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Braving Leadership
A reflection on the power of leadership

The concept of leadership has often left me with an overwhelming sense of accountability. Perhaps, Peter Drucker’s words have all-too-well ingrained this responsibility at a tender age when I read his definition of leadership. He says that leadership is the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. This is a hallowed interpretation of leadership, one that comes with such immense responsibility and thus should not be taken lightly nor be confused with the concept of management.

As a teacher, a digital learning specialist, and a creative, I have viewed leadership from an empathic and creative perspective. I have found the nuances between leadership and management vastly different, yet the terms are often used interchangeably. This raised many questions for me, especially marking the impact and role I have as a leader to my learners, my peers, my colleagues, my team, my family, my community, and my friends. This led me to delve deeper into leadership, more emphatically creative leadership, and how to use this learning to improve on my own leadership practices, relational currency as well as quality educational delivery within South Africa.

Creative Leadership

Creative Leadership can be deemed both philosophy and action. It derives from innovation and essentially promotes innovative thinking and purpose-driven results. Being in the field of eLearning, creative leadership need to be at the forefront of our actions and philosophy, constantly delving into the depths of innovative solutions and empowering the principles of digital transformation and learning. We often interpret being creative as the ability to do design or illustrative work or being crafty or creating things but being creative involves the use of the imagination and reaching into the recesses of the mind. Ultimately, it speaks to expansive thinking so if we are shifting and coming up with ideas or asking the questions that facilitate new principles, new action, new strategies, then allow me to proclaim aloud, we are Creative Thinkers. Creative leadership is about forging the space to inspire, embracing challenges, and seeking entrepreneurial and resourceful solutions. It is creating a space for adaptable and flexible thinking and action.  

Dee Hock, the founder of Visa, says that ‘if you want to lead, invest at least 40% of your time in leading yourself’. This quote holds true for only through self-awareness, self-regulation and self-reflection are we able to lead in a respectable and equitable manner. Our understanding of the self enhances our capacity to imagine, to unpack, to critically assess, to communicate, and to adapt to a shifting world with shifting environments and differing personalities.

However, all leaders face challenges. Allow me to sum this up in threefold i.e. too little time, people, power: 

  • Too Little Time: As a leader, we will always be presented with the too-little-time factor and since we have people whom we lead, they essentially form part of the results that must be met. How we facilitate the priorities to tasks are essential in how we as an individual manage the concept of the too-little-time syndrome. A way to manage this is to determine the highest to lowest priority, so we don’t influence our ‘people’ with constant urgency which could lead them to burnout.

  • People: People are all different by nature – it makes life so exciting that we are all so different yet so impactful for success. Naturally in the corporate world and as capitalism teaches, we can be replaced but as leaders, value to the individualistic needs and attention given to our people enhances their capacity to fulfill their role excellently. We must not forget though, as LEADERS, we are People TOO. So being communicative and open to vulnerability does not lead us to lose our POWER as a leader. Vulnerability creates room for creativity to flourish.

  • Power: Put simply, don’t let power go to your head. Do not over-emphasize or under-emphasize your importance. Integrate and communicate. Value and appreciate.

Leadership is a privilege and it is a privilege we are all born with as we all have the capacity to lead. Leadership is part of our daily lives characteristically. It is an awareness and behaviour we must hone for the betterment of others. This is our responsibility. 


Gafieza Ismail

Deputy Chief Education Specialist: eCulture

WCED eLearning