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7 Questions on Leadership with Redewaan Isaacs

Name: Redewaan Isaacs

Title: Group CEO

Organisation: CGES (PTY) LTD

Diverse years experience in Executive Leadership positions ranging in operations management, team and business growth strategies, property, asset management, facility, soft services and tertiary education.

Believe in creating leadership teams that adds value to themselves and all who we serve. Strong believer of an inclusive management team as diversity allows us to have meaningful debate for advancement.

I know leaders should ask more questions before providing their opinions.

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

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


Jonno White

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

The realization that leadership entails constant learning and unlearning. The ability of the leader to be open to this process is extremely critical for advancement.

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

I believe my leadership skills was homed in due to my mother’s interest in business. My first business was started selling small bags of potatoes at the traffic lights and creating a local route selling vegetables and fruit. The risk with a business of this nature was if you do not sell it by the expiry date you will lose your investment, hence self-leadership to ensure you get it done was critical to success.

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

I schedule specific time for emails in the morning to do responses and uninterrupted as the outcomes I believe is that I can apply my mind to them, also I prefer to respond very succinctly. Then scheduled meetings, task and calls. A close out of the day is calls to specific team members and emails.

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

“Those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it again” I was reminded recently about this saying due to negative actions by senior staff and though people’s English might be eloquent, track their real actions of the past as it will shed true light on their character and only then make an informed decision.

Leaders at times wish to believe that we can completely remake people through training my view is to go back to the above saying and understand the calculated risk you wish to take.

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?

A definite keeper for me has been “Built to Sell “by author John Warrillow, the simplicity and ease of reading underscores the tremendous learning and unlearning for both the novice entrepreneur and accomplished businessperson. The main learnings for me were the realization that the business should not be built around one person, “Yes” that includes the founder or CEO.

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

My advice would be do not be afraid to ask questions, be clear on your vision and understand that there is no perfect leader as we are human. Based on being human it also means we have been provided the wonderful ability by our maker to mess up, fail, learn, unlearn, and start again. With that said it means take the great qualities and be aware of the not-so-great qualities from the mentors that you allow into your development space.

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

I was sitting with my new finance team, and we reworked the business units stretch budgets and we had a specific methodology of how we came to the final numbers of the stretch budgets. I was actively involved in the process. On the day we presented the new higher budgets to the businesses we noticed we errored on one business unit.

I asked my new finance team to motivate the error messaging to the managing director and they came up with wonderful explanations which was partly sellable – but a lei. I then asked but why don’t you just say we made an error, and their view was that they could not possibly say the executive messed up. I corrected them and we communicated the truth.

The lesson there was the leaders they learned from did not take accountability and they did not unlearn that behaviour. Leaders have to accept that we are human, and we error and it is even more important for you as a leader to own and accept those errors as then your team will have the uncomfortable conversation with you promptly and you can make better informed business decisions.

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