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Visionary Leadership

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

This morning I read, with great interest, an article on Leadership published by Said Business School. They found that for organisations to succeed, there must be a shift: away from “heroic”, individualistic leadership, or “ego”, towards a leadership that recognises internal and external ecosystems, or “eco”.

I am proud to have been associated with Collab2, a 75% black owned and managed company, focusing primarily on specialised collections for the major banks and lenders in South Africa. When they led an MBO in 2015, Collab2 was primarily focused on collections of administration orders on behalf of most major banks and retailers in South Africa. The business is fraught with complexity as a result of an outdated piece of legislation that was enacted in 1974 and has not been updated to keep abreast of the changing environment. As a result, the poor consumers, who are subject to these administration orders are taken advantage of by the administrators, who charge extortionate fees, and are largely unregulated. This is also a sunset industry as administration orders have been replaced by debt review, which was supposed to be the holy grail, but has proved to have its shortcomings as well.

As a result, Collab2 decided to enhance and customise a cloud based ERP and collections application, called debtcloud,, specifically to enable the management of complex collections processes, such as administration orders and debt review. Collab2 has since acquired a 50% in this application.

In addition, they created the following enhancements/modifications:

  1. integrated a cloud based PABX solution, called Buzzbox, into Debtcloud,

  2. developed a comprehensive and transparent analytics and reporting tool, that enables them to determine and manage the effectiveness and efficiency of call center staff, when working remotely

  3. developed a transparent profit calculator for each team member that enables them to see their contribution to the organisation

  4. acquired/rented laptops for all staff

The main purpose of these developments was to enable staff to work from home, provided there is connectivity and their home environment is conducive to this. Travelling to work takes some of the staff members 2 hours, each way, and is costly. Working from home has enabled the staff to enjoy massive cost and time savings, which provides with them the flexibility to decide on the most effective time to make calls that will improve the contribution to the company. This also enables them to spend more time with their families, watch their children play sport and have a better quality of life.

These developments have enabled Collab to acquire additional collections work from FNB and they have deliberately diversified into customer satisfaction surveys for Samsung, so they are not totally reliant only on collections work for the banks and lenders.

This foresight and vision has enabled Collab to continue to operate during the lockdown, as the call center staff are able to operate from home and the analytical and reporting systems enable remote management. It was, and remains the intention, for the divisions to go into the office for at least a day a week, on a rotational basis,to ensure that the team dynamic continues.

Alistair Arendse and Waldo Kara, the leaders of Collab, have demonstrated the kind of leadership referred to in the Said article. Developing and enhancing the solution for the right purpose, which is to improve the lives of its employees, has enabled Collab to continue to operate during this period and provided it with a competitive edge. This is the kind of visionary leadership that, as demonstrated by Ricardo Semler, author of the Seven Day Weekend, and Yvon Choinard, founder of Patagonia and author of Let my People go Surfing, has lead to a sustainable business,as articulated in Firms of Endearment

We sincerely trust that other large businesses, such as Samsung, will have the courage to support SMME's, particularly black owned and managed SMME's, such as Collab2, that have demonstrated social and ethical leadership.

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