As much humanist as strategist, the self-proclaimed intrapeneur extols the virtues of sentient, but authentic leadership.
In January 2016, Standard Bank former economist, Chris Hart, posted a controversial comment on Twitter that ignited a racial tinderbox. The post trended for days, attracting the sort of attention the bank neither wanted or needed. It was accused of being a flag-bearer for institutionalised racism and the furore soon spiralled beyond the point of damage control through a well-crafted media statement.
“There was an interesting three-way tussle between the interests of the public, the institution and the individuals involved. Ultimately, as the CEO, I had to be guided by how the institution’s objectives and strategy were being impacted by the unfolding events,” recalls Tshabalala. “As bankers, we’re in the business of managing risk and if people feel that we’re inappropriately positioned, then it could have financial implications.”
Consideration also had to be given to SA’s constitutionally enshrined right to freedom of expression. “That right, however, is limited by other competing rights and interests,” he says. While Standard Bank – like most organisations – has a social media policy, it can’t mitigate against all possible scenarios. Then there’s the common, but fallacious argument that people tweet or post in their private capacities and therefore aren’t speaking on behalf of their organisations. “When you’re a figure representing an institution, whether you like it or not, people don’t make that distinction.