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7 Questions on Leadership with Jacques Greeff

Name: Jacques Greeff

Title: Chief Excellence Officer

Organisation: Unitrans Group

I am a driven and passionate Chief Excellence Officer with a proven track record of success in the supply chain and technology industry.

My passion for the supply chain industry has led me to develop a comprehensive understanding of the internal frameworks and processes that drive organizational success. With my analytical problem-solving capabilities and keen sense of reviewing operations, I am able to identify areas for improvement and implement solutions that increase efficiencies and profitability.

My super power is creating high-performance work teams, fostering an environment of collaboration and open communication. I believe in leading by example and embodying the company's core values. My focus on innovation and technology-driven solutions has led me to develop IOX (Innovative Operational Excellence), a core value proposition that enhances the company's service delivery capabilities and differentiates us in the market.

I am an international speaker, sharing my knowledge and experience with others in the industry. I have spoken at various conferences and seminars sharing my insights on how to drive excellence and innovation in the supply chain industry. My purpose-driven leadership style and relentless pursuit of excellence make me a valuable asset to any organization.

As a relentless pursuer of excellence, I am always pushing the boundaries of what is possible. I strive to inspire my team to think outside the box and to challenge the status quo. My goal is to make work fun, by creating an environment that is open, transparent, and encourages creativity and experimentation.

In my current role, I take ownership of organizational innovation which forms an integral part of how operational excellence strives to add value to the Unitrans business. I am responsible for identifying new and exhilarating technologies that shape our way of doing business, and to think innovatively to create solutions that solve supply chain challenges and diversify our service offering to not only the business but also to our customers.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Jacques's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Being a leader comes with numerous challenges that require constant attention and effort to overcome. One of the most challenging aspects is the responsibility of making difficult decisions. Leaders are often faced with complex situations where they have to weigh multiple factors, consider various perspectives, and take calculated risks. These decisions can have far-reaching consequences and impact the lives of those they lead. Another challenging aspect is managing and inspiring a diverse group of individuals. People have different personalities, motivations, and work styles, and it is the leader's role to create a cohesive and productive team. This requires effective communication, conflict resolution skills, and the ability to motivate and empower others. Additionally, leaders must navigate through uncertainty and adapt to rapidly changing environments. They need to stay agile, innovative, and forward-thinking to lead their teams through challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Finally, leaders must also handle the pressure and expectations that come with the role. They are often under scrutiny, and their actions and decisions are closely observed. It requires resilience, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness to manage the stress and maintain a positive and confident demeanor. Overall, being a leader demands a unique set of skills, perseverance, and continuous personal and professional growth.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

The question of whether leaders are born or made has long been debated. While some individuals may possess certain innate qualities that lend themselves to leadership, such as charisma or natural assertiveness, becoming a leader is predominantly a process of growth and development. Leadership is a skill that can be honed and refined over time through experience, learning, and self-improvement. It requires a combination of knowledge, emotional intelligence, communication skills, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. Effective leaders continuously strive to enhance their capabilities by seeking feedback, embracing challenges, and learning from both successes and failures. They actively engage in self-reflection and personal growth, cultivating qualities like resilience, adaptability, and empathy. Ultimately, while some individuals may have a head start in terms of certain qualities, anyone can become a leader through dedication, learning, and the willingness to invest in their own growth and development.

My leadership journey started at a young age, being nominated class captain on my first day of school. As inconsequential as that might seem, it helped me from a very young age to appreciate responsibility. Throughout my upbringing my parents motivated and instilled discipline, and I was fortunate to explore and develop my leadership skills, mainly on the sportsfield. I love sports, especially Athletics, Rugby, Boxing and Karate and being nominated as various sports teams captain, i really grew in my love a d respect for the value of leadership.

In my current role I directly lead 7 senior Heads of Departments, sit on our organisational strategic leadership team and represent on the board of our group. Each of these roles require a different dynamic and leadership approach. With one golden thread similarity, I love being of service to the people I work with, and deeply care for my team.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up at 4am everyday.

My first hour of my day, my golden hour, realy sets me up for the success through the day.

I start by making my bed, hospital corner folds (My dad was a military man and making a bed with the sheets wrapped tight enough for you to be able to flip a coin on it was a lesson I was taught at a young age).

I follow this with a cup of coffee, light two candles in my living room to ask for Gods blessing and protection in my day, and then a 30 minute seated meditation, where I focus on appreciative thankfulness.

I work out in the gym from 05:30 to 07:00am, followed by a cold shower, healthy breakfast and drive to work.

My work day commences at 08:30am, with a 30 minute check in with my Heads of Departments, to align main priortities for the day, and to see if there is anything I can assist them with in order to empower them during that day. My work day never finishes at the same time, but to the best of my ability I try to allocate at least two hours of my day to self development studies (usually from 20:00om to 22:00pm).

My day finishes with a 10 minute reflection on the days activities, where I try to hightlight at least three things I was really grateful for.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I am currently enrolled in the Dr Joe Despenza Unlimited self development course, focusing on the value of understanding human behavior and the power of the mind. During one of my classes this week I was reminded of the leadership and self development story of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela's leadership was marked by his unwavering commitment to justice, equality, and reconciliation. Despite enduring 27 years of imprisonment for his fight against apartheid, Mandela emerged as a beacon of hope and a symbol of resilience. His leadership was characterized by his ability to transcend personal grievances and embrace forgiveness, leading the way towards a peaceful transition in South Africa. Mandela's inclusive and visionary approach brought people from diverse backgrounds together, fostering unity and understanding. His humility, integrity, and unwavering belief in equality inspired millions around the world. Mandela's leadership teaches us the power of perseverance, compassion, and the importance of leading by example. It serves as a reminder that true leaders are not afraid to take a stand for what is right, even in the face of immense adversity. Mandela's legacy demonstrates that leadership can be a force for positive change, empowering individuals to make a difference and create a more just and equitable world.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Monk That Sold His Ferrari - Robin Sharma

I am an avid reader, and try to read at least two books a month. From all the incredible litrature available on leadership, personal mastery, human development and spiritual awakening, this book still firmly holds the top spot for me.

"The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" by Robin Sharma is indeed a popular self-help and personal development book that has inspired many readers to make positive changes in their lives. I can certainly provide insights into how this book can impact leadership development. Here are a few key points:

1. Purpose and Meaning: One of the central themes of the book is finding purpose and meaning in life. As a leader, understanding your purpose and aligning it with your actions can inspire and motivate others. It encourages leaders to reflect on their values and vision, helping them lead with clarity and a sense of direction.

2. Self-Discovery and Personal Mastery: The book emphasizes the importance of self-discovery, self-improvement, and personal mastery. As a leader, investing in your personal growth and continuously developing yourself allows you to become a better version of yourself. This book can inspire leaders to cultivate habits of lifelong learning, self-reflection, and self-discipline.

3. Mindset and Mindfulness: "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" highlights the significance of having a positive mindset and practicing mindfulness. Leaders who adopt a growth mindset and cultivate a positive attitude can effectively navigate challenges and inspire their teams to do the same. Mindfulness helps leaders focus on the present moment, make better decisions, and improve their emotional intelligence.

4. Work-Life Balance and Well-being: Another important theme in the book is the significance of achieving work-life balance and taking care of one's well-being. Leaders who prioritize their well-being and create a healthy work environment can foster a positive culture and enhance employee engagement. This book can remind leaders about the importance of maintaining harmony in various aspects of life.

5. Leadership by Example: "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" emphasizes leading by example. As a leader, your actions speak louder than words, and by embodying the qualities you expect from others, you can inspire and influence your team positively. This book can encourage leaders to be authentic, ethical, and compassionate in their leadership approach.

It's important to note that while "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" can provide valuable insights and inspiration, leadership development is a continuous journey. It's beneficial to explore a wide range of resources, engage in practical experiences, and seek guidance from mentors and coaches to enhance your leadership skills.

I have lost count how many times I have read this book

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Embrace a Growth Mindset.

A growth mindset is the belief that your abilities, intelligence, and skills can be developed and improved through dedication, effort, and continuous learning. By adopting a growth mindset, you open yourself up to new possibilities and overcome challenges with resilience. Here's why it's important:

1. Embracing Learning: A growth mindset encourages you to seek out new knowledge, skills, and experiences. Be open to feedback, actively seek opportunities for growth, and view failures or setbacks as learning opportunities rather than personal shortcomings. Continuously expanding your knowledge and skills will help you adapt to changing circumstances and stay ahead in your leadership journey.

2. Emphasizing Effort and Persistence: With a growth mindset, you understand that achieving success requires effort and persistence. Embrace challenges, be willing to step out of your comfort zone, and persevere through obstacles. Understand that setbacks and failures are part of the learning process and can eventually lead to growth and improvement.

3. Cultivating Curiosity: Maintain a curious mindset and a thirst for knowledge. Ask questions, explore different perspectives, and seek diverse opinions. Curiosity helps you gain insights, discover innovative solutions, and foster a culture of continuous improvement within your team.

4. Encouraging Development in Others: A growth mindset extends beyond personal development. As a leader, you should foster a growth mindset culture within your team. Encourage your team members to embrace challenges, provide them with opportunities for growth and development, and support their learning journey. By empowering and investing in others, you create a dynamic and high-performing team.

Remember, leadership is a lifelong learning process, and a growth mindset will help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of leadership. By embracing the belief that you can continually learn, grow, and adapt, you'll be well-equipped to overcome challenges and lead with confidence and effectiveness.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

In my previous role as Executive of Operational Excellence for Unitrans Supply Chain Solutions, based in Cape Town South Africa, I came up with a concept called ShotGun Friday's. The concept was simple, I would select a person from the office (random selection), and we would swop roles for an hour. They would get to sit in my office, at my desk, have full access to my personal assitant, and we would even get our office lady to make them a nice cup of coffee, while they sit at my desk. In turn I would get to occupy their seat and have an hour to engage directly with their closest colleagues, understanding their challanges and getting a better sense of key focus areas in the business that may require senior / execuitve support. After the hour was done, I would return to my office and have a frank, robust discussion about the excersize. Asking them to be open and honest about what they would like to see us (the leadership) do better.

One Friday, I selected a young man from our Transport Control Tower. At the time he was a shift supervisor. I had noticed him around the office before, he always had a happy demeanor, very polite and approachable. I had also received feedback along the reporting structures, that he was doing a great job and proving himself to be a possible future leader in his respective focus area.

During the post Shotgun hour debrief, something very interesting happened though. The young man, welcomed me back into my own office, and then occupied my seat behind the desk. He asked me to get comfortable on the couch in the corner, the one I would usually ask visitors to have a seat on. He first checked again to be sure that his feedback was off the record, and asked that I please take his feedback in a positive light, to which I obvioulsy agreed (whilst being very suprised and entertained by his confidence and authenticity)

The young man delivered a single sentence that litrally changed my way of thinking about my role in the company, when he said, "Jacques, do you realise that when you walk into the office and the morning and greet everyone with a smile, you immediately set the tone for everyones day? At the same time, when you walk into the office stressed, under pressure and seemingly unapproachable, with a frown on your face, you also set the tone for the whole day"... I was left speechless. A moment of beautiful vulnararbility that improved me as a leader, forever.

Since then I make a conscious effort to have a big smile on my face before I walk in to greet everyone, I focus on everyhting I am appreciative of, and dont let any pressure I might be under, to show in my behavior. Those first 5 minutes in the office are my most important ones, because it directly impacts my people, they way they feel and their perspctive of me as the leader that aspires to serve them to the best of my ability.

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