Five tips to success: Standard Bank’s Africa head gives advice on leading a team

Zweli Manyathi has been appointed Standard Bank CE of personal and business banking for Africa (excluding South Africa). Having started his career as a messenger for South African bank Absa (then known as Trustbank) at the age of 20, Manyathi has worked his way up to hold a number of leadership positions in the banking industry.

Zweli Manyathi, chief executive of personal and business banking for Africa at Standard Bank

Zweli Manyathi, CE of personal and business banking for Africa at Standard Bank

Manyathi joined Standard Bank in 2009 as head of business banking in South Africa where he was influential in furthering the bank’s expansion of the division both in South Africa and on the continent.

Now, at age 52, Manyathi has gained valuable leadership experience and insight. He shares his advice on being a successful manager and creating a work environment that “breeds success”.

1. Articulate your business vision

“My view is that successful leaders are those who can articulate a vision and a journey that a business has got to traverse, and they have got to be very good at it,” he emphasised. “It is not just about writing it down, it is about making sure that people understand and are inspired by the vision that is articulated.”

2. Acknowledge that you can’t do it alone

Manyathi said successful managers and leaders have to have particular capabilities that will enable them to deliver to the vision. “Of these capabilities that will enable you to deliver to the dream, one of these requirements is that you have got to be humble enough to accept that you actually are never going to know everything that ought to be done to get to [a place] to achieve the dream.”

He added that you need to employ others who have the capabilities and skills that you lack, in order to help you achieve the vision of your company. “You must be very comfortable with having people surrounding you that know better than you in many, many areas,” explained Manyathi. “You have got to be very comfortable with that.”

3. Empower your people and listen to their ideas

“The third thing is that you have got to step back and empower people to do what ought to be done and make yourself available to be the sounding board and to listen to all kinds of ideas whilst at the same time clearing the way for people to do what they ought to do,” continued Manyathi.

4. Give feedback

He added that successful business leaders always give feedback and let their staff know how they are doing in their work.

“Because, in some instances, when people do not have a sense of how well they are doing against the objectives, it’s like a car without its speedometer,” Manyathi explained. “We don’t know how well we are doing, so we therefore need feedback all the time.”

5. Reward those who achieve goals

“One last thing is: make sure that people are rewarded for achieving that which we have articulated as objectives to try achieve,” concluded Manyathi.

“If we can do all of these things consistently, my experience is that it creates an environment that breeds success.”