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Busara ArticlesThe following articles have been published by Busara Leadership Partners. 
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Weaving a Powerful Web

essays-magazine-cover-apr-2015Appeared in Essays, April 2015

Founder and CEO of Busara Leadership Partners, Dudu Msomi is a guidingvoice on transformation, strategy and governance in South Africa. Holding several directorships on the Financial Services Board, National Housing Finance Corporation and Agricultural Research Council, she spoke to Caryn Thandi Petersen about her work of empowering women and shaping the leaders of tomorrow.


Living Madiba

Madiba’s passing was inevitable, as is the case for all of us, when our time arrives. However his death has still left me speechless, but very contemplative. The magnanimous pouring of sadness, gratitude and love has caused me to introspect on what our founding father has thought us. I would like to share a few.


Innovation in Governance

Corporate governance refers to formal and informal structures and processes that exist for oversight roles and responsibilities in organisations and institutions. Until the 1990s, the term ‘corporate governance’ was rarely uttered outside of law school texts and the academic world. Since the 1990s, there have been reforms in governance, but these have not been generally referred to as innovations, which is what they are. The general public hardly questioned the rules and behaviour governing organisations and institutions. The corporate scandals of the 1990s changed this complacency and corporate governance issues have come under increased scrutiny. The central challenge in corporate governance is how to make leaders accountable to their stakeholders while still having the freedom, incentives and control over resources to achieve the goals. Good corporate governance practices encourage institutions to create value whilst ensuring accountability using control systems commensurate with the risks involved.


Corruption by Omission

When suspended national police commissioner admitted to the board of inquiry into the allegations of misconduct against him that he did, on occasions, sign off on official documents from his deputies without scrutinising them, a gasp escaped my throat. “Was he for real!!?” Cele’s unfortunate disclosure confirmed my long held suspicion that many of the improprieties and allegations of corruption that have gripped our headlines over the years, have been as a result of omission as much as commission. Omission in that the appointed leaders failed to do the basic, but critical things in performing their duties as required by their positions and not always because they were acting with malicious dishonesty and with the intent to mislead. At times, it is also as result of not wanting to rock the boat by “calling out” their comrades and colleagues on glaring misconduct and conflicts of interest even when their own consciences tell them otherwise.


Can't stand the heat, get out of the boardroom!

The economic crisis and the prolonged global downturn and uncertainty have placed immense stress on organisations which have added greater demands and pressures on boards. There has been a demand for increased regulation and legislation, especially with regard to governance, transparency, sustainability and accountability. Personal values and ethical aspirations of boards are implicit in good corporate governance. When we assess the financial crisis and the corporate scandals that have rocked our world in the past few decades, in retrospect, it appears that board members were fiscally irresponsible and negligent in their fiduciary duties. Ethics without the courage to stand up for and to act in line with one’s belief system, keeps corporate governance in the realm of theory and ideals rather than practice. The lack of potent courage that is required for assuring organisational integrity could have been contributory to corporate failures and the economic crisis. It is likely that some board members did not have the courage to intervene timeously so as to not be seen as being distrustful of the motives and activities of the management, their practices and internal controls.


Ethics, Sex and Power

Our media is rife with reports of unethical conduct by both men and women. We also often read stories of unethical sexual behaviour between persons where there is a power differential – that of supervisor or manager and subordinate. This started me thinking: do men and women have differing responses to ethical transgressions? And if they do, would a woman’s response to a situation change when she is in a position of power? Women have been fighting inequality on all fronts for centuries. We want to be treated equitably and we want to occupy positions of power without obstacles being put in our path. Are we, however, willing to rationalise certain unethical behaviour to achieve the power? Are some of us in fact becoming transgressors as we rise to power?


Turn the other cheek

It is magnanimous to be the teacher than the student. Taking the enlightened path demands sainthood to any attack on your person. The high road is easy when you are not the recipient of criticism and ridicule. ‘Turning the other cheek’ might be the right and prudent action to choose, but it is certainly not the instinctive reaction to judgement on your behaviour, lifestyle or values for any human being, public figure or not. Let us just think of how we respond when we have performance evaluations with our ‘bosses’ and peers which are by mutual agreement and are supposed to be constructive and developmental. To self- righteously advice another fellow human being, regardless of our opinion of President Zuma or his values, even as a public figure, to grin and bear it, shows an element of inhumanness on our part. The Dalai Lama says, “A truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.”


Wrecked Culture

‘The fish rots from the head’ is a Chinese proverb commonly evoked to assign blame and responsibility of organisational failures to leadership, namely the board of directors or CEO. Leadership certainly does set the tone for the behaviour in organisations. It is important that positional leaders lead by example and model the values that enhance the organisation’s reputation and those which employees can emulate.


Our blog

Surviving crises as a business – From Corona viruses to Recessions to Riots

Surviving crises as a business   – From Corona viruses to Recessions to RiotsIn times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive. – Lee Lacocca
I offer you words recorded Friday, 16th of July 2021 from Durban, South Africa as I was fighting through the post looting and rioting trauma. Ideas on what small businesses, in particular, but any size business too, should do to survive and thrive through adversity and crises whether as a result of corona viruses or riots or recessions. Read More

Shame Cruelty – Be kind to every one, including yourself

Shame Cruelty – Be kind to every one, including yourselfI am always amazed at the capacity for us human beings to have for being Cruel. We always couch it in rational and logical messages. But that does not camouflage our Cruelty. To take a device. Type cruel words that others will laugh at. And you know others will be stung by. What is it in us as Human Beings that makes us so Cruel? Read More

Another one bites the dust

The Telephone ConversationThe reality is that change is not readily embraced by everyone, even leaders, whether in politics or business who are expected to lead the change. The common saying is that change is constant – the weather, technology, culture, or strategy. Boardrooms and business schools are speaking about a VUCA world – the increase in volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity which means that leaders must constantly seek new approaches and refresh their strategies more often than was done in the Industrial Age. Read More

African Women in Leadership

The Telephone ConversationMonday, 8th of March was International Women’s Day. This year’s theme was “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”. I anticipated that most discussions, as every year, would lament under-representation of #women in leadership. The business sector has continued not to fare well since the inception of democracy with the public sector (government and civic society organisations) doing better in gender equity and granting access to women into senior #leadership and management positions... Read More

The Telephone Conversation

The Telephone ConversationHumanity can use reflective times such as the Covid-19 pandemic to become better. Or miss the opportunity to reset. To dust we return. Our physical appearance is the test of our humanity. How we treat each other in the shells of race and gender is the lesson for our Souls. One of my most favourite poems! Read More

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Dudu Msomi

CEO: Busara Leadership Partners
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Wisdom of the Month

"Leadership is the ability to direct, shape and influence into the future a new and unknown reality." Dudu Msomi