Some enlightening principles of empowerment by the CEO of the Gautrain (Johannesburg fast train) Project, Mr Jack Van Der Merwe

Interviewer: ‘Your leadership can forever change the face of transport in South Africa. Isn’t that intimidating?’

Jack: ‘No. I work with an incredible team. In the past, management was all about command and control. That’s changed; you now have a massive knowledge base on tap. The people I work with know more than me on a whole range of subjects, so all I have to do is bring them together and give them room to do what they know best and manage that. I’m 99% dependent on the team.’

It is common knowledge in leadership that great leaders surround themselves with talented people. Furthermore, it is the test of a leader to bring out the talents of those under his or her care. You often here great leaders saying, ‘Well, I didn’t do much. I just have a great team.’

A genuine leader fosters the abilities of his or her team. Such a leader is happy to see others getting credit where credit is due ie. happy to see others being recognized for their abilitites and contributions.

A true leader does not feel threatened by another’s progress or prowess. Rather, he or she is happy to see someone making progress; and is happier, still, when such a person does better than he or she can do.

It also the duty of a leader to inspire those under his or her leadership. If leaders cannot inspire, they should humbly hand over leadership to someone who can.