Angela Oosthuizen, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA) has decided to participate in the 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™ on 18 June. Oosthuizen says her decision is based on her view that courageous leaders have to act despite their discomfort.
“The IoDSA has long recognised that our business community and our country needs leaders who are courageous—“courageous leadership” was the theme of our annual conference in 2013, after all,” she explains. “We all fear not having a place to rest our heads so, like many other CEOs, I decided that in order to face that fear. In so doing, of course, I hope to contribute towards raising awareness of the challenges facing thousands of my fellow South Africans. At a personal level, facing what others have no choice but to face, I hope to gain some of the insight I need to lead with courage.”
Oosthuizen says that leaders are only able to be courageous if they are supported by courageous teams. When she stakes her claim to a few paving stones outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on what is expected to be one of the coldest nights of the year, her resolve will be strengthened not only by her fellow CEOs in the same position but also by her courageous team.
“We took the decision as a team that I should participate in the 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™, and that team will spend the night in our offices in solidarity with me and the homeless that night,” she says. “They are courageous individuals, and thus leaders in their own right.”
The choice of the Stock Exchange is symbolic. It lies squarely in the richest square mile in Africa, and so the initiative also seeks to draw attention to the yawning—and growing—gap between those with an excess of goods and the luxury of choice, and those who lack both.
The 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™ is so successful, she believes, because it offers leaders a chance to demonstrate their commitment to authenticity. In the words of Bernard Fehon, who developed the concept in Australia a decade ago, it seems wrong to hold feasts in order to raise money for the underprivileged.
The 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™ also offers an opportunity for CEOs to take stock of their roles in the broader context of society. The social context of her leadership role resonates particularly for Oosthuizen given that the IoDSA is the custodian of the King Codes of Corporate Governance. The King Codes are founded on the belief that business does not exist in isolation, solely to make profit, but exists within the context of society and, to an extent, is responsible to that society as well its immediate shareholders.
Leaders need courage, says Oosthuizen, to ask difficult questions, and raise alternate or unpopular viewpoints. They need courage to stand firmly by their own values or hold others to their organisational value; to ask for help; and, critically, to drive change.
“In business, given the pressure for short-term profit, it takes courage to argue that the deep ecological and social crises facing us must be considered if the business is to remain profitable over the long term,” Oosthuizen adds.
This year’s 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™ supports Girls & Boys Town, a government recognised non-profit organisation. Girls & Boys Town helps more than 20 000 orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children by providing residential care and assisting pupils by partnering with schools.
To participate in the 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™, Oosthuizen must raise R100 000 for Girls & Boys Town. Please help her to meet that target by pledging at http://www.theceosleepoutza.co.za/donate-ceo.php?id=79fd796a7fef5b23c9d04bbd8a557f4a.
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