feel included and connected with their manager as well as with their colleagues. Giving them time, the most valuable resource, is a primary motivator for them because they feel valued, appreciated, and considered. Allow them to contribute in meetings, ask them to share their ideas, and listen to them. Give them the autonomy to contribute their creativity and innovation; they are often the ones doing the actual work so they generally have the best solutions.

2.    Reward people in their value language

Most people don’t mind working late or taking on extra work for a certain amount of time, but generally they want to be rewarded for it. It’s your job to know which rewards motivate employees for the long-run. Understand what they value and align the reward accordingly. To do this, you have to listen to the language they use, as that is a common give-away. Better still, you need to spend time with them to get to know them better. There is nothing more off-putting than receiving a meaningless reward after a long slog. A reward without any thought or consideration behind it will demotivate them, and it might even go so far as to break down the trust in the relationship.

3.    Accountability and fairness

It may sound odd to put these two words together, but employees are motivated by being held accountable. They want you to follow up with them on where they are, check in if they need support, and remind them of a looming deadline. You might disagree, but in the end every employee wants to know that their peers are working as hard as they are, and as per their job description. If this is not the case, then employees value it if you hold that person accountable and don’t turn a blind eye. Not addressing it with the employee will instil a feeling of unfairness which can be exceptionally demotivating. Having double standards for different people, or favouring one person over the other, are absolute no-nos. Before you have a chance to blink, a lacklustre culture will have developed and the team performance will decline. I urge you to learn this skill as early as possible.

At 4Seeds we specialise in building positive workplaces through the use of scientific, practical, and fun workshops. We develop bespoke and affordable training that is tailored to your company’s needs.

If you’re interested in developing your team or your own leaderships skills, get in touch with us on

We look forward to working with you to create community and connection in your company.

The Importance of Humanity in the Digital Future

The Importance of Humanity in the Digital Future

Modern organisations are undergoing continuous change, with expectations from consumers as well as employees increasing dramatically as our economy becomes more innovative, fast-paced, and demanding.

We’ve already begun the technological revolution, and just like the Industrial Revolution, we’re creating machines which are becoming more and more intelligent, to the point that they’re able to replace many of our physical and cognitive functions. We’re becoming even more reliant on technology to minimise inconveniences, reduce human error, and maximise our production and processing potential. While this is an incredible feat of human innovation which should be celebrated and revered, it’s becoming necessary to redefine the role of humanity in this technological future.

As computers become even more intelligent, we need to be asking what humans can bring to the table to ensure that we don’t become redundant in the face of our own inventions. While you’re reading this, there are computers which are self-learning and able to adjust, analyse, and improve their functionality without human intervention. While this is happening, we have to ask ourselves what role we want to be playing in this future we’re creating. Douglas Rushkoff, the author of Team Human, is bringing awareness to this topic. In his TED talk he says, “It’s not about rejecting the digital or rejecting the technological. It’s a matter of retrieving the values that we’re in danger of leaving behind and then embedding them into the future”.

There’s a growing body of research that shows that while technology is providing us with more convenience, greater global connections, and more efficiency, the impact of social media, for example, is detrimental to our self-esteem, which in turn boosts our depression and anxiety levels. Navigation apps reduce our brain’s ability to solve problems, orientate, and memorise.

So, what values do you think make us inherently human? Ethics, morality, scenario-planning, intuition, empathy, collaboration? And how can we harness our human capacities, so we’re able to not only cope with but engage and positively influence a world filled with technological shortcuts?

The answer is in psychological upskilling. We need to develop psychological resources to not only cope with our current conditions but to grow our innate human potential, so we’re able to stay on track with our technological advancements.

As the leaders of today’s organisations, we need to be aware of this gap and focus on the humanity behind our work. We need to be anchoring our values, discussing and devising ethical protocols and how to manage diversity and inclusion, collaborating and co-operating, as well as helping our organisations to keep connected to the meaning, purpose, and humanity of its existence, now more than ever.

At 4Seeds we are acutely aware of the importance of humanity in the modern workplace. We have made it our mission to support organisations to bridge the gap between the dehumanising digital world, and the meaningful and positive roles we play at work, which keep us motivated, productive and committed. We know that through empowering leaders, managers and employees with the psychological skills of resilience, strengths-based job crafting, value-driven team goal setting, and self-awareness, we can help you and your organisation play a vital role in the progress of humanity in the digital future.

Join us for our next Meaningful Leadership Development Programme which is taking place in Johannesburg on 13th and 14th August 2019.

Learn more about the course and book your seat or drop us an email:

Five Ways Your Workplace Can Make You an Ethical Leader

Five Ways Your Workplace Can Make You an Ethical Leader

South Africa has seen its fair share of unethical leadership in recent years, with the political and economic infrastructure being manipulated and managed for the benefit of a few. However, even though we know that this behaviour is unethical, the business world remains a complicated place with many grey areas which regularly test our moral compass.

Leaders, as the responsible people in the organisation, are often seen to be the ethical navigators and feel responsible for the misdemeanours or transgressions of others. Despite our best efforts, we cannot change the behaviour and motivation of others. However, without clarification of the expectations of the organisation, we cannot expect people to always know whether they are doing the right thing.

This does, unfortunately, mean that leaders have a role to play in ensuring that people remain within the moral conditions laid out by the organisation, and can be held accountable if these conditions are not in place.

In this article, we outline five conditions that you can apply to ensure that you are acting as an ethical leader. We hope to offer you some guidance which can protect you and your organisation from the unintended consequences of unethical behaviour.


Five Ways Your Workplace Can Make You an Ethical Leader


Codes of Conduct and Best Practice guidelines

Putting into a place a set of rules and regulations which stipulate the nature of managing unethical, illegal or morally challenging situations in the workplace, is a vital step for your organisation. When we don’t know what is expected of us, it’s easy for situations to unravel and ethics can become an emotional area to solve after the fact. Deciding on the policies which work for the team as well as unpacking the ethical challenges of your industry, the best practice guidelines for managing them, and how to regulate your organisation’s daily work, is a great way to collaborate on governance for which everyone has agreed to and is then responsible for upholding.


Training on ethics and company culture

Having the ability to make ethical decisions is not a given skill. Educating your employees will empower them to make informed decisions about their actions, and is essential to ensure that your staff are able to make ethical decisions. Providing regular training and seminars is one method, and can include the following:

  • Updates on the latest best practice guidelines
  • Updates on national and international industry rules and regulations
  • Instilling commitment for your corporate values
  • Providing guidance through challenging situations
  • Encouraging them to speak up about mistakes and uncomfortable ethical behaviours where the team can discuss and learn from their mistakes or the challenges of others.



One of the key behaviours of ethical leadership is consistency and fairness. If only certain policies are respected, individuals are dealt with in disparaging ways, or consequences for unethical behaviours are inconsistently punished – then your organisation is in trouble. People notice when they are not managed fairly, and inconsistency can quickly deteriorate the trust, collaborative spirit, and psychological safety of people at work. Being consistent in what is regulated and how it is fairly implemented is key to ensuring that your reputation and codes of conduct are upheld inside and outside of the workplace.



Do what you say, and admit when you don’t. Being an ethical leader means being a role model for best practice. This requires you to know your core values and to behave them. As an example, it is one thing to say that you want everyone to be punctual but you are late for meetings, or that you respect your employees’ health but then send them tasks when they are on sick leave, or that you value work-life balance but you yourself always work overtime. Integrity is a highly necessary part of ethical leadership because, without it, your team will inevitably see you as false and will lose trust and respect for you. In order to be an ethical organisation, you as the leader have to be willing to follow the same protocols of behaviour that you set out for your staff.


Check your motivations

While there are many definitions of leadership, there is one concept that underpins them all. The idea of being responsible for something greater than oneself, and while there have been many tyrannical leaders in history, the true meaning of a leader is one who is not motivated by self-advancement but rather by the progress of the team and company as a whole. If you want to be an ethical leader you need to become aware of your motivations and be vigilant with yourself. Make sure that you know who you are and how your behaviours impact those around you. If you are making decisions which drive your own success or financial gain, you will not only lose the commitment of your staff, but you are setting an example that individual gain is more valuable than collective success.


In conclusion

As you can see, ethical leadership is as much about your own behaviour and intentions as it is about setting up clear and consistent procedures to guide ethical decision making. Being an ethical leader is not a simple task and requires regular self-awareness, education, and policymaking in collaboration with your team.

We wish you the best of luck in implementing our suggestions, and please do contact us on if you have questions or need assistance.

10 Characteristics of Ethical Leaders

10 Characteristics of Ethical Leaders

Over the last few years, the number of private sector and government scandals have increased drastically. Every day, unethical and disgraceful behaviour and decisions are exposed, which obviously raises the question of where were the leaders at the time? Did they really not know what was going on within their company, did they turn a blind eye, or did they actively participate? When there is unethical leadership in an organisation, the implications are severe and often affect many employees and their families. Society is shocked, even enraged, by this behaviour, and call for justice to be served. However, the damage has been done, and people tend to lose trust in corporate governance and leadership. Unethical leadership seeps through society and leaves a vile taste in our mouths.

Being Ethical

It is only in recent years that leaders have embraced an ethical consciousness in the management of an organisation, and have made ethical leadership a strategic executive topic. The word “ethics” originated from the Greek word “ethos” which means advocating moral behaviour and requirement. Ethics can, therefore, be inferred to mean to behave in an acceptable manner that is good and does no harm, opposed to doing “bad”. Being ethical is honouring your values and moral principles which enables you to behave legally and morally correctly, thus protecting the larger community. Ethical dilemmas arise if there is uncertainty and conflict between different people’s interests, values, and beliefs. In an organisation, ethical behaviour is commonly referred to as a “Code of Conduct” or “Best Practice” where both require the organisation’s culture to drive ethical behaviour. Ethical leadership is about living out these critical high-standard principles, which is done through an active process of enquiry. It is also about developing an enquiring mindset that continuously asks explorative questions. Taking it a step further, it is extending this concept to the entire organisation which gives each and every person the permission to enquire and ask questions.

A leader’s character plays a role in their ethical performance. Jones (1995) said that ethical behaviour is a personal disposition, and a character that you are born with, rather than one that has been acquired through training and learning. An ethical leader has a conscious mind, and is self-controlled and aware of the dire consequences of unethical behaviour. It is not a risk they’re willing to take as it would conflict with their inner values and beliefs. Zander (1992) identified ten characteristics of an ethical leader:

The Ethical Leader

  1. being humble
  2. being concerned for the greater good
  3. being honest and straightforward
  4. honouring commitments
  5. striving to be fair
  6. taking responsibility for their actions and behaviour
  7. showing respect for each individual
  8. encouraging others to develop
  9. serving others, and
  10. showing courage to stand up for what is wrong.


In a business environment, ethical leadership can be summarised as: (1) being honest, (2) being trustworthy, and (3) having integrity. Trust is related to demonstrating consistent, reliable, and predictable behaviour. Ethical leaders treat people with respect, dignity, fairness, are transparent in their communication, and have no double standards. Gallup, in their 2004 survey which comprised of 50 000 employees spread over 27 countries, demonstrated that respect is the primary characteristic in the workplace that people value the most. It is therefore no surprise to see it as a main characteristic in ethical leadership behaviour. Integrity is a very sought after characteristic in the business environment, and it means being honest with oneself and others, learning from mistakes, and engaging in a constant process of self-development and improvement. Demonstrating this behaviour ensures that the leader is a role model, and this should encourage others to behave in the same manner. The concept of “follow-the-leader” applies.

For leaders to roll out ethics within an organisation, they use their internally designed values. On the one hand, an organisation’s values are aimed at achieving the strategic goals, but on the other hand they are the collective moral compass of behaviours in an organisation. Researchers Blanchard & Peale (1996) identified five organisational values that support driving ethical behaviour throughout an entire organisation:

Organisational Ethics

  1. Pride – having high esteem and respect for what the organisation stands for, the values, the people, and the mannerism in which the organisation is operating.
  2. Patience – being humble and accepting that it takes time to implement strategies that support the organisation to reach its strategic goals.
  3. Prudence – exercising sound judgement and not making risky decisions in good as well as in challenging times in the organisation.
  4. Persistence-the continuous quest to take all the necessary steps and actions to achieve a goal. Overcoming overwhelm, and moving forward with an ethical obligation to attain a goal.
  5. Perspective – the capacity and ability to determine what is truly important in any given situation.


The final question arises as to why organisations engage in unethical behaviour knowing the risk of being caught out at some stage. The answer cannot possibly be to remain competitive and have a cutting edge advantage, even if it will be for a short amount of time. I believe that market success and ethical leadership go hand in hand, and you cannot have the one without the other. Unethical behaviour leaks to the outside environment, and it won’t be long before society begins to hear about it and stops engaging with the organisation. It pays to be ethical and to uphold ethical leadership and values.


Four Ways to Become a Meaningful Leader

Four Ways to Become a Meaningful Leader


Often when we find ourselves in a position of leadership, a great amount of effort needs to be made to put on a good front. This is with good reason because we can’t expect our team to follow us if we aren’t confident about the steps ahead and how we will achieve our outcomes. While having a confident and strong sense of direction as a leader is essential to building trust, collective action and results, this representation of leadership as a guiding light without fear is detrimental to the humans behind the frontline.

Leadership is a space where failures are unacceptable and where predictions about the future need to be correct (or at least account for possible obstacles and setbacks). This expectation of our leaders can place an incredible amount of pressure on the people we look up to, to lead the way.

In the changing world of work as it is today, there is space for us to become a different type of leader. One who is a mentor on one hand, and a student on the other. One who is motivated and engages others in most situations, and one who is in need of support and engagement from others in difficult moments.

In order for leaders and their organisations to thrive in today’s world, there needs to be a synergy between leadership and self-leadership, and between clear implementation and learning through failure.

This shift towards meaningful leadership for the future requires leaders to become conscious, curious, and aware of their limitations and how they can engage a learning mindset.

4Seeds focuses on supporting the leaders of tomorrow. We believe that everyone has the potential for great leadership with the right mindset, skills and self-awareness. It is our mission to empower leaders to become equipped for their roles and grow into their unique leadership style for the happiness of their team and the overall performance of the business as a whole.

Because it is our burning desire to co-create meaningful, happy and engaged workplaces across South Africa, we have designed an intensive two-day workshop called The Meaningful Leadership Development Programme. This programme is intended to build self-awareness, practical skills, and leadership theory which support resilient, authentic and conscious leadership behaviours.

In the article below, we will unpack some of the core concepts behind our Meaningful Leadership theory and how these elements impact the path of a leader – from one who needs to control and “be perfect”, to one who is able to be humble, honest and more resilient for themselves as well as the teams and the organisations they lead.


How to become a Meaningful Leader


  1. Become self-aware

There is a misconception that leadership requires us to know others better than we know ourselves. This results in many leaders focusing on their external experiences, and relationships with others more than on their internal world. However, the true essence of a great leader is one who knows themselves so well that they become a role model to others just by virtue of truly being themselves.

How you choose to learn more about yourself is up to you; however knowing your strengths, your weaknesses, your limitations, your triggers, and your assumptions about the world is a good starting point.

During the two-day Meaningful Leadership Development Programme, we take you through a self-mastery process where you are able to gain awareness in a supportive and collaborative learning environment while gaining the skills and knowledge needed to continue your leadership journey with self-awareness.

“The point is not to become a leader, the point is to become more yourself.” – Warren Bennis


  1. Become more mindful

Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”

It’s a term that has gained much traction in the media over the past decade, with extensive research showing the benefits of how mindfulness can transform your daily life and bring you more happiness.

In leadership, this concept of mindfulness has another dimension, in how we interact with the world around us and how we notice its effect on ourselves. Mindfulness assists us to manage stress, build resilience, and helps us to become more emotionally intelligent.

The Meaningful Leadership Development Programme includes elements of mindfulness as a fundamental resource for those who want to have a more positive and resilient outlook. During the workshop, we provide different practical methods which will give you space to start acknowledging how your actions, emotions and thoughts influence those around you, and how you can become more conscious in your daily actions to have a more positive impact on the world.


  1. Become curious

On the leadership journey there are always plenty unknown, potentially diabolical consequences for everything we do. Because of this inevitability, many leaders become driven to control, predict, project, plan, and play it safe. While this risk adversity is a helpful quality in order to guide an organisation to success, being able to stay curious is the true sign of a great leader. It shows the difference between a manager and a leader.

Curiosity takes vulnerability, which is why many people believe that asking questions shows weakness and incompetence. However, the opposite is in fact true. If we don’t ask questions, how will we know what we don’t know? How will we find new solutions, and how will we learn from our mistakes so we can progress?

Curiosity is the sign of a Meaningful Leader because without it, arrogance, fear and control become necessary to retain a position of authority. It takes a great leader to admit mistakes, be humble when they don’t know, and be open to new lines of enquiry.

Becoming a curious leader with a growth mindset sets the tone for developing a learning organisation. An organisation which has the ability to ask questions, be creative, experiment (with conditions), and explore the learnings from every failure to become stronger. Curiosity is the quality which leaders need to engage with to guide their organisations into the uncertain future ahead. It’s the difference between an organisation with or without a future.

“Replace your fear of the unknown with curiosity.”

  1. Become resilient

Resilience is something that every leader needs in bucket loads. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity, to learn and grow from difficulties, and to make lemonade when life throws you lemons.

Luckily for us all, resilience is a learnt skill. While some of us have a higher level of resilience because of our lives up to this point, we all have the capacity to grow and develop our resilience muscles.

A resilient leader is one who is able to manage struggles with grace, adapt to challenges quickly, and who has the capacity to thrive from difficulty rather than just survive. In the times we live in, resilience is becoming a vital and essential skill for the Meaningful Leader.

In our two-day Meaningful Leadership Development Programme, we explore the foundational theories and practices of resilience and how you can begin building your resources to manage stress and failure with greater ease and purpose.

“Life doesn’t become any easier or more forgiving, we just become stronger and more resilient.”


In conclusion

Being a leader in today’s world is a challenge, to say the least. At 4Seeds we believe you have what it takes to create a powerful and memorable impact on your team, organisation and society as a whole.

If you are interested in becoming more self-aware, mindful, curious, and resilient so that you can take your leadership to the next level, then send us an email to to find out more about how our two-day Meaningful Leadership Development Programme can help you.

We wish you luck on your journey to becoming a more Meaningful Leader.